The Japanese American Museum of San Jose, in California showcases permanent and temporary exhibits relating to Japanese American culture and history. The Japanese American Museum of San Jose was established in 1987 as an extension of a research project that studies Japanese American farmers in the region.
This project lasted from 1984-86 and consisted of the collection of histories, photogprahs, memoirs and previously unpublished documents relating to Japanese American history and culture. This research was then used to devise a curriculum for the San Jose Unified and Eastside Union High School education districts in San Jose.
Originally located in the upstairs of the Issei Memorial Building, the museum was first named the Japanese American Resource Center/Museum. The name was changed in 2002 to the current name to encompass the archival focus and mission of the museum. JAMsj is now located in the former home of Dr. Tokio Ishikawa. A grand re-opening occurred in 2010 after extensive remodeling and expansion was completed, making the museum 6,400 square feet with room for educational programming.
The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 12-4pm year-round, with closures on major holiday. Admission fees can be found on the JAMsj website.
All exhibits at the JAMsj reflect and preserve Japanese American history and culture. Many of the artifacts in the collections can be viewed online with detailed histories and articles linked to the exhibits. The museum also hosts temporary and traveling exhibits.
Exquisite Art Under Adverse Conditions from The Japanese American Incarceration Camps: 1942-1945- This exhibit was designed during the extensive remodeling and expansion of the museum and showcases art created by prisoners of Japanese internment camps during World War II. Many of the works are displayed using natural materials found at the camps.
Sharing the Story- Visitors will travel back in time to experience stories of sacrifice and resilience while engaging in the firsthand accounts of Japanese American citizens who were under attack due to the racial tensions caused in World War II.
The Barracks Room- This exhibit features a recreation of the living quarters a family would be held in at Tule Lake camp. The replica was designed by former internment camp construction foreman, Jimi Yamaichi. The artifacts in the exhibit are genuine objects from the camp.
Sports in the Japanese American Community- Japanese sports such as sumo, and various martial arts, as well as Asahi baseball are featured here.
Post World War II: Resettlement-Visitors to this exhibit will learn what it was like for Japanese American families who were reintegrating into the Santa Clara Valley after the release from prison camps.
World War II: Military Intelligence Service (MIS)- Not all Japanese Americans were placed into camps. This exhibit honors the second generation men and women who served in World War II as translators for the MIS.
100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT)- The most decorated unit in the US military history, this battalion was comprised of mostly Japanese Americans in Hawaii and those drafted from the internment camps.
World War II: Assembly Centers and Internment Camps Exhibit-Visitors will be educated on the harsh reality of assembly centers and internment camps where Japanese Americans were held captive during World War II.
Pioneers of San Jose Japantown-Issei’s story is told in this exhibit which highlights the establishing of Japantown in the Santa Clara Valley as a place for Japanese Americans to gather safely.
Agricultural Exhibit - Yesterday's Farmer: Planting an American Dream- Many Japanese American families became farmers and used specialized techniques to produce bontiful harvests and high yields of flowers. This exhibit features the equipment and methodology of these farmers.
JAMsj is dedicated to preserving and educating people on the history and culture of Japanese Americans and offer several tours and programs to enhance this mission.
Outreach Program- Speakers from JAMsj are available to present at schools and community groups, offering an oral history of their life and experiences in internment camps and life after and during the war. This program is available for grades 8-12 only.
JAMsj Library- The museum library is an important resource including print and electronic materials that educators are invited to use in their curriculum. The museum can also provide a curriculum to educators to use in their classrooms.
Docent Led Tours-Tours of the museum and walking tours of Japantown are available through the museum with advance registration. Middle and High school groups are given priority for bookings; however lower grades are also welcome to book tours.
535 North Fifth Street, San Jose, California, 95112, Phone: 408-294-3138