FREE screening of “Unexpected Journeys—Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America” on November 2nd

1For the past year and a half, JANM’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center has captured more than 25 first-person accounts of individuals whose lives illuminate the astonishing diversity of the Japanese experience in America.

With the support of NITTO TIRES U.S.A. Inc. and its visionary President, Tomo Mizutani, the Watase Media Arts Center staff has been enabled to videotape extensive interviews with Nisei, Japanese-speaking Kibei, Hapa, and post-WWII “Shin Issei.” Their stories have revealed many new historical insights and several previously unexpressed personal perspectives on the World War II era and beyond.

3From the little known early Yamato colony of Japanese in Florida where Sumi (Fukushima) Hughes’ parents settled to the challenges faced by Hamako (Amano) Schneider, one of the first Japanese war brides to be admitted to the U.S. following World War II, the project has uncovered many aspects of history that have remained unfamiliar to the public.

Photographed in Hi-Definition video by the Media Arts Center’s videographers Akira Boch and Evan Kodani, each interview is transcribed, translated when necessary, and digitally archived for eventual use in documentaries, exhibitions, and ongoing JANM educational projects such as the Discover Nikkei website and the Museum’s YouTube channel, janmdotorg. The project also involved follow ups with interviewees and their families to gather, identify, and scan photo albums, documents, and other supplementary resource material.

2After viewing the completed two-to-three hour interviews and assessing the available supplementary photographs and other visuals, the Media Arts staff—with assistance from Japanese staff member Yoko Nishimura of the Discover Nikkei project—edited selected interviews into a 30-minute documentary, Unexpected Journeys, that interweaves short autobiographical profiles with narration, graphics, and music by accomplished composer and musician, Dave Iwataki. To make these stories accessible to as wide an audience as possible the video includes both English and Japanese narration and subtitling to reach both English and Japanese-speaking audiences.

On Saturday, November 2, several of the interviewees and their families will attend a special premiere public screening presented in JANM’s Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Democracy Forum and will be able to meet fellow project participants, staff, sponsors, and other special guests. Light refreshments to follow program.

Lloyd Inui

FILM SCREENING
Unexpected Journeys: Remarkable Stories of Japanese in America
Saturday, November 2, 2013 • 2PM
FREE & open to the public!

This program is sponsored by Nitto Tire and produced by the National Museum’s Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center.

 

Check out the updated Watase Media Arts Center pages online: janm.org/mediaarts

Catch a special screening of “The Untold Story” at JANM on October 26th!

The Untold Story

On Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:00PM, JANM will present a special screening of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i. Produced by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i, The Untold Story is the first full-length documentary to chronicle the internment experience of Japanese Americans in Hawai`i.

UNTOLD.STORYWithin 48 hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i authorities arrested several hundred local residents—targeting Buddhist priests, Japanese language-school officials, newspaper editors, and business and community leaders. In total, more than 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained, and interned at 13 different confinement sites located in Hawai`i. There was no evidence of espionage or sabotage, and no charges were ever filed against them. The Untold Story chronicles their story through oral histories, documents, interviews, and reenactments.

“While people have heard of places like Manzanar and Tule Lake, the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated on the mainland, few people are familiar with places like Honouliuli, Kalaheo Stockade, or that Japanese Americans were held at the Kilauea Military Camp during WWII,” said Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i.

“Our film, The Untold Story, helps to ensure that the experience of over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawai`i who were picked up and imprisoned simply because of their ancestry is not forgotten.”

Don’t miss this special film screening and the Q&A session with the filmmakers afterwards!

*****

Visit the Discover Nikkei website for an insightful behind-the-scenes article on The Untold Story written by the director, Ryan Kawamoto:

Stepping into the Past: Behind the Scenes of The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i >>

The film screening is free with Museum admission. For more information please visit: janm.org/events

JABA & JANM: A Great Collaboration

Sean with his JABA/JANM supervisors at the NCI Opening Luncheon
Sean with his JABA/JANM supervisors at the NCI Opening Luncheon

 

This summer we were lucky enough to host Sean Hamamoto, our second Nikkei Community Intern in collaboration with the Japanese American Bar Association (JABA)! We had a great time getting to know Sean, a rising sophomore Politics major at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Nikkei Community Internship is an eight-week program that places college students at various Japanese American organizations across California. Interns get a taste of working life at their placements for four days of the week, then spend the remaining day on leadership development and community training. For the internship, JANM shared an intern with JABA to work on joint Discover Nikkei projects.

As our Discover Nikkei intern, Sean contributed to every section of the site by adding albums, events, and articles. He even contributed a fantastic article to our (ongoing!) Nikkei+ competition (deadline for submissions: September 30, 2013). In “4-Sei What? That’s Mixed Up,” Sean talked about why he considers himself a Yonsei with an Issei mother and Sansei father. (If you really liked his entry, don’t forget to make a Discover Nikkei account and vote for it!)

With JABA, Sean worked on the Legacy Project: Legal Legends in the Nikkei Community, which seeks to record profiles of Japanese American legal leaders. He interviewed Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Janice Fukai and attorney/civil rights activist Rose Ochi about their life and work. In addition to these profiles, Sean got to put his Japanese skills to good use at JABA’s free legal clinic, where he registered clients.

You can read Sean’s reflection of his eight weeks with JANM and JABA here. Sean’s passions for law and Japanese culture were huge assets to both his work at JANM and JABA. We hope he’ll remain a frequent visitor to JANM!

Producing Japanese American History

We published a wonderful series of five articles by Dean Ryuta Adachi on our DiscoverNikkei.org site about various artifacts from JANM’s permanent collection. Dean is a PhD candidate in American History at Claremont Graduate University and is an active volunteer at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. I “met” him through the Discover Nikkei Twitter account several years ago and have kept in touch. When he found out that he would be down in Los Angeles last fall to be a lecturer of Asian American Studies at Harvey Mudd College, he offered to come in as a volunteer during his spare time.

Namyo Bessho
Gift of Indiana Bessho (92.81.2)

Dean worked with Programs, Discover Nikkei, and Collections staff to go through some of the little-known collections in our archives, and then share about them through Discover Nikkei. Here are links to the five articles in the “Producing Japanese American History: An exploration through the JANM archives” series. They include images of various artifacts from the collections.

Part 1 – History is Made: Namyo Bessho
Did you know that there was an Issei in the US Navy during the Spanish-American War?

Learn about how Namyo Bessho became a citizen in 1919 and then had it taken away >>

1948 article from Copenhagen, Denmark about John Nitta and chick sexing

Part 2 – History is Told: S. John Nitta

John Nitta played a significant role in the establishment of the chick sexing industry in the United States, but as Dean looked past the many awards in his collection, he found “plenty of unrelated hidden gems.”

Learn about his story >>

 

 

Estelle Ishigo
Gift of Mary Ruth Blackburn (2000.103.12)

Part 3 – History is Ignored: Estelle Ishigo
Estelle Ishigo was a Caucasian artist who went with her Nisei husband to Heart Mountain in Wyoming during World War II. She authored the book Lone Heart Mountain which included the drawings she did while in camp. She was the subject of Steven Okazaki’s Academy Award winning film Days of Waiting (1990). Yet, most of what we know is about her art. Dean’s exploration of JANM’s collection revealed artifacts that shared aspects about her personal life, and especially her deep love for her husband Arthur.

Read Estelle’s story >>

MacWilliamson radio
Gift of Joyce MacWilliamson (2001.120.1)

Part 4 – History is Lost: Joyce MacWilliamson

You may recognize the radio in part 4 from the American Tapestry exhibition. It is a beautiful shortwave radio, with a mysterious past that will most likely never be known. Left with Ramon “Mac” MacWilliamson by a Japanese American friend during World War II, he and his daughter always hoped to be able to return it the original owners after the war. After the story was posted on Discover Nikkei, Joyce MacWilliamson, the person who donated the radio to the museum, posted a comment, “Thank you for keeping hope alive that the rightful owner or his family will be found.”

