Black and white Iwata image of early JANM building in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

PROJECT TEAM—2024 NEH Landmarks Little Tokyo Workshop

Little Tokyo: How History Shapes a Community Across Generations

An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture workshop for teachers

Los Angeles, CA

June 24–28 and July 15–19, 2024


Lynn Yamasaki

Lynn Yamasaki

Lynn Yamasaki is the Director of Education at the Japanese American National Museum and Co-Project Director for Little Tokyo: How History Shapes a Community Across Generations. Previously she was Project Director for JANM’s 2022 NEH Landmarks of American History program. She has been with JANM since 2007 and works on developing and implementing student experiences and educational resources for educators and families in support of museum content and exhibitions. Prior to joining JANM she worked in education and programs at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Lynn holds a BA from Loyola Marymount University in Art History and Studio Art.

sohayla pagano

Sohayla Pagano

Sohayla Pagano is the Manager of Youth and Teacher Programs at the Japanese American National Museum and Co-Project Director for Little Tokyo: How History Shapes a Community Across Generations. Her work includes developing educational experiences and resources for students and educators and overseeing training and coaching for JANM’s museum educators and volunteer docents and facilitators. Sohayla holds a master’s degree in Art Education with a specialization in Museum Education and Administration from The Ohio State University and bachelor’s degrees in Art History and Architecture from Penn State University.

emily anderson

Emily Anderson, PhD

Emily Anderson, PhD, is a curator at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). She is the author of Christianity in Modern Japan: Empire for God (Bloomsbury, 2014) and the editor of Belief and Practice in Imperial Japan and Colonial Korea (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017) as well as articles and book chapters on religion and imperialism in Japan and the Pacific. She has worked on several JANM exhibitions, including the core exhibition Common Ground: The Heart of Community and Sutra and Bible: Faith and Japanese American World War II Incarceration.

erin aoyama

Erin Aoyama

Erin Aoyama grew up in New England and is currently based in Providence, RI. She joined the JANM staff in May 2021. She received a B.A. in History & Literature from Harvard College, where her senior thesis was titled “Separate and Unequal: The Impact of Jim Crow on Japanese American Internment and Postwar Identity.” She holds an MA in Public Humanities and is currently a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Brown University. As an educator and historian, in addition to studying the afterlives of Japanese American incarceration and the redress movement, Ms. Aoyama’s work focuses on Japanese Americans outside of the West Coast—in the South, New England, and New York—and intersections between Japanese American histories and the Black freedom struggle.

kristen hayashi

Kristen Hayashi, PhD

Kristen Hayashi, PhD, is the Director of Collections Management and Access and Curator at JANM, where she oversees the permanent collection. With a PhD in History from the University of California, Riverside, she engages in the study of Public History, Asian American Studies, and the history of Los Angeles. Dr. Hayashi will use artifacts from JANM’s collections to explore the various aspects of the return of Japanese Americans to Los Angeles after World War II. Resettlement in different parts of the country offered unique issues, but Los Angeles provides a good snapshot of the post-war experience as a whole. Most recently, Dr. Hayashi curated JANM’s exhibition Miné Okubo’s Masterpiece: The Art of Citizen 13660.

karen ishizuka

Karen Ishizuka, PhD

Karen Ishizuka, PhD, is the Chief Curator at JANM. She is a scholar and author specializing in Japanese American and Asian Pacific Island history and culture. Dr. Ishizuka co-founded the Watase Media Arts center at JANM and served as its first director. She curated JANM’s influential America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Experience exhibition, established the museum’s photographic and moving image archive, and wrote and produced Toyo Miyatake: infinite Shades of Gray, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival. Her latest book Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Sixties (2016), tells the little known history of Asian American consciousness as a political identity. Dr. Ishizuka will discuss the post-war community building as she shares the people, places, organizations, and campaigns that formed Asian Pacific American consciousness and identity. She is currently working on a new core exhibition for JANM.


june berk

June Aochi Berk

June Aochi Berk was 10 years old in 1942 when her family was evicted from their home in Hollywood, California and sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center before being incarcerated at Rohwer Concentration Camp in Arkansas. After the camp closed, her family moved to Denver Colorado and then returned home to Los Angeles in 1953. Berk has worked as secretary to Minoru Yasui, one of the four lawyers who fought the legality of the Exclusion Order up to the Supreme Court, and she also worked at JANM until she retired in 2001, when she became a volunteer. In addition to volunteering at JANM, she serves as a Board Member on the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition. Berk will share her first-person experiences which include participating in Japanese Ondo dancing in Little Tokyo as a student of Fujima Kansuma.

