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Past Exhibition

Textured Lives

Japanese Immigrant Clothing from the Plantations of Hawai`i

Programs are free for museum members and included with admission for visitors, unless otherwise noted.

To see a complete listing of JANM’s upcoming programs, check out our Events Calendar.

February 28 - August 22, 2010

Japanese American National Museum

In 2004 the Japanese American National Museum received for its permanent collection the beautiful and unique plantation-era textiles and clothing from scholar and author, Barbara Kawakami. As a dressmaker and seamstress from Waipahu, Hawai‘i, Kawakami painstakingly began collecting these textiles in the 1970s. Through her intimate conversations with Issei women, Kawakami’s research led her on a captivating journey from the villages of Japan to the plantations of Hawai‘i, and illuminated the complex relationship between old traditions and new plantation culture.

To protect their bodies from the unrelenting sun and sharp sugarcane leaves, some of the Issei women, who had brought with them their knowledge of traditional fabric making and sewing, were forced to refashion their prized kimono into “plantation clothing”—a melding of Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese styles. Others, who had the means to bring other clothing, wrapped and stored their handmade kimono as treasured belongings.

Through Textured Lives, the National Museum is able to celebrate the textiles themselves as a unique part of our history, and also give a voice to the unknown stories that the textiles embody—the innumerable hardships, ingenuity, and adaptability of the early Japanese immigrants to Hawai‘i.

View items from the Barbara Kawakami Collections online.

Watch video clips from an interview with Barbara Kawakami on DiscoverNikkei.org.

Major support for this exhibition is generously provided by: The Hiroaki, Elaine & Lawrence Kono Foundation

Additional support from Aratani Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Nippon Foundation, UCLA Paul I. & Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, and Members and Donors of the Japanese American National Museum.

Past Events

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Lectures & Discussions

May 30, 2010

Picture Brides
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Special Events

May 30, 2010

Exhibition Closing -- EXTENDED TO AUGUST 22
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Workshops & Classes

May 15, 2010

Unique Flowers: Straw Lei Workshop
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Lectures & Discussions

April 24, 2010

Kimono: From Past To Present
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JANM Store Special Events

April 24 - April 25, 2010

Trunk Show: Elegance Repurposed
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Workshops & Classes

March 27, 2010

Shibori Class with Shibori Girl
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Special Events

March 13, 2010

Target Free Family Saturday: Wear This!
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Members Only Special Events

February 27, 2010

Member Preview & Reception

February 28 - August 22, 2010

Japanese American National Museum

In 2004 the Japanese American National Museum received for its permanent collection the beautiful and unique plantation-era textiles and clothing from scholar and author, Barbara Kawakami. As a dressmaker and seamstress from Waipahu, Hawai‘i, Kawakami painstakingly began collecting these textiles in the 1970s. Through her intimate conversations with Issei women, Kawakami’s research led her on a captivating journey from the villages of Japan to the plantations of Hawai‘i, and illuminated the complex relationship between old traditions and new plantation culture.

To protect their bodies from the unrelenting sun and sharp sugarcane leaves, some of the Issei women, who had brought with them their knowledge of traditional fabric making and sewing, were forced to refashion their prized kimono into “plantation clothing”—a melding of Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese styles. Others, who had the means to bring other clothing, wrapped and stored their handmade kimono as treasured belongings.

Through Textured Lives, the National Museum is able to celebrate the textiles themselves as a unique part of our history, and also give a voice to the unknown stories that the textiles embody—the innumerable hardships, ingenuity, and adaptability of the early Japanese immigrants to Hawai‘i.

View items from the Barbara Kawakami Collections online.

Watch video clips from an interview with Barbara Kawakami on DiscoverNikkei.org.

Major support for this exhibition is generously provided by: The Hiroaki, Elaine & Lawrence Kono Foundation

Additional support from Aratani Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Nippon Foundation, UCLA Paul I. & Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, and Members and Donors of the Japanese American National Museum.

Support the understanding and appreciation of the Japanese American experience.

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