Bring your hankie – Visiting the Japanese American Museum

I was traveling through Little Tokyo when I came across the Japanese American Museum. As it was the third Thursday of the month, they were offering free admission. Free, you say! Why, I believe I will visit your fine establishment.

The museum focuses solely on Japanese Americans, so if you are looking for anything related to geisha’s or ukiyo-e, you’ve come to the wrong place. The exhibition space is rather small, but what is there packs a powerful punch as the history of Japanese Americans from their first immigration 130 years ago through today is presented.

Much of the focus is on the internment camps of World War II, in which Japanese Americans were forced from their homes and incarcerated for most of the war. Now, this is where you will definitely need a hankie. I had to hold back tears as I viewed the artifacts and read the history of this unfortunate period in history. Now, you may wonder why I would recommend a museum that will most likely make you sad, but I feel it is necessary to learn all about our history good and bad. If we never see the bad, we’ll never learn from it.

And I also found that sometimes one can find beauty in sadness. These, by far were my favorite part of the exhibit.

These are Takahashi bird pins that were made by inmates of the Heart Mountain internment camp. They are lovely in this picture and even more beautiful and detailed in person. They alone are worth a visit. Then when you add the additional artifacts and exhibits, the Japanese American Museum is a must see.

So, visit the Japanese American National Museum for a history less you won’t soon forget. You will be glad you went.

Japanese American National Museum 
369 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
free every Thursday 5-8pm, or every 3rd Thursday 12-8

Oh, and lest this be entirely somber, they have an awesome gift shop. Since I didn’t pay any admission, I was able to treat myself to these super cute socks!