JANM in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

COPANI 2013 is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
COPANI 2013 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Convention of Pan-American Nikkei  (COPANI) is the most important Pan-American Nikkei event. First held in 1981, it is a biannual meeting point for Nikkei from the Americas and Japan where they can exchange experiences, learn from each other, and above all, create friendship bonds beyond frontiers.

This year, the 17th COPANI was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 12-14 2013. It was organized by the Centro Nikkei Argentino and a youth staff of approximately 80 young Argentinian Nikkei.

Approximately 500 people attended, including JANM’s very own Discover Nikkei Project Manager, Yoko Nishimura.

Chef Takehiro Ohno's presentation is one of the highlights of the convention.
Chef Takehiro Ohno’s presentation was one of the highlights of the convention. Photo Credit: COPANI 2013

This is not the first year Discover Nikkei, an international project of JANM, has been a part of COPANI. In 2005, former President/CEO of JANM, Akemi Kikumura Yano presented at COPANI 2005 in Canada. Since then, Yoko Nishimura has participated in every COPANI, starting from COPANI 2007 in BrazilCOPANI 2009 in UruguayCOPANI 2011 in Mexico, and this year’s COPANI in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Carlos Kasuga, Director General of Yakult S.A de C.V., is asked what "Nikkei" means to him.
Carlos Kasuga, Director General of Yakult S.A de C.V., was asked what “Nikkei” means to him.

This year, in collaboration with COPANIDiscover Nikkei, organized a photo activity asking the question, “What does ‘Nikkei’ mean to you?” There was a wide range of participants from 13 different countries, and from ages 15-84. Check out the diverse pool of statements, mostly recorded in Spanish, on Discover Nikkei’s website: 5dn.org/copani2013


The Convention of Pan-American Nikkei (COPANI) is an international biennial convention that is coordinated by the Pan American Nikkei Association, a multi-national, non-governmental organization with members from 14 countries. The host country of each convention is selected from members’ countries. Learn more about COPANI and the Pan American Nikkei Association at www.webapn.org.

What is Nikkei

Discover Nikkei is a community website about Nikkei identity, history, and experiences. The goal of this project is to provide an inviting space for the community to share, explore, and connect with each other through diverse Nikkei perspectives, culture, and history. The DiscoverNikkei.org site is a project of the Japanese American National Museum, with major funding by The Nippon Foundation. Visit Discover Nikkei at: DiscoverNikkei.org



Girl Scouts Return to JANM

JANM School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki explains more about the treatment of Hapa children born in Japan after WWII.


We loved having local Girl Scouts come out again for our second annual Girl Scout Patch Program! This year’s program was all about identity, both on the individual and community level. We began the day with a tour of our exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History (closing August 25th!). Lead by our School Programs Developer Lynn Yamasaki, the tour touched on the history of—and challenges faced by—mixed-race and mixed-roots Japanese Americans.

The tour was followed by a great discussion of some of the exhibition themes, like what it means to be Japanese in a rapidly evolving community. In the end, being Japanese  is about more than pure race, the scouts decided. Instead, Japanese American identity today  encompasses widespread cultural elements such as the ability to use chopsticks, a taste for sashimi (admittedly up for debate), and involvement in the community. On a more personal level, the girls discussed the many factors—from geography to heritage—that make up their backgrounds and shape their attitudes and behavior.

Lynn leads a roundtable discussion with the scouts on what it means to be Japanese American today.


After the discussion, we moved on to expressing our identities in a more hands-on way—with the help of some paper doll templates and a vast array of supplies from the education closet! Each girl made a reflection of herself (and one mom joined in with a lovely family portrait), carefully selecting the portrait’s attributes and making each unique, from style of dress to life mottos.

The scouts present their identity self-portraits…in paper doll form!


Photos by Richard Murakami

“kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa” travels to Houston, TX

Our kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa exhibition is now on view at the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston, TX through April 14, 2013.

Organized by the Museum with award-winning filmmaker and artist Kip Fulbeck, the exhibition features portraits of part Asian individuals taken by Kip, along with their handwritten statements in response to the frequently asked question, “What are you?”

The popular exhibition was on display here at JANM from June 8 through October 29, 2006 and has since traveled to New York, NY (2008); Chapel Hill, NC (2009); Chicago, IL (2010); and Portland, OR (2011).

For more information about the Houston presentation, visit Asia Society Texas’ website >>

We’re very excited that it’s going to Houston where it will be on display paired with the Smithsonian’s Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter exhibition which will be coming to JANM in May.