The opening celebration for Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design & Activism in Post-War Los Angeles is just a couple of hours away!
Join us tonight from 5:30 to 8pm to celebrate the opening members, many of the artists and their families & friends, and special guests. There’ll be a special performance by Nobuko Miyamoto with Benny Yee & Atomic Nancy!
Our staff & volunteers have been working hard to get the show ready to open. Along with the artwork & artifacts, our Watase Media Arts Center has developed new video segments about each of the featured artists. You’ll be able to view them in the exhibition, but will also be available for sale on a DVD through the Museum Store. There’s also a Guide by Cell audio guide with audio clips from the interview.
Check out the updated exhibition site for more info on the Guide by Cell, to see the bios for the featured artists, plus links to full scans from 4 issues of Gidra magazine on Discover Nikkei! There’s also more exhibition-related public programs added (more to come!).
Have you ever wanted to record the history of your grandparents, your parents, or other people in your life?
In 2009, Cole Kawana was a sixth grader at Seven Arrows School. His assignment was to do a service-learning project, and so with the help of his extended family, he conducted an oral history interview with his great-uncle, Arthur Ichiro Murakami, who is a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor.
In addition to the oral history, he decided to create a video tutorial so that he could teach and encourage his fellow students to try it for themselves.
His video tutorial was shown as part of Xploration Lab this past spring. It’s now also on the Museum’s Discover Nikkei website.
We’ve split the tutorial up into segments, with each one going over different steps in the process, including equipment, preparation, conducting the interview, and follow-up.
In addition to Cole’s tutorial video clips, we’ve added a downloadable checklist and sample release form. We’re also working on sample questions and translating everything into the other site languages (Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese).
At the end of the page, you can view the interview that Cole conducted with his great-uncle, plus links to additional online oral history resources.
Our volunteers are amazing. They continually inspire us with their dedication and enthusiasm. They are even willing to step outside their comfort zones if it means helping the museum to share the important stories of the Japanese American experience.
Since last summer, staff at our Watase Media Arts Center along with interns and volunteers have been working on a series of digital shorts that record many of our docents and other volunteers. The videos share the volunteer’s personal stories related to artifacts from our core Common Ground: The Heart of Community exhibition.
We’re collecting them together for easy access on our Discover Nikkei website. There are already 15 of the videos online, with more being added almost weekly.
Check out the volunteer videos on Discover Nikkei:
The 21st Century Museum: Significant artifacts selected by Japanese American National Museum Volunteers http://5dn.org/janm-vols
Volunteers featured so far: Bob Uragami, Babe Karasawa, Yae Aihara, Richard Murakami, Yoko Horimoto, Jim Tanaka, Tohru Isobe, Mas Yamashita, Robert Moriguchi, Kathryn Madara, Kent Hori, May Porter, Eileen Sakamoto, Lee Hayashi, and Roy Sakamoto.
Amy Hill will be at the museum this weekend for 3 performances of her show, “LOST AND FOUND, Life as I (K)NEW It.”
October 1 @ 7 pm
October 2 @ 2 pm & 7 pm
Amy Hill explores how her life has evolved since her daughter became a part of her family. She talks about adoption, single motherhood, multiracial/transracial identity mash-ups and her continuing struggles to figure it all out in a humorous and honest way. Far from her days of flying solo, she has moved into a not so solo world: her daughter may or may not make an appearance.
Next Saturday, on September 24th at 2pm, Dr. ShiPu Wang will be at the Museum to talk about his book, Becoming American? The Art and Identity Crisis of Yasuo Kuniyoshi.
Yasuo Kuniyoshi was one of the preeminent 20th century American artists. He was active in New York as a teacher and in both artist circles and Japanese American organizations from pre-war until his death in 1953. At the time, he was an internationally known painter and graphic artist, but sadly is not well known now, particularly in the Japanese American community.
Becoming American? is the first scholarly book in over two decades to offer a critical evaluation of the pivotal art of Yasuo Kuniyoshi.
