Catch Nisei Widows Club at East West Players starting on November 7th!


The Japanese American National Museum is pleased to support East West Players as a community partner for The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got her Groove Back.

The third installment of The Nisei Widows Club comic trilogy follows the lives of a group of widowed Nisei (second generation) women who only have each other in the face of loss and the search for love in their golden years. Tomi loses her only son to a heart attack at the early age of 45, and the other widows gather around her during this time of grief. Hilarity ensues when they embark on an unforgettable trip to Hawaii, which unleashes the cougar in all of them at a hula retreat.

“The ‘Nisei Widows Club’ have really struck a humorous chord with the community, even though the story centers around loss,” says Tim Dang, Producing Artistic Director of East West Players. “This newest story will feature even more laughter demonstrating the strength of these senior citizen women in times of adversity.”

The production brings back the original four “Nisei Widows”—Takayo Fischer as Sumi, Emily Kuroda as Hana, June Kyoko Lu as Betty, Jeanne Sakata as Tomi. EWP introduces Tui Asau as the object of their desire—Kimo the hula teacher.

Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Johnny Kwon give powerful performances in the Gallery Performance, Our American Voice
Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Johnny Kwon give powerful performances in “Our American Voice”

JANM has a long history of partnership with East West Players—from hosting play readings presented by EWP, to our current collaboration, Our American Voice, a two-person show exploring six diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans that is performed inside the exhibition gallery in conjunction with the I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story exhibition which was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

This dynamic gallery performance stars Traci Kato-Kiriyama and Johnny Kwon portraying both historic and fictional characters, including Gordon Hirabayashi, Katherine Cheung (the first licensed Asian American female aviator), and poet Carlos Bulosan.

If you haven’t seen it already, you have one last chance to see Our American Voice this Saturday, October 26 at 1PM! Be sure to check out the exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth, before it closes on Sunday, October 27.


The Nisei Widows Club: How Tomi Got Her Groove Back
By Betty Tokudani
Directed by Amy Hill

November 7 – December 8, 2013

Preview Performances:
Thursday, November 7 – November 9 at 8pm
Sunday, November 10 at 2pm
All preview seats are $21, $16 for students.

Regular Performances:
November 14 – November 29: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
November 30 – December 8: Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm

David Henry Hwang Theater
at the Union Center of the Arts
120 Judge John Aiso Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012.

For more information please visit

A Carlos Bulosan Centenary Celebration at JANM

Carlos Bulosan

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Join us for a special Carlos Bulosan centenary celebration at JANM!

The Writer is Also a Citizen,” is a FREE event, and will take place on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 2PM in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum.

Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956) was a poet, novelist, essayist, fiction writer, and labor organizer who left the Philippines at age 17 to look for work in the U.S. What he found was racism, low-paying jobs, and a brilliant and unexpected literary career.

In conjunction with the closing of the exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story, whose title is taken from one of Bulosan’s poems, five Filipino-American writers—including poet Barbara Jane Reyes (Diwata, For the City That Nearly Broke Me) and playwright and novelist Noël Alumit (Letters to Montgomery Clift)—will read from Bulosan’s diverse body of work and from their own in celebration of the centenary of this seminal writer, worker, and citizen. Also featuring Rachelle Cruz, Giovanni Ortega, and Chris Santiago.

Carlos Bulosan
Carlos Bulosan

Don’t miss this celebration of Carlos Bulosan’s legacy, and the closing of the exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth.


If you haven’t seen the exhibition already, I Want the Wide American will close on October 27, 2013, so be sure to catch it before then!

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to watch Our American Voice, the special two-person performance presented in collaboration with East West Players, the final two performances will be on Saturday, October 19 & Saturday, October 26 at 1PM. One of the six stories included is an excerpt from ALLOS by Giovanni Ortega which presents the story of Carlos Bulosan.

For more information on the exhibition, visit

I Want the Wide American Earth’s promotional video is released!

JANM's 2013 interns celebrate the end of a great summer internship!
JANM’s 2013 interns celebrate the end of a great summer internship!

Every summer the Getty Foundation organizes a Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program in Los Angeles that aims to encourage greater diversity in the professions related to museums and the visual arts. This year JANM hired three interns—Kelly in Media Arts, Cindi in Production, and myself, Esther, in the Curatorial department.

For the majority of the summer we worked separately, but for the last few weeks, we worked together to produce a final collaboration project which would culminate in a promotional video for the exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.

Media Arts intern, Kelly, searches for artifacts on JANM's database.
Media Arts intern, Kelly, searches for artifacts on JANM’s database.

As the exhibition  takes a sweeping look at how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of U.S. history, we decided to interview Asian Pacific Americans of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and occupations on a variety of topics. Our central question was “What do you want from your America?”. We also asked each interviewee to finish the sentence “I am…”. We got a wide array of answers that allows any viewer to appreciate the cultural, historical, and social diversity among Asian Pacific Americans.

Cindi and Esther are guided through JANM's artifacts by Collections  Manager, Maggie Wetherbee.
The interns are guided through the Collections Department by JANM’s Collections Manager, Maggie Wetherbee.

For footage we used photographs from the exhibition itself, and made stops around Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and Chinatown. We also visited our own Collections Department at JANM to photograph artifacts and photographs that were relevant to the exhibition. It was an exciting day because we saw how expansive our Collections Department is, and we got to personally handle artifacts!

