JAMsj E-News
Japanese American Museum of San Jose
July 2013
In This Issue
JA Studies Presentations
Nisei Soldiers Film Series
Meet the Author: Tom Graves
Craft Class - Pyramid Star Box
Defining Hapa by Jessica Tokiwa Savage
Calendar of Events
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Reminder:  Book Club
July 6, 2013

 by Eileen Sunada Sarasohn




Oregon Nikkei Legacy Project    


Gil Asakawa wrote this blog about the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Project after a recent visit.


He mentions us at the end:  

"The Japanese American Museum of San Jose is in a wonderful small (but larger than Portland's) new building that is a perfect complement to the city's small but intact Japantown neighborhood. It also preserves the history of the area's JA community, and tells the story of local residents' dark years in camps."  


And ends with:

 "Visit any of these places and thank the volunteers and marvel at the commitment of the executive directors and staff who keep them running in these tough economic times. They do it because they know how important it is."  





Museum Closed for Holiday
JAMsj will be closed for
4th Of July-Eagle/Flag Facebook Cover
4th of July 
JA Studies Presentations
Emerging Research in Japanese American Studies

Saturday, July 13, 2013
11:00 a.m.

Japanese American Museum San Jose  

535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose,
CA  95112


For decades, the concentration camp experience has been the focal point of Japanese American history. However, this rich history encompasses far more than just the WWII years. JAMsj will host three young scholars to share their groundbreaking research that stretches the boundaries of Japanese American studies.  

Dean Adachi 

Dean Adachi, a PhD candidate in history at Claremont University, will discuss the often overlooked role of Christianity in the earliest Japanese communities in Northern California and Hawaii. Adachi will highlight the transnational connections that link these Japanese American Christian communities.
Jeffery Yamashita



Jeffrey Yamashita, a PhD student in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, will be presenting "The Most Honorable Sons: Framing Heroic Masculinities in the Japanese American Community." Yamashita will share the story of Nisei war hero Sergeant Ben Kuroki. Specifically, he will explore Kuroki's masculinity and how it
served as a foundation for the 100th/442nd RCT. 


Jane Yamashiro

 Dr. Jane Yamashiro is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Southern California. Jane's presentation examines Japanese Americans in Japan to illuminate how "Japanese American" -- an ethnic minority identity in the U.S. -- is reconstructed in Japan. She will demonstrate how interactions with Japanese in Japan shape how Japanese Americans understand their own racial and national identities.


The presenters are excited to share their work publicly with the JAMsj community and look forward to starting a new public conversation on Japanese American studies.


Cost: Free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free).


Please email PublicPrograms@JAMsj.org or call the JAMsj office at (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot.

Nisei Soldiers Film Series

Japanese American Museum San Jose  

535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose, CA  95112

In celebration of the Congressional Gold Medal's tour stop in the Bay Area (June 29 to August 4, de Young Museum), JAMsj is pleased to present a film series honoring our Nisei soldiersThe series continues in July with three more films.  



Poster art image used by permission of Lucy Ostrander
Cover art image used by permission of Sharon Yamato




A Flicker in Eternity 
Honor & Sacrifice


Saturday, July 20, 2013

1:00 p.m.


A Flicker in Eternity is the coming-of-age tale of Stanley Hayami, a talented young teenager caught between his dream of becoming a writer/artist and duty to his country. Based on Hayami's own diary, this documentary is the firsthand account of a 15-year-old thrust into the turmoil of WWII and is a poignant reminder of the indignity of incarceration and the tragedy of war. Through Hayami's endearing cartoons and witty observations, this film chronicles his life behind barbed wire and as a soldier in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It is based on his diary and letters, which are archived at the Japanese American National Museum, and Joanne Oppenheim's book, Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son.

Honor & Sacrifice is the story of one man's journey from early hardship  to a concentration camp and ultimately to the stature of authentic American hero. This story is based on Roy Matsumoto's nearly unbelievable contribution as a member of Merrill's Marauders. Matsumoto was a man of extraordinary strength, stamina, wit, and courage, as this story demonstrates. But in most respects he was also a typical member of the Japanese American community he grew up in, showing the qualities of determination, loyalty, and acceptance of sacrifice throughout his life and military service years. These same qualities define the honorable place in US history occupied by Japanese Americans of the 20th century.


The films will be followed by Q&A with filmmaker Ann Kaneko and Nisei veterans Lawson Sakai and Kats Hikido.

