Japanese American National Museum

Japanese American National Museum, located in Los Angeles, California, is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Discover Nikkei is a project of the National Museum.

Updated May 2007 

community en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

A Trunk Full of Stories:  The Shogo Myaida Collection

In 1990, two years before the Japanese American National Museum opened to the public, curator Brian Niiya looked through a shabby old trunk in Albertson, New York. An elderly Japanese American gentleman and his wife had recently died. Neighbor and family friend Gloria Massimo had preserved the trunk full of letters, papers, class notes, printed materials about landscaping, and thousands of photographs. Urged by Museum charter member Lily Kiyasu, who had met and interviewed Shogo Myaida and his wife Grace, Ms. Massimo contacted the Museum’s collection department and eventually donated the trunk full of history to us.

Collection manager ...

Read more

community en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

An Unusual Childhood - A Profile of Suki Terada Ports

Suki Setsuko Terada Ports is an outspoken woman with an infectious laugh and a straightforward manner. She is well known in New York as a dedicated and tireless activist. Ports has devoted much of her life to community service. In recent years most of her time has been spent helping to create AIDS projects, including one serving New York City’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Suki calls her childhood “unusual.” Her father, Yoshio Albert Terada, grew up in Hawai‘i, where his parents worked on a sugar cane plantation on Maui and then moved to Honolulu. “He was like ...

Read more

community en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

Community Activism A Family Tradition - Profile of Umeko Kawamoto

Umeko Kawamoto is a bright-eyed woman with a radiant smile who enjoys reminiscing about San Diego’s thriving Japanese American community in the years before World War II. She recalls the prewar Japantown, in what is now downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, as a bustling neighborhood that included grocery stores, restaurants, pool halls, dry goods stores, and hotels. The neighborhood, like Japanese districts all up and down the west coast, was emptied of its residents during World War II and never regained its prewar character.

Kawamoto’s father, Yoshigoro Mamiya, was a Japanese immigrant from Nagasaki, who was a cook in ...

Read more

community en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

There Wasn’t Anything to Be Afraid of In Those Days – Profile of Aiko Owashi

Aiko Owashi, like so many Nisei women, begins an interview with the claim that her life is not interesting; nothing much ever happened to her. She acknowledges that her family is “deeply rooted” in San Diego, and soon is telling stories that illuminate a remarkable history.

Owashi’s father, Toraichi Ozaki, came from Wakayama to San Diego at about the turn of the last century. He was, Owashi notes proudly, a charter member of the Ocean View United Church of Christ (founded in 1907). “He tried out fishing,” she remembers, “but that wasn’t his thing.” He later worked at ...

Read more

community en

Japanese American National Museum Magazine

He Kept the Boat Alive – Profile by Harold Ikemura

Harold Ikemura loves to tell stories about his years in the fishing fleet. At 83, he recalls with astonishing detail the particulars of his long life and of his years at sea. “I love fishing,” he says with delight.

As a teenager, Ikemura went trout fishing along the San Gabriel River with the sons of a prominent Pasadena Japanese American family. Dr. Takejiro Itow, one of the founders of the Japanese hospital in Los Angeles, also had a daughter, Sumi, she eventually became Ikemura’s wife.

Ikemura, who was born in Riverside and grew up in Hollywood, California, didn’t ...

Read more