We asked one of our volunteer writers to interview Dr. Wang about the book for our Discover Nikkei website:
In 2005, we opened the Big Drum: Taiko in the United States exhibition. It was the first exhibition since my joining the Web unit at JANM where we really developed a lot of cool resources online in conjunction with an exhibit. I had the opportunity to work with curator Sojin Kim, our web technologist Geoff Jost, and volunteer writers to develop & upload a lot of great historic and contemporary photos, activities, and articles on the exhibition site.
The other major component we developed was a database of taiko groups in the U.S., but also included some other groups outside of Japan. We set up the database using some basic info collected for the exhibition. Then, we contacted all of the groups and invited them to log in and update/add to their group info, and upload some photos & audio clips.
It was always so interesting to look at what groups had added information because it showed the growth and popularity of taiko. There were groups all over the U.S. (even in places where there aren’t many Japanese Americans), and many in Canada, and even in Europe (there are 4 groups listed in Belgium)!
After the initial activity during the exhibition run, not many of the groups updated their info. When the redesigned Discover Nikkei site went live in July 2009, we launched it without the Taiko Database, always intending to add it back in once we had some time to work on it.
It’s been 2 years, but I’m really excited that we recently launched our new & improved Taiko Groups section! It has the old database info, photos, and audio clips, but presented in a new layout with easier accessibility, and incorporates events posted by the groups onto their taiko group pages.
San Jose Taiko has already started updating their info and we hope that other groups will join them soon.
P.S. If you are with or know of any taiko groups, please encourage them to update their pages! It’s a great & free way to share your group’s contact info, general info, history, photos, audio clips, videos, and upcoming events!
If you need help with your group’s login info, or if your group is not already listed and you’d like to be added, contact email@example.com.
My name is Maya Kochiyama and I am the new Discover Nikkei intern this summer at the Japanese American National Museum through the Nikkei Community Internship program. I am entering my junior year at UC Berkeley as an Integrative Biology major.
As part of the Discover Nikkei staff, I would cordially like to invite you to take our Discover Nikkei Survey!
We are conducting this survey in hopes of learning more about the diverse array of Nikkei communities around the world. The results from this survey will be analyzed and presented at the XVI COPANI (Conventions of the Association of Pan American Nikkei) Discover Nikkei Conference in Cancun, Mexico in September.
It’s a quick and easy 10-minute survey that may even get you thinking about your own cultural identity.
As my fellow interns have mentioned, the JANM is not the place for a diet. The Japanese Village Plaza is less than a stone’s throw away, the area is full of froyo and sweets shops, and the staff room is filled daily with a plentiful bounty of docent-brought treats. In conjunction with my new existence as a sedentary, headphone wearing, video editing machine, I can feel the pounds piling on. Flashbacks of my “Freshman Fifteen” come rushing back as I realize I am gaining what I’ve decided to call my “Getty Intern Gut.”
For ten weeks, I’ll forgo the summer California girl look of toned body and flawless tan, in exchange for a more pleasantly plump, florescent light-fostered glow. Of course, the food and company I’ve had is well worth it.
I’ve found that times at the JANM are celebrated with great food. Today marks the last day for another intern, Mia. To commemorate the occasion, the whole office went to lunch. And where else would the staff and interns of one of the largest Japanese American museums go but Chinatown. (**Side note: Japanese people always seem to come together for Chinese food. Be it a wedding, funeral, or family reunion, pan fried noodles always seem to beat out sticky rice for celebratory food. It’s something I’ve never understood…)
Mia’s celebratory lunch was at a wonderful little dim sum restaurant. We all had our fill of noodles stuffed with shrimp and beef, fried squid, rice, and Chinese vegetables. The feast was delicious, and the company at the table couldn’t be beat. One of the best things about these fantastic lunch dates is the friendships I can feel forming with the people I work with. Sure, sometimes conversation turns to business: the Discover Nikkei files that still need to be looked over, or some new exhibition space. But more often, deeper connections are made.
I’ve learned that Vicky has a thing for food photography. Before a grain of rice goes into her mouth, at least one picture must be taken. The result is a mouth watering online food diary whose size is comparable to that of the Museum archives. I’ve learned that Yoko can speak three languages. Geoff has a huge knowledge of science fiction literature. I’ve learned that John, long-time Obon attendee, is going to dance at his first Obon this summer (the Media Arts department is still trying to get footage of him practicing—more on that to come, hopefully).
