Model of Tule Lake Internment Camp. Photo by M.C.
Model of Tule Lake Internment Camp. Photo by M.C.

Common Ground: The Heart of a Community is an ongoing exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. There is 130 years of Japanese American history from prejudice to concentration camps to Japanese Americans fighting in World War II to show their loyalty.

The Japanese faced prejudice because of people’s ignorance, but it didn’t help that the Chinese came here before them as laborers in the 1800s. The Chinese were eventually pushed out by laws discriminating against them. Only free Caucasians were allowed to naturalize.

Photo by M.C.

The concentration or internment camps used to imprison anyone with Japanese ancestry is a story that hasn’t been talked about enough. From what I understand, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and because of the Ni’ihua Incident, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 to deport all Japanese Americans during World War II. I guess internment camps were considered deportation.

You may have heard George Takei speak about his experience as a child in Los Angeles having his home taken away from him and sent to a camp then another. He also starred in Allegiance a musical that premiered at The Old Globe in San Diego in 2012. I don’t recall being taught about internment camps in school and don’t know where I first heard about them, but Takei and JANM are keeping the stories alive.

Japanese American medals. Photo by M.C.
Japanese American medals. Photo by M.C.

A very nice docent at JANM told me that the Japanese Americans were given a letter that told them to be out of their house in six days and that they could only take a suitcase worth of personal belongings.

It’s a beautiful museum. The suitcases of many Japanese Americans who spent time in a camp are piled up forming a wall. From the second floor, there is an opening that peers over a small library called the Hirasaki National Resource Center where appointments are available to see archives.

Little Tokyo in L.A. Photo by M.C.
Little Tokyo in L.A. Photo by M.C.

The museum is in beautiful Little Tokyo with great Japanese food and stylish clothing shops.

It’s pure coincidence that I publish this now amidst immigration issues. JANM is a great place to stop and reflect to learn from history about past immigrants.

If you go through April you will be able to see the Hello Kitty exhibit. To get more out of the experience visit JANM website to view docents giving mini tours of the museum. General admission for an adult to see Common Ground is $9 and Hello! is $20 for an adult.

Japanese American National Museum, 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90012. Phone (213) 625-0414.

Copyright 2014 Melissa Crismon

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty Fanatic
Hello Kitty Fanatic by Junko Mizuno, 2014, Acrylic on Canvas. Photo by M.C.

Surprisingly, with all this Hello Kitty talk I have not lost all my male followers on Twitter. I have gained a few. I’m not sure what that says about the men.

If you missed the Hello Kitty Convention 2014 there is still plenty of kitty to see.

Hello Kitty takes over half or more of The Japanese American National Museum with a retrospective called Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty. Many artists have created contemporary artworks for this exhibit. On the first floor there are many Hello Kitty items from the archives. Obtain tickets in advance now for the exhibit through Dec. 31, 2014. Tickets for Jan. 2 – Apr. 26, 2015 go on sale Nov. 24, 2014 at JANM.

At the entrance of the archives there is a ten foot sculpture of a cube kitty. Look through the glass wall it stands by and you will see Chado Tea Room which is inside the museum. Through May 31, 2014 Chado Tea Room will celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary with special tea blends, food and high tea service. http://www.chadotea.com.

Hello Kitty Cafe is supposed to open next summer in Orange County. I don’t know where, but I am willing to bet it is going to be in Irvine. The truck will be at the Irvine Spectrum on Nov. 29th. Again, little information is given. Check out Hello Kitty’s Instagram to find the truck.  I believe the cafe is a bakery. I saw donuts at HKCon and the truck had pink and white cute morsels in boxes. Like I said before, it didn’t look edible.

Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival is an interactive musical and lifestyle event for friends of all ages. The venues chosen for SoCal are maybe not the best especially for the price. The VIP Platinum Package is $291 and the Red Bow Package is $152. I hope this event goes smoother than the convention. The tour begins May 2015. HKFestival

You might say, “I don’t get Hello Kitty?” Hello Kitty is art. It’s like what Speed Racer is to you what Hello Kitty is to me. It’s pop culture we grew with created by an artist. If you aren’t into Hello Kitty at least go to the Japanese American National Museum. There is more than Hello Kitty there. The other half is dedicated to Japanese Americans and what they have done for America.

Happy 40th Anniversary Hello Kitty!

Copyright 2014 Melissa Crismon