JAMsj E-News
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
December 2012
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JAMsj Book Club
Lost Words
Calendar of Events
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Holiday Sale


Purchases over $30 in the Museum Store will receive a free gift.

Promotion good until December 24, 2012



Sale on Christmas Items


Join us for our end of the year sale starting on December 27, 2012. 


For details, visit/call JAMsj Museum Store
(408) 294-3134



JAMsj volunteers
Consider becoming a JAMsj volunteer by checking out our volunteer opportunities.

JAMsj Book Club


Samurai Among Panthers:

Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and
a Paradoxical Life

By Diane Fujino
January 5, 2013 
1:00 p.m.
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose, CA  95112

An iconic figure of the Asian American movement, Richard Aoki (1938-2009) was also, as the most prominent non-Black member of the Black Panther Party, a key architect of Afro-Asian solidarity in the 1960s and '70s. His life story exposes the personal side of political activism as it illuminates the history of ethnic nationalism and radical internationalism in America.


A reflection of this interconnection, Samurai among Panthers weaves together two narratives: Aoki's dramatic first-person chronicle and an interpretive history by a leading scholar of the Asian American movement, Diane C. Fujino. Aoki's candid account of himself takes us from his early years in Japanese American internment camps to his political education on the streets of Oakland, to his emergence in the Black Panther Party. As his story unfolds, we see how his parents' separation inside the camps and his father's illegal activities shaped the development of Aoki's politics. Fujino situates his life within the context of twentieth-century history-World War II, the Cold War, and the protests of the 1960s. She demonstrates how activism is both an accidental and an intentional endeavor and how a militant activist practice can also promote participatory democracy and social service.


The result of these parallel voices and analysis in Samurai among Panthers is a complex-and sometimes contradictory-portrait of a singularly extraordinary activist and an expansion and deepening of our understanding of the history he lived.


The JAMsj Book Club is always open to new members. Selections are chosen collaboratively at the end of each meeting and align with the JAMsj mission: the celebration of Japanese American art, history, and culture. Books may be purchased at the JAMsj museum store. If you have questions, please contact Aggie Idemoto at (408) 268-4440 or aggie@jamsj.org.

Lost Words

The following year-end essay is written by Will Kaku, a JAMsj board member and an organizer for the  San Jose Day of Remembrance program.


Lost Words   


By Will Kaku



It has been said by many that writing letters is a lost art form. People under the age of 35 or so may have never experienced the sentimental emotions of discovering that dusty old shoebox full of beautifully crafted letters that convey love, joy, sorrow, and introspection.   The grief-stricken letter with tear-stained handwriting or the scented love letter expressing longing and passion cannot compare to a laboriously long email thread or be reduced to a 140-character tweet with an embedded emoticon.  


Itsuyo Kaku Hori at Heart Mountain
My aunt, Itsuyo Kaku Hori, at Heart Mountain 


I recently had a remarkable shoebox moment when I came across several wartime letters written by my aunt, Itsuyo Kaku Hori (or "Aunt Its" as we called her) while she was incarcerated in the Santa Anita Assembly Center and the concentration camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming .  The letters were unknown to me until UC Davis professor Cecilia Tsu visited JAMsj and, by chance, informed me that she had discovered the letters when she was performing research at the History San Jose archives.  The letters were sent to Elizabeth Wade, who was the friendly and caring landlord of the San Jose property where my aunt and her family farmed before the war.


Those personal letters, as well as other wartime correspondence and documentation that I have collected, challenge us with the concept of what it really means to be an American. The letters also dramatically reveal a tumultuous period that propelled my young aunt into an incredible emotional journey and a great personal transformation.  Read More...  


Local artist, Jack Matsuoka, sketched memories of the heated arguments that raged within the camp over the "loyalty questionnaire."  My family remembered similar tense moments. Matsuoka's artwork is on display at JAMsj.



Persons of Japanese ancestry arrive at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. Courtesy of NARA

Calendar of Events

January 5, 2013: JAMsj Book Club

January 26, 2013: Presentation by CyArk on camp digital reconstruction.  Details of the event at JAMsj will be announced in the next issue of the JAMsj E-News

January 30, 2013: Fred Korematsu Day

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Japanese American Museum of San Jose (JAMsj)
535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Tel: (408) 294-3138
Email: mail@jamsj.org