411 NW Flanders St.
Starting June 18: Open to the general public by reservation only
About the Japanese American Museum of Oregon
On January 1, 2020, Oregon Nikkei Endowment/Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center changed its name to Japanese American Museum of Oregon
The term "Nikkei" means Japanese emigrants and their descendants.
Japanese American Museum of Oregon is a history museum in Portland, charged with the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Nikkei community. Formerly known as the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, the museum opened the doors to its current home in September of 2004 with a permanent exhibit space that highlights Issei immigration and early life in Oregon, Nihonmachi (Japantown), and life after Executive Order 9066, including the Portland Assembly Center and contemporary Nikkei life.
The Japanese American Museum of Oregon has expanded storage for archives and historical artifacts, a community room for public meetings and programs, and an improved library. The current location has been made possible through the generosity of Naito Corporation, community contributors, corporate and business donors, and foundation grants.
For many years we have been searching for a property to purchase, allowing us to stay in the bounds of Portland's historic Japantown. Through an opportunity with Prosper Portland, we have acquired the first floor of the Old Town Lofts on the corner of NW 4th and Flanders Street in Old Town, ensuring our presence in this culturally significant neighborhood. Check back for information on programs, our closure at the 2nd Avenue site, and our re-opening at the 4th and Flanders site.
Exhibit Hours: Currently closed to the public in preparation for our Virtual Grand Reopening
From the Dreams of Many, One Reality
The first serious effort to document the history of Oregon's Japanese immigrants began in 1973. The "Issei Appreciation" project led to a collection of slides documenting the achievements of the Issei (first generation) pioneers who settled in Oregon before discriminatory laws halted further Japanese immigration in 1924.
In 1990, the Japanese American Historical Plaza was completed at the north end of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Conceived and guided by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, the Plaza, along with its narrative of sculpted stones, stands as a permanent memorial to the lives of Oregon Nikkei and their determined pursuit of liberty, equality, and justice as American citizens.
Also in 1990, Portland hosted its first reunion of Oregon Nikkei who lived in the state before the start of World War II. Over 900 people attended from all over the world. The program focused on life in Japantown, a once-thriving section of Northwest Portland, where many attendees had lived, worked, and raised families. It was here that the idea of initiating a broad-based effort to document the story of Oregon Nikkei was born.
In the spring of 1992, the Nikkei community marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066. Under the authority of this document, the military was directed to incarcerate all persons of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast. A half-day dramatic program recounted the fear, grief, indignation, and bewilderment that swept through the Nikkei community in 1942 as entire families were herded into makeshift quarters at the Portland Assembly Center, formerly the Portland International Livestock Exposition. An extensively-researched videotape documenting this tragedy was also produced.
With funding from the Meyer Memorial Trust and support from the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Nikkei community, an exhibition honoring the first Issei pioneers in Oregon was developed in 1993.
It was while researching In This Great Land of Freedom: The Issei Pioneers of Oregon that the Nikkei community was alarmed to find that historical documentation relating to these early settlers was rapidly disappearing.
Cause for even greater concern surfaced in 1995 when 700 Nikkei residents of pre-WWII Oregon came together for a second reunion. Only five surviving members of the original Issei who settled in Oregon attended the reunion. Five years earlier, there were closer to 20.
The prospect of losing forever the legacy of their Issei forebears quickly moved the community to action. A committee was formed, and work began in earnest to locate a site for what would one day become the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.
The vision for the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center was initially adopted by the Oregon Nikkei Endowment Board in 1995. It envisioned a multi-purpose facility where items of historical importance to Oregon Nikkei could be preserved and where the unique character and traditions of its culture could flourish and find expression.
By 1996 and with the help of the late Bill Naito, the committee had located a potential site owned by the H. Naito Corporation on Northwest Front Avenue across from the Japanese American Historical Plaza. Negotiation for acquiring the property and bringing it up to city building codes began, but were suspended upon the untimely death of Mr. Naito. Subsequently, Sam Naito and the H. Naito Corporation proposed an alternative site in Old Town on NW Second Avenue. In September of 2004, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center relocated to 121 NW Second Avenue in the historic Merchant Hotel building. In May 2021, the Japanese American Museum of Oregon (formerly known as Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center) will re-open its new museum at the Naito Center at 411 NW Flanders Street.
Japanese American Museum of Oregon
The Japanese American Museum of Oregon serves as a focal point for the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Nikkei community. One of the most important chapters in the Japanese American experience is the forced incarceration of over 110,000 persons of Japanese descent during the Second World War. This fuels our commitment to the preservation of civil rights for all Americans. The Japanese American Museum of Oregon is a venue for cultural and research activities and an invaluable resource for the exploration of the experiences of Nikkei and their role in Oregon's multi-cultural community.
Oregon Nikkei Endowment
The mission of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment is to preserve and honor the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, to educate the public about the Japanese American experience during World War II, and to advocate for the protection of civil rights for all Americans.
Sean Egusa, Vice President
Lynn Fuchigami Parks, Executive Director
For information on administrative hours,
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