A shot from Wong Fu Productions'  "10 Year Anniversary" clip.
A shot from Wong Fu Productions’ “10 Year Anniversary” clip.

We were also granted permission from Youtube stars including, fitness instructor Cassey Ho from Blogilates, singers David Choi and Clara C, and Wong Fu Productions for our preview clip. Although we did not use all of these clips for our final video, we were able to get exciting experience communicating with professionals, and were able compile more than enough footage so that we had many options while editing our video.

Check out our final video to see who’s footage and interviews made it into our collaboration project!

Curatorial intern, Esther carefully handling a "Justice for Vincent Chin" pin from the 80s.
Curatorial intern, Esther, carefully handling a “Justice for Vincent Chin” pin from the ’80s.


It was a time-consuming project, but it was also a great experience because we were able to collaborate with each other, appreciate each of our talents, and examine how different departments come together to produce a project. For us, this experience reinforced the fact that museums, including JANM, are not made up of individuals working separately, but rather, individuals working and collaborating together to produce something great!


Cindi, JANM's 2013 production intern, designing a event flyer.
Cindi, JANM’s 2013 production intern, designing an event flyer.

If you haven’t seen it already, I Want the Wide American Earth is on display at JANM until October 27th. Also, be sure to catch Our American Voice—a special two-person show starring Traci Kato-Kiriyama, and Johnny Kwon (also the narrators of our final video), exploring six diverse stories of Asian Pacific Americans. This special performance was produced in partnership with East West Players, and will be performed at 1pm in the exhibition gallery every Saturday for the duration of the exhibition.

Photos by: Kelly Gates, and Esther Shin.


For more information on I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story, visit:


Don’t miss our comics-themed Target Free Family Saturday!

Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986

Zap! Pow! Bam! Sounds like our comics-themed Target Free Family Saturday is coming up!

Visit JANM on October 12th from 11AM – 4PM to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986, with comics-themed crafts and activities!

Superhero cape & mask making
Make your own superhero cape and mask!


JANM has planned an action packed day!

From assembling your own popcorn snack with Kidding Around the Kitchen, to making your own superhero costume and capturing it in a photo booth, there are activities planned for kids of all ages and interests. You’ll even be able to watch vintage Japanese anime at its earliest roots from the 1920s and 1930s!

Make sure to catch a special Marvels & Monsters Gallery Talk at 11:30am by Jeff Yang, the curator of the exhibition. You won’t want to miss Jeff Yang share special insight into the creation of Marvels & Monsters!


jeff wnyc
Join curator, Jeff Yang, for a special Gallery Talk on the exhibition, Marvels & Monsters!

There will be an interactive activity shortly after the Gallery Talk where you can “Build a Hero” at 12PM, or “Build a Villain” at 2:30PM.

Jeff Yang will lead the audience in collaboratively creating an ORIGINAL comic book super-character who’ll be drawn in real time by comic artists from the Secret Identities and Shattered anthologies! There will also be a book signing after each of these sessions!

Batman Caricature by Cartoon Slinger
Batman Caricature by Cartoon Slinger

Don’t leave the Museum before getting a chance to turn yourself into a comic-book character with a caricature drawn by Cartoon Slinger! (*for children only, line ends at 2:30pm)

Make sure you top off your day by teaming up with your buddies to take down villains in superhero video games brought to you by Game Truck!

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I Want the Wide American Earth – Opening Party Photos

On Friday, September 13, the Japanese American National Museum threw an opening party to welcome our newest exhibition, I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story. Created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, I Want the Wide American Earth explores the rich, and deep-rooted history of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States.

This event was open to the public and attracted hundreds of visitors, including locals, and travelers from different states. Free food from Aloha Cafe and drinks from Ito-en and the Mighty Boba Truck were served throughout the reception, while exciting performances filled the evening.

From previews of Our American Voice in the exhibition gallery presented in partnership with East West Players, to powerful numbers by YouTube stars, DANakaDAN + Crew Love, to the comical performances of The Fung Brothers, it was an evening of enlightenment, reflection, and entertainment.

The evening began by celebrating the opening of an exhibition, but it soon became a night to celebrate the history, accomplishments, and the exciting future of Asian Pacific Americans.

Check out these pictures from the opening party! (Click on the photos to see them larger)

Photos by: Tsuneo Takasugi, Richard Watanabe, and Richard Murakami.

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If you haven’t seen I Want the Wide American Earth yet, stop by the museum to view the exhibition before it closes on October 27th. If you didn’t get a chance to watch Our American Voice, East West Players will be performing every Saturday at 1:00PM throughout the run of the exhibition. For more information on the exhibition:

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marvels-monsters-signature-500pxMarvels & Monsters opening next week!

Don’t miss our next exhibition opening event! Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 will be at JANM from October 12, 2013 – February 9, 2014, but we’ll be celebrating early on Thursday, October 10 from 6PM – 9:30PM. 

Traveling to JANM from the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Marvels & Monsters will illustrate how evolving racial and cultural archetypes defined America’s perceptions of Asians through a selection of images from comic books representing four turbulent decades.

This preview reception will be hosted by the JANM Young Professionals Network and is free and open to the public! Get a sneak peek at the exhibition and check out readings of the winning short scenes from the “Marvels & Monsters: Unbound” Showcase!

For more information on the exhibition: