FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 12, 2023


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JANM and LTHS Unveils New Plaque on JANM’s Historic Building in Honor of Its 100th Anniversary

LOS ANGELES, CA – On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) and Little Tokyo Historical Society (LTHS) unveiled a plaque and new street signs marking the significance of JANM’s Historic Building and its City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument designation in advance of its upcoming 100th anniversary.

The Historic Building was designed by local architect Edgar Cline and built in 1925 as the Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist temple. In 1985, the newly incorporated JANM signed a fifty-year lease with the City of Los Angeles to renovate the temple and convert it into a museum. The renovation was conceived by a consortium of eight Japanese American architects: Marcia Chiono, David Kikuchi, Shigeru Masumoto, Yoshio Nishimoto, Frank Sata, Takashi Shida, George Shinmo, and Robert Uyeda. In 1986 it was designated as City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument 313. In 1992 JANM opened its doors to the public with 23,800 square feet of space for exhibitions, collections, and public programs.

Kristen Hayashi, director of Collections Management and Access and curator at JANM, welcomed the group and introduced Michael Okamura, president of LTHS, who spoke about its many projects and ongoing work to raise the visibility of historic sites throughout Little Tokyo. Rev. William Briones of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple discussed the important role the site played in the spiritual and social life of the community. Okamura and Briones then unveiled the new signs on 1st Street that now mark the historic site.

JANM’s Historic Building is our oldest and largest artifact on our campus. It is hallowed ground, a site of conscience, and a gathering place for civic engagement and social justice. The plaque and street signs not only commemorate the Historic Building’s history in the Japanese American community but also expands the public’s understanding of its significance to the history of Los Angeles and the US. Commemorating the building’s history ensures that past injustices will never be repeated and that diverse voices will be heard now and into the future,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM.

Ken Bernstein, Principal City Planner and Manager, City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, lauded the new signage for raising the visibility of the historic site in Little Tokyo. “Our historic buildings anchor us in an ever-changing city,” he said. “They really provide a meaningful connection to our collective memory.”

The speakers were then joined by actor and activist George Takei, longtime Board member and Board Chair Emeritus at JANM, to unveil the plaque now installed at the building’s historic entrance, followed by a song performed by children from the Nishi daycare center.


About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a center for civil rights, ensuring that the hard-fought lessons of the World War II incarceration are not forgotten. A Smithsonian Affiliate and one of America’s Cultural Treasures, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories. JANM is a center for the arts as well as history. It provides a voice for Japanese Americans and a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 100 exhibitions onsite while traveling 40 exhibits to venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and to several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America. JANM is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday–Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and
on Thursday from 12 p.m.–8 p.m. JANM is free every third Thursday of the month. On all other Thursdays, JANM is free from 5 p.m.–8 p.m. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @jamuseum.