We greeted over 6,000 visitors to JANM on January 8, 2023 as we welcomed in the Year of the Rabbit with oodles of family-friendly activities. Families of all ages enjoyed the New Year festivities including hand-sculpted candy-making demonstrations to craft activities and mochi (rice cake) pounding performances.
The occasion brought together those with Japanese ancestry keen to pass on cultural traditions to their young ones and others who came to share a memorable experience.
This is the first hybrid JANM Oshogatsu Family Festival since the pandemic. The all-day festival featured a range of events such as the improv comedy performance by Cold Tofu, the nation’s longest running AsianAmerican improv group, and the dynamic, large-scale calligraphy performance by Kunihara Yoshida.
Enjoy some highlights from the 2023 Oshogatsu Family Festival!
Watch the highlights from the 2023 Oshogatsu Family Festival! (available for a limited time only)
Inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s classic American novel published in 1869, the play Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) features four sisters and their Japanese American family living in post-World War II Los Angeles. Playwright Velina Hasu Houston keeps the names and personalities of the original March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—but in this tale, they are the Mayeda sisters. The novel and play have noticeable parallels, with the March and Mayeda families facing many of the same types of troubles. However, Houston’s transposition adds a dimension of racial prejudice that the March family never had to consider.
The Mayeda sisters and their mother, Marmee, move in with their Aunt Ming after spending time during the war in an American concentration camp in Colorado. Their father, Makoto, is a war hero, but he returned from the war with post-traumatic stress disorder and a drinking problem. In the recently integrated Los Angeles neighborhood to which they return, they find much-appreciated diversity in their African American neighbor, Mr. Lawrence, who is a retired hematologist, and his half-Italian grandson, Laurie. Aunt Ming, however, feels that her “old money” status is above the “new money” status of her new neighbors. Thus, Houston reveals how prejudice is present even among different minorities that have each had injustice wrought upon them.
Completing Houston’s diverse cast are Mr. Bhat, Laurie’s tutor from Calcutta, and Professor Briones from Mexico City, Jo meets on her journey to New York in act two of the play. The supporting male characters in the play including Laurie, Mr. Bhat, and Professor Briones, each take an interest in one of the Mayeda sisters. However, the drama is heightened when Beth, the shyest of the four, has an unfortunate accident, which sends the whole family into a panic. The audience will remain captivated throughout the conflict, climax, and conclusion of the play.
There have been many adaptations of Alcott’s Little Women, but Houston’s depiction of the classic is unlike any other. This time period was significant for Japanese Americans and many others seeking to overcome the racial prejudices of World War II. Houston successfully depicts how the story of Little Women can be any family’s story, and yet in this particular version, there’s much more being said about the simmering social strife that is right beneath the surface.
Houston is a professor of dramatic writing at the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts. She is also a well-known writer with many produced commissions, both in theater and opera. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and her current projects are with the Los Angeles Opera, The Pasadena Playhouse, Theatre Works (Palo Alto), Playwrights’ Arena/Center Theatre Group, Now Africa Playwrights’ Festival, and National Public Radio. One of her most famous plays to date is Tea, which is an internationally presented play about the experiences of Japanese women.
See Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) at JANM on Saturday, December 15 in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum. Members are invited to an exclusive pre-event reception with Velina Hasu Houston. RSVP HERE.
The Tateuchi Democracy Forum welcomed a full house on Tuesday, September 9, as JANM celebrated the 30th anniversary of the beloved film The Karate Kid with a reception, screening, and panel discussion. This highly anticipated event featured live appearances by star Ralph Macchio, director John Avildsen, Aly Morita (daughter of deceased star Pat Morita), and co-stars Billy Zabka (“Johnny Lawrence”) and Martin Kove (“John Kreese”). Among the guests in the audience were Tamlyn Tomita, star of The Karate Kid II; JANM Board of Trustees member Wendy Shiba; and JANM New Leadership Advisory Council president Kira Teshima.
Many avid fans of the movie, some of whom had seen it when it first came out in 1984, were in the audience. During the screening, people clapped wildly for classic scenes, such as Mr. Miyagi protecting Daniel from the gang of teenage boys, and Daniel executing his tournament-winning crane kick.
Jared Cowan, a photographer who recently wrote a cover story about The Karate Kid for LA Weekly, moderated a Q&A session following the film. The stars and director reminisced about the making of the film while Aly Morita shared her childhood memories of her father. The panelists also brought the film’s martial arts choreographer, Darryl Vidal, to the stage for an extended explanation of the iconic crane kick. While inspired by classic martial arts moves, the kick itself was specifically created by Vidal to heighten the drama of the climactic scene.
JANM volunteer Richard Murakami spoke for many in the audience when he offered a heartfelt thanks to the group for creating a sensitive portrayal of a Japanese American man during a time when such portrayals were rare. “It made me proud,” he said, generating a round of applause.
JANM’s highly anticipated exhibition, Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World will be opening to the public this Saturday, March 8th!
Perseverance is a groundbreaking exhibition and the first of its kind, as it will explore Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints. This exhibition will also examine current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan.
Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, Horitaka, Horitomo, Chris Horishiki Brand, Miyazo, Shige, Junii, and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others. Through the display of a variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, these artists will cover a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing.
Many exciting things are planned for the public opening of Perseverance! Join us from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for an event that will feature Live Tattoo Demonstrations by Horitomo, Miyazo, Shige, and Yokohama Horiken including tattooing by both machine and tebori—traditional Japanese tattooing by hand.
Saturday’s public opening will also pack in the afternoon with lectures given by curator Horitaka (Takahiro Kitamura), exhibition designer and photographer Kip Fulbeck, and a number of the artists featured in the exhibition—Junko Junii Shimada, Chris Horishiki Brand, Jill Horiyuki Halpin, and Chaz Bojorquez. The program will also include a live tattoo model unveiling.
These back-to-back lectures will begin at 1 p.m., and the last lecture will be given at 4:30 p.m.Don’t miss this opportunity to listen to artists and contributors talk about their work in the exhibition and the importance of the art of tattoo in their life!
Saturday’s opening will conclude with a signing of the exhibition catalogue with all of the attending artists. The catalogue, along with a variety of custom merchandise produced for the exhibition, will be available for sale at the Museum Store. Get your copy of the exhibition catalogue signed by these amazing artists!
The programs are free with museum admission. Purchase admission at the front desk of the Museum on event day. No pre-payment accepted. Last entrance to the National Museum will be at 5 p.m.
Lectures will take place in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (glass building across the Courtyard from main building). Admission required for entry. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis, until maximum capacity is reached. Seating is limited so please arrive early!
Here’s another great perk for being a Museum member:
Be one of the first five Museum members to email us and win the opportunity to participate in our upcoming program, Japanese Tea Ceremony: Sado on Saturday, February 22, 2014!
Winners will be part of the tea ceremony demonstration in front of an audience and will be served tea and snacks by the ceremony officiators.
To enter, send an email to email@example.com with the subject: “Tea Ceremony” and include your name and membership number. Winners will receive a confirmation from the Museum, along with instructions for the day.
One entry per membership #. Must be a current member to participate.
The tea ceremony will take place at 2pm in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (glass building across the courtyard from the main building). Please arrive early for good seating.
Please call the Museum at 213.625.0414 to RSVP. The program is free with Museum admission (free for Museum members!). Make sure to get your admission sticker at the Museum front desk before arriving at the program site.
Meet Lela Lee, author and artist of the web comic book series Angry Little Girls, at the Japanese American National Museum!
Lela Lee, cultural phenom and entrepreneur, was just an undergraduate at UC Berkeley when she decided to let off some steam by creating the character of Kim, a no-nonsense, surly, and vocal Asian American female.
Through her characters of Kim, Deborah, Maria, Wanda, Xyla, Pat, and Bruce, Lela delivers biting comebacks from the mouths of those who are usually on the receiving end of sexist or racist comments.
Meet the author who skewers pop culture and stereotypes in all her books, short films, comic book series, and merchandise. Take advantage of your chance to hear her in person.
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EXCLUSIVE FOR JANM MEMBERS ONLY!
Meet and Greet with Lela Lee
Saturday, October 19th • 1 PM
Intimate dessert reception with Lela Lee for JANM members. Please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.830.5657.
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FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
A Conversation with Lela Lee
Saturday, October 19th • 2 PM
The author and artist will discuss her comics. Free with paid Museum admission.
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Need a gift for a special angry girl?
Lela Lee’s Angry Little Girls books are available through our award-winning Museum Store—Angry Little Girls, Still Angry Little Girls, Angry Little Girls in Love, and Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls are sure to strike a humorous chord!
These programs are presented in conjunction with Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 on view at JANM through February 9, 2014. For more information about this exhibition and related public programs, visit janm.org/marvels-monsters.
On Saturday, September 28th the Japanese American National Museum will be presenting a free Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration as part of the 3rd Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival.
The Japanese tea ceremony is called chanoyu or sado in Japanese. It is a choreographed ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all of one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but it is about the aesthetics, and preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart.
This Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration is presented as part of the Tateuchi Public Programs Series, an organized partnership between the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation and the Japanese American National Museum. Tateuchi Public Programs develop presentations that explore the connections between Japan and the United States in the context of politics, art, music, and culture. The programs series aims to enhance understanding between the two countries.
The 3rd Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival is being presented by the Chado Tea Room at JANM on Saturday & Sunday, September 28-29, 2013. The Tea Festival is an educational and entertaining event about the multifaceted world of tea that will bring together authors, industry experts, buyers, retailers, artists, educators, and tea-lovers from across the country. It will give you the opportunity to sample some of the world’s finest and most varied flavors of teas, attend presentations by leading tea authors and industry experts, and meet premier tea and tea-ware suppliers all at one place!
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn new facts and expand your enjoyment of this fascinating beverage!
For more information and to purchase tickets for the Los Angeles International Tea Festival, please visit www.teafestivalla.com.
Check out photos from a previous tea ceremony demonstration held at JANM. Click on the photos to see the full images.