kristin fukushima

Kristin Fukushima—Little Tokyo Community Council

Kristin Fukushima is the Managing Director of the Little Tokyo Community Council—the nonprofit community coalition of businesses, residents, nonprofits, and other vested stakeholders, representing the interests of the Little Tokyo community.  She previously served as the Project Manager for Sustainable Little Tokyo (SLT), and continues to help lead SLT in its mission to sustain Little Tokyo for future generations. Kristin has also served as the Public Policy Coordinator for the Pacific Southwest District of the Japanese American Citizens League and as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies at the Claremont Colleges. She is a co-founder of Kizuna, a Japanese American youth development and empowerment organization, and is active with Nikkei Progressives and other Little Tokyo, Japanese American, and Asian American organizations and spaces in Los Angeles. Kristin received her Masters of Public Administration concentrating on Non-Profit Management from California State University at Northridge, and her Bachelors degree from Pomona College.

hillary jenks

Hillary Jenks, PhD

Hillary Jenks, PhD is the former Director of GradSuccess at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Jenks holds a PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. Her dissertation, entitled “Home is Little Tokyo: Race, Community, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles,” examined the recurring dynamic of displacement and community reclamation and reinvention in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. Dr. Jenks will discuss the Bronzeville period, and how African American history and culture impacted the physical and symbolic landscape of the neighborhood. Dr. Jenks has presented and published on Bronzeville and is considered a scholar of this lesser-known period in the city’s history.

mitchell maki

Mitchell T. Maki, PhD

Mitchell T. Maki, PhD, is president and CEO of Go For Broke National Education Center, where he has served in that role since 2016. Dr. Maki spent more than 25 years in higher education and is considered an expert on the post-war redress movement. He will speak about how Japanese Americans successfully obtained an apology and monetary reparations after incarceration with the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. He is the lead author of the award-winning book Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress (University of Illinois Press).  

kathy matsuoka


Kathy Masaoka was born and raised in multicultural Boyle Heights and came of age during the late ’60s when Vietnam War and Asian American Studies at UC Berkeley. These experiences shaped her values and direction. Since 1971, she has worked on issues related to youth, workers, housing in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and redress for Japanese Americans. Currently Co-chair of the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, she served on the Editorial Team for the book, NCRR: The Grassroots Struggle for Japanese American Redress and Reparations, helped to educate the American public about the camps through the film/curriculum, Stand Up for Justice and was part of the NCRR 9/11 Committee which worked to build relationships with the American Muslim community after 9/11.

Kathy was honored to represent NCRR in Japan to support the rights of Koreans and other minorities in 1988 and is currently involved with NCRR, Nikkei Progressives, Vigilant Love, and the Sustainable Little Tokyo project. She continues to work on reparations for Comfort Women who were used as sexual slaves during WWII by the Japanese military and through the Nikkei Progressives/NCRR Reparations Committee she is able to help build solidarity in support of long overdue reparations for African Americans and much needed structural changes. Retired from teaching at an LAUSD continuation high school in 2011, she lives in Los Angeles (Tongva land) with Mark Masaoka. They have a daughter Mayumi and son Dan and grandsons, Yuma and Leo.

mike murase

mike murase

Mike Murase is a member of Nikkei Progressives, a grassroots social justice group based in Little Tokyo. He recently retired from Little Tokyo Service Center where he was the Director of Service Programs and also led the team that built Terasaki Budokan, a community and sports center. Mike was born in Japan and came to this country at age nine in the postwar resettlement years. His enduring identity and interests were shaped by life in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles—a working-class neighborhood of African Americans and Japanese Americans. As a “child of the Sixties,” Mike was influenced by the Black civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. As an undergraduate at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), he was a co-founder of the Asian American Studies Center and later taught ethnic studies at UCLA, University of Southern California, and California State University at Long Beach. He co-founded GIDRA (an Asian American Movement publication), and later, Little Tokyo Service Center. He was the founder of Asian Americans for Peace and the coordinator of the multiracial L.A.Free South Africa Movement. Besides his involvement in the Japanese American community, he was an organizer in South Central Los Angeles for over two decades.

michael okamura

Michael Okamura

Michael Okamura is a longtime JANM volunteer and the president of the Little Tokyo Historical Society. He identifies as a Nikkei yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American) and has Southern California roots that go back to the early 1900s. He volunteers with organizations in Little Tokyo, Montebello, and at the University of Southern California. Okamura studied at Waseda University’s International Division and spent some years living in Tokyo. He also volunteers for faith-based organizations in the Tohoku region in Japan. He very recently retired after a long and meaningful career in banking. He is contributing as an advisor for this Landmarks project and will share his deep knowledge about the history of Little Tokyo.

facing history & ourselves logo


Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Their classroom resources and professional development offerings examine racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history and in our world today.

In classrooms across the country and around the world, more than 400,000 educators are using their approach and materials to help students learn about the impact of choices made in the past, and connect them to the choices they will confront in their own lives. Facing our shared history and how it informs our attitudes and behaviors allows us to build a world of equity and justice. 

Little Tokyo Historical Society logo

Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS)

Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) was formed in 2006 by members of the Little Tokyo community to commemorate Japanese American and Japanese history and heritage through various means, including archival collections, photos, exhibits, lectures, and workshops. LTHS concentrates on the history of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, rather than the larger scope of Japanese Americans nationwide. LTHS will offer expertise to this project with an in-depth walking tour of the community.

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JANM logo      National Endowment for the Humanities sponsor logo


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