Ann Kaneko
Ann Kaneko
is a Los Angeles-based independent filmmaker, who has produced
numerous award-winning shorts and documentaries, including Against the Grain: An Artist's Guide to Peru and Overstay. She has also been commissioned to create media installations for the Skirball Cultural Center, Japanese American National Museum, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Getty Center. 
Lawson Sakai

Photo courtesy of Tom Graves

Lawson Sakai is the founder of the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans.  He joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT) in March 1943, after being denied enlistment two years earlier because of his Japanese ancestry. He received four Purple Heart Medals and a Bronze Star Medal, having participated in all major campaigns of the 442nd RCT, including the liberation of Bruyeres, France; rescue of the "Lost Battalion," France; and breaking of the Gothic Line, Italy. 
Katsumi (Kats) Hikido


Katsumi (Kats) Hikido
joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT) while he and his family were incarcerated at the Gila River WRA camp. While serving in Europe, he was injured in both legs by a land mine. As a result, he nearly died and spent 2 years in an Army hospital before recovering enough to walk again.    




MIS: Human Secret Weapon


Sunday, July 28, 2013

1:00 p.m.


This film explores an untold chapter in Japanese American history and encourages the audience to think about the values of peace. It describes how the MIS contributed to both America's victory and to Japan's recovery after WWII ended. This film is the third and final installment of Junichi Suzuki's trilogy centered on Japanese American participation during the war. Previous films include Toyo's Camera in 2008 and 442 in 2010.  For more information, see the MIS website



Cost: Each film screening is free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free). 


Please email PublicPrograms@JAMsj.org or call the JAMsj office at (408) 294-3138 to reserve your spot.    


Meet the Author
Tom Graves
author of
Twice Heroes: American's Nisei Veterans
of WWII and Korea

Cover art image courtesy of Tom Graves

Saturday, August 3, 2013
1:00 p.m.

Japanese American Museum San Jose  
535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose, CA  95112

At first denigrated and mistrusted, America's Nisei veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, earned the praise of a nation, and ultimately, a Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor.


Author and photographer Tom Graves shares the lives of Japanese American veterans before, during, and after WWII. Graves spent a decade collecting the veterans' stories. During this period, he spent thousands of hours interviewing scores of veterans around the country and then translated the results into individual stories of the human spirit. InTwice Heroes, each black-and-white portrait (there are 98 in the oversize book) introduces us to a veteran. The corresponding interview reveals a story of growing up in a racist America, fighting for the same country against foreign enemies as young men at war, and looking back as old men with the wisdom of their years.

What readers are saying about Twice Heroes: America's Nisei Veterans of WWII and Korea:

"This book adds an important chapter to the history of the World War II era in which some proud Americans suffered discrimination and internment simply because of their Japanese ancestry.  ...The interviews Tom Graves has compiled go a long way to help us understand how wartime hysteria can make governments make poor decisions."   - Lt. Gen. Lawrence Snowden, USMC retired  


"Tom Graves' work adds a rich dimension to an extraordinary story -- that of the Nisei veteran in WWII and Korea. Through his portraits and their words, he provides memorable insights into the Nisei record and legacy of loyalty and courage. A worthy tribute to these remarkable men."

- Gen. David A. Bramlett,  U.S. Army retired  

"The physical beauty of the photos and your gentle but powerful narratives touched me deeply. Knowing so many of the guys and knowing that some like Mr. Asai have passed away made the experience difficult. But becoming emotional is evidence that you did your job well. Thank you so much for documenting their stories, their American stories, into this incredible and beautiful book.
"  - Ellen Sawamura, National Japanese American Historical Society


"Tom Graves' interviews of the Nisei reveal their patriotism, honor, and pride as a people. Vividly honest and deeply moving."  - VFW Commander-in-Chief Rich DeNoyer, 2011-12

"Wow, to say it's a great book is not doing it justice. It truly is a keepsake for all generations."

- Susan Uyemura, CEO, president, and oral historian, Japanese American Living Legacy 

Author Tom Graves  


Tom Graves is a member of the JACL, the USMC Combat Correspondents Association, and the USS San Francisco CA-38 Memorial Foundation, as well as being on the board of directors of the 99th Infantry Battalion Educational Foundation. His book Twice Heroes is available at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose (www.jamsj.org), and at www.TwiceHeroes.com.