Photo Credits: Amjadkhan Pathan
Stay updated on all of the museum’s events, including the tea ceremony by visiting www.janm.org/events.
Join us everySaturday at 1 p.m. for Our American Voice, a two-person show exploring six diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans, held every Saturday at 1pm in the gallery.
Created in partnership with East West Players for our new exhibition I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story, the performance is directed by Jennifer Chang and features Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Johnny Kwon in the six pieces written by D’Lo, Vivian Keh-Hue, Giovanni Ortega, Jeanne Sakata and Ova Saopeng, and Judy Soo Hoo.
Each piece is a slice in the life of an Asian Pacific American. Overall, they come together to form a larger picture representing the worlds of vastly different people, spanning decades and ethnicities, but ultimately united by their experience of being Asian in America. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the work of talented writers and actors come alive in an intimate setting!
Here are brief synopsis for the 6 pieces:
TAKING FLIGHT (excerpt) by Judy Soo hoo
Katherine Cheung defied family tradition and crossed racial lines to become the first licensed Asian American female aviator in 1932. During the 1930s, Cheung barnstormed across California, and her fame as a stunt pilot led to an invitation to join Amelia Earhart’s Ninety-Nines, an all-female flying club.
FORGOTTEN HOMELAND by Ova Saopeng
Lao-American siblings Soukki and Joy, refugees from the Vietnam War Era, must confront each other about a return trip to their homeland of Laos. How will they reconnect with a homeland that has long been forgotten and is so far away?
ALLOS (excerpt) by Giovanni Ortega
When young ALLOS arrives in the United States we witness his journey to find employment as well as acceptance amid the hardships of the Great Depression and bigotry of our past.
DYING FOR LOVE by D’Lo
An immigrant Sri Lankan nurse shares her conclusions on love and loneliness in America.
HOLD THESE TRUTHS (excerpt) by Jeanne Sakata
At Seattle’s University of Washington during WWII, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a curfew is announced for all people of Japanese ancestry requiring them to be in their homes by 8PM. Gordon Hirabayashi, a Nisei student at the University, reluctantly obeys the order until one night when he rushes back to his YMCA dorm—and suddenly has an epiphany that stops him in his tracks.
DUTY AND DESIRE by Vivian Keh-Hue
In the midst of the trendy Koreatown club scene, an unexpected reunion occurs between childhood friends Penelope and Chester. While quick to judge one another regarding their choices in life, both characters find themselves driven by values common to the Korean American experience, having to navigate the rift between duty and desire.
Premiere at the I Want the Wide American Earth Opening Party
Friday, September 13, 2013 • 6:30PM – 10:30PM
Performances held in the exhibition gallery at 1PM each Saturday:
September 14 • September 21 • September 28
• October 5 • October 12 • October 19 • October 26
I Want the Wide American Earth tells the story of Asian and Pacific islanders in America through a series of 30 evocative banners accompanied by a selection of artifacts chosen from the collections of the Japanese American National Museum and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. I Want the Wide American Earth runs from September 14 to October 27, 2013.
Opening Party Friday, September 13
Whether you rep the 626, can’t get enough of boba, or just really love Asian Pacific American history, come out to the opening party for I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story!
The opening party will have loads of great entertainment and treats. YouTube comedy and music stars The Fung Brothers and DANakaDAN will be performing live, along with music from DJ Tony. We will also be debuting a new two-person show, Our American Voice. The show, presented in partnership with East West Players, explores diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans. And if you get peckish between performances, head on over to the Mighty Boba Truck for a delicious drink!
Through a Smithsonian traveling display of 30 banners of poignant text, photographs, and art, I Want the Wide American Earth takes a sweeping look at how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of our nation’s history.
Thanks to the Smithsonian and exhibition sponsor W.K. Kellogg Foundation; public programs sponsors: MetLife Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and media sponsors: Angry Asian Man, KSCI-TV LA-18, and The Rafu Shimpo.
What better way to get into the spirit of summer festivals than with some new duds? Try on a yukata with the help of Suehiro Kimono Agency and get your photo taken at our Natsumatsuri Family Festival this weekend on Saturday, August 10!
Yukata are traditional Japanese garments for both men and women. Unlike kimono, they are worn for casual occasions, especially during the summer for special events such as obon or firework displays. They are unlined and made of cotton—making them nice and cool for those long, hot days.
In Heian-era Japan, court nobles wore linen yukata after bathing, a practice later adopted by the public with the popularization of public baths. Today, they are often brightly colored with fun patterns such as florals or geometric designs. Many young women coordinate their yukata color with that of their obi, or sash—some even wearing a more transparent obi on top for decoration. Some go all out and also wear geta, or traditional wooden clogs, and a kanzashi, a cute hair ornament.
2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival FREE ALL DAY!
Saturday, August 10, 2013
11AM – 5PM
2PM – 5PM: Try on a yukata and have your picture taken!
Suehiro Kimono Agency will dress you in a yukata so you can have a special picture to take home! Yukata are traditional light Japanese garments worn during the summer to keep cool.