Japanese American National Museum

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Japanese American National Museum
Japanese American National Museum.jpg
Museum at First Street
Established 1992
Location Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California
Type History and culture of Japanese Americans
Public transit access LAMetroLogo.svg Little Tokyo/Arts District
Website www.janm.org
First home of the Japanese American National Museum at First and Central

The Japanese American National Museum (全米日系人博物館 Zenbei Nikkeijin Hakubutsukan?) is a museum dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Japanese Americans. It is located in the Little Tokyo area near downtown Los Angeles, California. The museum is an affiliate within the Smithsonian Affiliations program.[1]

The museum contains over 130 years of Japanese American history, dating back to the first Issei generation. It houses a moving image archive, which contains over 100,000 feet (30,000 m) of 16 mm and 8 mm home movies of Japanese Americans from the 1920s to the 1950s. It also contains artifacts, textiles, art, photographs, and oral histories of Japanese Americans.


The idea for the museum was originally thought up by Bruce Kaji with help from other notable Japanese American people at the time. When it first opened in 1992, the museum was housed in the 1925 historic Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple building. Then in January 1999, the National Museum opened its current 85,000-square-foot (7,900 m2) Pavilion to the public.[2] The temple building, used in 1942 to process Japanese and Japanese-Americans for wartime internment camps, is now used for offices and storage.[citation needed]

In 1993 the museum was given hundreds of artifacts and letters from children in internment camps which they had sent to San Diego librarian Clara Breed. The material was featured in an exhibit, "Dear Miss Breed: Letters from camp" and became part of the museum's permanent collection.[3]

In 1997, the Frank H. Watase Media Arts Center was established by Robert A. Nakamura and Karen L. Ishizuka, to develop new ways to document, preserve and make known the experience of Americans of Japanese Ancestry. In 1999, the Manabi and Sumi Hirasaki National Resource Center (HNRC) was established to provide access to the museum's information and resources, both at the facility and online, and documents both the life and culture of the Japanese Americans.

Actor George Takei serves as a member of its board of trustees and represented it as his charity during his time on The Celebrity Apprentice.[4]


The museum currently has: Common Ground: The Heart of Community, which focuses on early immigration into the United States to the present day by presenting various art, artifacts and media. Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo is on exhibit from July 9 through October 30, 2011.

Previous exhibits[edit]

June 15, 2008 – September 7, 2008: Living Flowers: Ikebana and Contemporary Art, which detailed the Japanese tradition of flower arrangement, ikebana, while displaying a contemporary expression.

July 12, 2008 – August 3, 2008: Glorious Excess (Born). This exhibition presented Mike Shinoda's paintings and artwork. It ends on August 3, 2008 and is presented in two parts.

Major projects[edit]

Discover Nikkei A multilingual, online resource that presents the global Nikkei experience through first-person narratives, historic photos and research, and opportunities for user engagement.

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Japanese American National Museum". Affiliate detail. Smithsonian Affiliations. 2007. Retrieved 17 Jul 2011. 
  2. ^ Patt Morrison, Cecilia Rasmussen, Angels Walk – Union Station, El Pueblo, Little Tokyo, Civic Center, Angels Walk LA, Inc., 2000
  3. ^ "Dear Miss Breed: Letters from camp". Japanese American National Museum. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "A Day in Gay America". Advocate. November 2011. p. 25. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°2′58.7″N 118°14′18.9″W / 34.049639°N 118.238583°W / 34.049639; -118.238583