This internship has proved edifying in more ways than I can count. I’m learning to shoot tape and edit video, sure, but I’m also learning about the people I work with, and the culture I come from. I’m learning to love and accept it all–even my Getty Gut. The trick, I’ve found, is not to run to the treadmill or the stair master. Instead, all I can do is sit back, smile, and try to get some work done before the food coma sets in.
June gloom is finally beginning to burn off, and all my school friends are enjoying the break tanning on the beautiful Santa Barbara beach by day and partying by night. I, instead, sit typing at my internship desk, with loaned keyboard, computer, and office space. My days are filled with waking up earlier than I have in years, falling asleep, against my will, exhausted, the moment I get home, battling the 110 north, and having the time of my life at the National Museum.
My name is Alyctra Matsushita. I’m going to be a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara (go Gauchos!), studying English and Asian American Studies. I’m also the Japanese American National Museum’s Media Arts Intern, one of three undergraduate students commissioned for ten weeks to intern at the Museum by courtesy of the Getty Museum.
I’ve been here less than two weeks, but I’ve already learned so much. I’ve met the huge multitude of volunteers–some of them several times over. It feels like every time I walk into a room, I’m introduced to a new crop. Even though there are gaggles of them, they’re each personable and kind—in the mornings they offer the interns coffee cake and other treats, they have potlucks and snacks, and every one has dozens of stories, from war memories and tales that they share willingly with my fellow interns, to gardening secrets and other gossip secretly whispered to more trusted fellow docents.
In the last two weeks, I’ve also learned more than I ever even knew existed about the multimedia world. I’ve gotten to cut and edit tape to be used for the Discover Nikkei website—as a self-proclaimed Asian American Studies nerd, this was especially exciting because I’ve explored the site multiple times for both academic research, as well as recreation. To see the behind the scenes work involved after exploring the site myself was especially satisfying. I also did my first solo shoot—a book party with testimonials from the Japanese Americans from Lompoc!
All in all, the first two weeks have gone by quickly. Getting the hang of things the first couple of days was a bit wracking, but now that I know what’s what, things are smooth sailing. I’m very excited for the next eight weeks, and can only imagine the fun they will bring!
My wife and I recently moved to northeast Pasadena. While on one of my walks in the new neighborhood, I was pleasantly surprised to find a memorial to not only a Japanese American Veteran but Medal of Honor Winner Staff Sergeant Joe Hayashi of Company K of the 442 Regemental Combat team.
I was inspired to learn more about what he did. So I went on Discover Nikkei and this is what I found:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to:
PRIVATE JOE HAYASHI, United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Private Joe Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 20 and 22 April 1945, near Tendola, Italy. On 20 April 1945, ordered to attack a strongly defended hill that commanded all approaches to the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi skillfully led his men to a point within 75 yards of enemy positions before they were detected and fired upon. After dragging his wounded comrades to safety, he returned alone and exposed himself to small arms fire in order to direct and adjust mortar fire against hostile emplacements. Boldly attacking the hill with the remaining men of his squad, he attained his objective and discovered that the mortars had neutralized three machine guns, killed 27 men, and wounded many others.
On 22 April 1945, attacking the village of Tendola, Private Hayashi maneuvered his squad up a steep, terraced hill to within 100 yards of the enemy. Crawling under intense fire to a hostile machine gun position, he threw a grenade killing one enemy soldier and forcing the other members of the gun crew to surrender. Seeing four enemy machine guns delivering deadly fire upon other elements of his platoon, he threw another grenade, destroying a machine gun nest. He then crawled to the right flank of another machine gun position where he killed four enemy soldiers and forced the others to flee. Attempting to pursue the enemy, he was mortally wounded by a burst of machine pistol fire. The dauntless courage and exemplary leadership of Private Hayashi enabled his company to attain its objective.
Private Hayashi’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
The memorial is located at Victory Park. If you know of other memorials, take a picture and send it to me at ksakai[a]janm.org and I’ll be sure to post it on our blog!