Learn about her search and why she decided to donate the radio to JANM >>

Letter from Pvt. Masao Shigezane
Gift of Jane Van Blaricom (2001.72.58)

Part 5 – History is Found: Sumi and Masao Shigezane

The final part of the series ended with a surprising connection to a UCLA student’s project on Discover Nikkei. His search through JANM’s archives started with James G. Lindley, project director of the Amache camp during WWII, and led to the Shigezane family.

Read about this emotional journey >>

Dean Ryuta Adachi

I’d like to thank Dean for his work on unearthing and sharing these amazing stories. Many thanks also to Patricia Wakida who initiated this project, Yoko Nishimura for working so hard to get the stories online, and to JANM’s collections staff (Nikki Chang, Tomi Yoshikawa, Jane Nakasako, and Yoko Shimojo) for all their help in providing access and working with Dean during his time at JANM. Our CMA staff are the unsung heroes that work really hard behind-the-scenes at JANM!

Documenting Manzanar

We recently finished posting a wonderful essay about the documentation of Manzanar during World War II by Nancy Matsumoto on our Discover Nikkei website. It’s quite an extensive piece which we posted in 18 parts. There’s also great historic photographs that accompany each part.

Source: War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement Series 8: Manzanar Relocation Center

Documenting Manzanar
By Nancy Matsumoto
Read the essay >>

The article focuses especially on three photographers—Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake, but also about the documentation of Manzanar in art and in books by artists and authors like Miné Okubo, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Michi Weglyn.

It also examines various books and exhibitions, including the Ansel Adams exhibition here at JANM. It also references Two Views of Manzanar, an exhibition and book created by graduate students in the UCLA Fine Arts Program in the late 1970s. One of the students was Patrick Nagatani, whose works will be on display here in a retrospective exhibition opening next weekend.

As I’m writing this, I realize that we have something in our collections, exhibitions, and projects related to pretty much all of these things I’ve mentioned. We’ve just released the Farewell to Manzanar DVD based on the book & screenplay written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her husband. Our collections staff is currently working on a project to conserve & digitize Miné Okubo’s original drawings from Citizen 13660 (generously
supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “We The People” project), and we have original design sketches by Michi Weglyn from her days as a costume designer in New York.

These types of realizations tend to happen often. That’s one of the great things about working at the museum so long…getting to see how different aspects of our history and culture fit together. It also goes to show how inter-related the Japanese American community is!

Interview with Patrick Nagatani

We recently interviewed artist Patrick Nagatani and his upcoming retrospective exhibition opening at JANM next weekend. Check out the article on our Discover Nikkei website:

Seeing Beauty Through a Magic Lens: Patrick Nagatani and 35 Years of Art
By Darryl Mori
Read the interview >>

We also just launched the exhibition site which includes more information, including:

– short blurbs about the various series included in the exhibition

– prompts for the upcoming Guide by Cell audio guide that is being prepared with Patrick Nagatani

– an article about the exhibition by Lisa Sasaki who coordinated the travel of the show from the University of New Mexico’s University Art Museum. This is my favorite quote from the artist about why Nagatani feels that JANM is a perfect venue for the exhibition:

“This is the place that my parents will come to see my work. This is the place where it belongs.”

Check out the exhibition site >>

Photo courtesy of Karen Kuehn

GIDRA magazine

Our award-winning Watase Media Arts Center recently produced ten new videos for the Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism exhibition (on view through February 19, 2012).

For those who can’t make it down to see the exhibition or prefer to watch it from the comfort of your own home, we will be sharing them online over the next few months.

The first video up is about Gidra, the seminal magazine of the Asian American movement published from April 1969 to April 1974.