Cost: Free with admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free). 
Contact PublicPrograms@jamsj.org or call (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot.
Craft Class

Pyramid Star Box
with guest instructor, Vicky Mihara-Avery

Sunday, August 11, 2013
1:00 p.m.


Japanese American Museum San Jose  
535 N. Fifth Street
San Jose, CA  95112
Vicky Mihara-Avery 
Popular paper crafts expert Vicky Mihara-Avery returns to JAMsj for a hands-on, box-making class. When closed, it is a wonderful pyramid box.  When open, it transforms into a four-point star ornament!  Students will learn box-making techniques to wrap cardboard triangles with beautiful paper and hinge them to a square bottom. Ribbons are then attached to tie the points together to make the pyramid box.


This program will also include a trunk show featuring products from Mihara-Avery's online store, PaperFestival.com, including papers that work well with the techniques taught in this class. For more information about the products, visit her website at http://www.paperfestival.com.



Vicky Mihara-Avery is the third generation in her family to promote and share the experience of Japanese paper crafts. She recently made guest appearances on Martha Stewart, the Carol Duvall Show, and Good Morning America. She has also been an invited lecturer and instructor at museums, festivals, and origami conferences around the country.

Closed, the pyramid box can be used as a unique container for a small gift. 
Photo courtesy of Vicky Mihara-Avery 
Pyramid box opens into a four-point star.

Photo courtesy of Vicky Mihara-Avery

Cost: $10 class fee plus admission to the museum (non-members, $5; students and seniors over age 65, $3; JAMsj members and children under 12, free).

Class fee is reduced to $5 for members who are active volunteers at the museum. An additional $3 materials fee (cash only) will be collected at the beginning of class. 

RSVP early (20 students max). Please contact PublicPrograms@jamsj.org or call (408) 294-3138 to reserve a spot. 

On Being Hapa

Defining Hapa


By Jessica Tokiwa Savage


Jessica Tokiwa Savage

What does it mean to be "hapa?" Now I've asked myself that question quite a bit. Growing up in California, specifically in San Jose's Japantown it's a term I've heard my whole life, and as I got older I even used it to identify myself. Its origins come from Hawaii and in the Hawaiian dictionary its definition is as follows: "of mixed blood, person of mixed blood as in hapa Hawaii, part Hawaiian." Whenever I'm asked, "What are you?" I usually respond "hapa." The usual response is "What?" unless I'm in Hawaii of course and I usually stare back in shock, because they don't know that word. So I then explain I'm half white and half Japanese and it comes from the Hawaiian word "hapa haole" which loosely means part white.


Now being mixed race has never been a disadvantage for me or had a negative impact on my life thus far. It's actually put me in this highly desired category because I am considered exotic. Especially, in television it has been a huge advantage for me. I feel because I am half and half it caters to different audiences and shows I come from a diverse background. I've summed it up to "getting the best of both worlds." Even when it comes to job or college applications many mixed race people will put down the side that will give them an advantage. For example if they are half Asian and half White they'll mark the Asian box to give them a better chance of getting in.  I know it varies by generation but I've never felt left out or not accepted by my peers because I'm not full white or full Japanese. I was lucky because being a part of the Japanese American community there was always at least one, if not more mixed race people.  


Growing up I didn't really identify myself by race nor ethnicity but as I got older I started to research my heritage and racial makeup. During college, I explored this topic of being hapa in America. I was surprised to learn the lack of research and resources there were, especially  since it's an identity quickly emerging in the United States. Even our President is hapa, but he's viewed as African American. It brings us to the questions "How do we identify this new breed of mixed race people?" and "How do they identify themselves?" I would say I'm Jessica and being hapa is just a small piece of who I am. I want to be defined by what I do rather than by what I am.


Calendar of Events

July 6, 2013:  Book Club -  Issei Women:  Echoes from Another Frontier
July 13, 2013:  Emerging Research in Japanese American Studies
July 20, 2013:  Nisei Soldiers Film Series:  A Flicker in Eternity and Honor & Sacrifice 
July 28, 2013:  Nisei Soldiers Film Series:  MIS -- Human Secret Weapon
August 3, 2013:  Meet the Author: Tom Graves
August 11, 2013Craft Class: Pyramid Star Box

For more information about our public programs, please contact PublicPrograms@JAMsj.org

  JAMsj logo

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