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Where EAST meets the Northwest

Original dentist chair of Dr. Kiyofusa Kayama from the 1930s. (AR Photo)

A model of the internment barracks imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent were forced to live in during World War II. (AR Photo)

An interactive search tool that allows museum-goers to look up the specific locations where people were held while incarcerated in internment camps, view layouts and archive photos, and more. (AR Photo)

A rotating display at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon highlights Portlandís Nikkei community. Currently featured are the Naito family, Alice E. Sumida, George Azumano, George Katagiri, and Henry Sakamoto. (AR Photo)

HIGHLIGHTING HISTORY. The Japanese American Museum of Oregon, previously known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, is scheduled to open this month at its new location at the Naito Center in northwest Portland. The new museum is full of history and information for visitors to take in, including the original dentist chair of Dr. Kiyofusa Kayama from the 1930s, a model of the internment barracks imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent were forced to live in during World War II, and an interactive search tool that allows museum-goers to look up the specific locations where people were held while incarcerated in internment camps, view layouts and archive photos, a rotating display that highlights Portlandís Nikkei community, and more. (AR Photos)

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #5 (May 3, 2021), pages 11 & 12.

Japanese American Museum of Oregon to open

at the Naito Center in the Old Town Loft building

The Japanese American Museum of Oregon (JAMO), previously known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, is scheduled to open this month at its new location at the Naito Center in northwest Portland. The move to the new building and subsequent reopening of the museum were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Thursday, May 6 at 5:00pm. The event will be held virtually because of pandemic precautions. The online celebration will feature a sneak peak of the exhibits as well as special guest appearances and performances, including Portland Taiko and multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi. Members of the community who would like to participate should sign up at <https://grandopening.jamo.org>.

May 6 holds significance to Portlandís Japanese-American community because in 1942, Portland declared itself the first major city on the west coast to be "Jap free," as all people of Japanese ancestry had been forcibly removed the day before and were incarcerated in repurposed animal stalls at the Portland Assembly Center.

"Seventy-nine years ago, May 6 marked a very dark chapter in our countryís history," said Lynn Fuchigami Parks, executive director of the museum, "but this year it will be a day of joy as we celebrate perseverance, resiliency, and reclamation in securing a permanent place where lost and hidden stories will be shared and preserved [and] cultural identity is reclaimed and uplifted."

The new museum is full of history and information for visitors to take in. The permanent exhibit, which is presented chronologically, includes artifacts, slideshows, interactive elements, actual items donated by families, books, and more. Several of the displays are new while others are refreshed items seen at the previous location on N.W. Second Avenue.

Some of the featured elements include a photo of the Teikoku Dry Goods Store, which was originally established in 1905; a small model of Nihonmachi (Japantown), which shows the location and name of many of the businesses that existed at the time; the original dentist chair of Dr. Kiyofusa Kayama, whose office was located in the Merchant Hotel on Third Avenue and Davis Street in the 1930s; and a model of the internment barracks imprisoned Americans of Japanese descent were forced to live in during World War II.

A new highlight is the historic jail cell where Minoru Yasui spent nine months in solitary confinement for purposely violating the military curfew imposed on Japanese Americans prior to their forced removal and unjust incarceration during the war. The cell was removed from the Multnomah County Jail and recently relocated to the museum. Also featured is Yasuiís actual Presidential Medal of Freedom that was awarded to him posthumously in 2015.

Another new feature is a search tool by NGX Interactive that allows museum-goers to look up the specific locations where families were imprisoned behind barbed wire in internment camps, view layouts and archive photos, and more.

Near the end of the museumís one-way route is a rotating exhibit that highlights Portlandís Nikkei community. Currently featured are the Naito family, Alice E. Sumida, George Azumano, George Katagiri, and Henry Sakamoto.

Visitors to the new Japanese American Museum of Oregon will learn more about the lives of Portlanders ó during early settlement, World War II, and more. JAMO aims to be a place for people to reflect upon and honor the collective struggle and spirit of not just the Nikkei, but also the immigrant stories of all ó past, present, and future.

In addition to the unveiling of the new museum, in-person visitors will also able to see the museumís latest exhibit, "Grace, Grit & Gaman." Those viewing the museum in person will need to buy timed tickets in advance; the ticketing system is not yet online but will be soon. Face coverings, social distancing, increased cleaning, and other pandemic safety protocols will be strictly followed and enforced.

JAMO is located at the Naito Center, which is located at the base of the Old Town Loft building near the corner of N.W. Fourth Avenue and Flanders Street (411 N.W. Flanders Street, Portland, OR 97209). To learn more, call (503) 224-1458 or visit <www.oregonnikkei.org>.

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