We also have scans from 4 full issues on Discover Nikkei:
April 1969 (first issue) | January 1971February 1973April 1974 (final issue)

For those of you who worked on, contributed to, or read Gidra, please take this survey: Did you Gidra survey >>

* * *

We’ll be posting new videos weekly. So check back for the links.

We’re pulling them together into a Drawing the Line playlist on our JANM YouTube channel too.

All of the videos are also available on DVD from the Museum Store: Drawing the Line DVD >>

Seinan Panel on Sun, October 30

“Seinan” is an area in Southwest Los Angeles, California, where a thriving Japanese American community existed before World War II.

Japanese American Living Legacy has gathered stories and personal experiences from people who lived in Seinan before World War II in the book published earlier this year, Seinan: Southwest Los Angeles, Stories and Experiences from Residents of Japanese Ancestry.

Join us this Sunday for a program in partnership with JA Living Legacy.

With moderator Ray Uyemura, four panelists—Ansho Mas Uchima, Minoru Shinmoto, Christine Uriu, and Thomas Shigekuni—will share stories about Seinan, including about the community’s religious groups, language schools, public schools, and social clubs.

There will be a book signing following the program.

SEINAN PANEL
Sunday, October 30, 2011 • 2pm
Japanese American National Museum

Come hear how Southwest Los Angeles was a thriving Nisei community that was almost wiped out with the forced removal and events of World War II.

For more information >>

Presented in collaboration with JA Living Legacy and the Japanese American National Museum.

 

We are sharing a chapter from the book on our Discover Nikkei website (parts 1 & 2 are now online, with the final part being posted this Sunday):

Shinmoto Family
By Minoru Shinmoto
Read the article >>

 

“Farewell to Manzanar” screening with Director John Korty!

Our Farewell to Manzanar screening is coming up this Sunday! The special guest will be Director John Korty who will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

One of our volunteers recently interviewed the award-winning director for our Discover Nikkei website about how he got into filmmaking, and about making Farewell to Manzanar into a film.

Read the interview >>

* * *

If you haven’t already purchased tickets for this special screening, here’s the info:

Farewell to Manzanar screening
Japanese American National Museum
Sunday, October 23, 2011 • 2pm
Join Director John Korty for a Q&A following the screening!

$25 Members; $30 non-members, includes admission and a complimentary copy of the DVD.

Purchase tickets >>

* * *

If you can’t make it to the screening, you can also order copies of the DVD from the Museum Store. The DVD includes bonus features: the Remembering Manzanar documentary created for the Manzanar National Historic Site; and an interview with Jeanne Wakatasuki Houston from when she was honored at the Museum’s 2006 Gala Dinner.

Order the DVD from the Museum Store >>

View video clips from the interview on Discover Nikkei >>

Volunteer Docent Sergio Holguin

For many people who visit the Museum, the highlight of their visit is often getting a tour from one of our many dedicated volunteer docents. Many of our docents share their own or their family’s first-hand experiences from World War II. However, as our older Nisei volunteers have slowed down a bit, the demand for docents is being increasingly met by those whose families were not incarcerated in America’s concentration camps.

Photo by Richard Watanabe

Although their experiences aren’t first-hand, their being there to share the Japanese American experience with our visitors is very important, and in some ways may even help non-JA visitor relate more with the stories.

One of our younger docents is Sergio Holguin, a computer science major at Cal Poly Pomona. Sergio is a third-generation Mexican American. He recently wrote a wonderful article for our Discover Nikkei website that shares how he became interested in Japanese American history, and why he decided to volunteer at the Museum.

Nisei? Sansei? No, I’m just a Gakusei
By Sergio Holguin
Read his article >>

*****

P.S. Here’s a 2009 article on Discover Nikkei about another non-JA Museum docent—Nahan Gluck:

The History of Japanese Americans from the Perspective of a German American: Mr. Nahan Gluck, docent for the Japanese American National Museum