FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 30, 2022


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The Japanese American National Museum Receives a Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to Support the Upcoming Exhibition, Cruising J-Town: Nikkei Car Culture in Southern California

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) was awarded $75,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support the upcoming exhibition, Cruising J-Town: Nikkei Car Culture in Southern California. 

This NEH grant will allow JANM to create an exhibition about Nikkei car culture from the early 1900s to the present. Nikkei are Japanese emigrants and their descendants who have created communities throughout the world. The exhibition will also explore how cars and trucks have been both literal and symbolic vehicles of cultural identity, performance, and participation, as well as social integration and mobility within the Southern California Japanese American community. 

Curated by Dr. Oliver Wang of CSU Long Beach, Cruising J-Town: Nikkei Car Culture in Southern California will feature rare photographs and oral histories of multiple generations of Nikkei car enthusiasts, mechanics, journalists, industry figures, and others. The exhibition will feature cars and trucks representing various eras of automobile culture and rare photographs and related ephemera connected to the diverse ways in which this culture has shaped the Nikkei community and vice versa. Also featured will be rare car designs from noted Corvette and Mustang designer Larry Shinoda, whose papers are cataloged at JANM. Both a companion documentary and catalog/book will accompany the exhibition, which will open in 2025. 

“As racers, designers, customizers, and enthusiasts, Japanese Americans have used the automobile to express creativity, build community, and drive innovation, and whose influence and impact transcends beyond the local community to novices and car enthusiasts throughout the world. We are grateful to the NEH for this opportunity to highlight the pivotal contributions that Japanese Americans have made to Southern California car culture since the early 20th century,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO.


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 hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public in 1992, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions onsite while traveling 17 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. For more information, visit or follow us on social media @jamuseum.