Go For Broke to Lease Space in JANM’s Historic Building

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Pictured in front of JANM’s historic building, the former home of Nishi Hongwanji, are (from left) GFBNEC Chairman Bill Seki, GFBNEC President Don Nose, JANM President and CEO Greg Kimura, JANM Board of Trustees Chair Gordon Yamate, GFBNEC Board of Governors Chair Chip Mamiya.

Pictured in front of the Japanese American National Museum’s historic building, the former home of Nishi Hongwanji, are (from left) Go For Broke National Education Center Chairman Bill Seki, GFBNEC President Don Nose, JANM President and CEO Greg Kimura, JANM Board of Trustees Chair Gordon Yamate, and GFBNEC Board of Governors Chair Chip Mamiya.

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) have finalized 20-year lease terms allowing Go For Broke to move into JANM’s historic building located at 369 First St., at Central Avenue, in Little Tokyo.

Following renovations and refurbishments, Go For Broke staff members will move from Torrance to downtown Los Angeles, bringing them just steps away from the Go For Broke Monument and directly across the courtyard from JANM. The move is expected to take place in mid-2015. An interpretive exhibition for the public will be added with an expected launch in 2016.

GFBNEC will be occupying a landmark building with a rich community history as well as major architectural significance. Built in 1925 by Japanese immigrants, the museum’s historic building was the first in Los Angeles designed specifically to house a Buddhist place of worship.

During World War II, the structure known as the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple was used to store the belongings of local Japanese Americans sent to concentration camps in the U.S.

GFBNEC’s proximity to JANM will open up new possibilities for collaboration, in addition to encouraging the continuation of existing joint events that focus on the veteran experience.

“The Japanese American National Museum is extremely pleased to have Go For Broke as a long-term tenant in the historic building on our campus,” said JANM President and CEO Greg Kimura. “Over the years, and especially recently, we have partnered in sharing Japanese American history with the wider public. The proximity to the monument will not only work very well for them, but being on our campus will also allow for future collaborations in the common work of stewarding the Japanese American experience for the generations.”

Go For Broke had previously intended to build a new facility to house its staff and exhibition. After further consideration, the organization’s leadership felt there were valuable advantages to leasing space in the historic building.

“We believe this partnership is a step in the right direction for community organizations to share the Japanese American story,” explained GFBNEC President Don Nose. “We strive to expand our reach by combining resources in an effort to share all aspects of the diverse Nikkei experience. We hope to build on the invaluable work that has bridged our two organizations for the past decades and provide an important model for future community institutions.”

The veterans associated with Go For Broke have also expressed support for the plan. Long-time member and Military Intelligence Service veteran Victor Abe, who was the structural engineer for the monument, stated, “Not only does this Little Tokyo location adjacent to the Go For Broke Monument make it more convenient for our vets to visit and maintain the site, it also allows us to be closer to the central core of the organizational offices.”

Dedicated in 1999 as a tribute to the over 16,000 Japanese American soldiers who served in segregated units during World War II, the Go For Broke Monument is located on the northern end of Central Avenue near Temple Street.

JANM acquired the Nishi Hongwanji building through a permanent lease from the City of Los Angeles. After renovations, it opened as the museum in 1992. JANM moved to its current location across an open plaza from the historic building in 1999.

The historic building was again renovated to support JANM’s National Center for the Preservation of Democracy and the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, which officially opened in 2005. The forum and its adjacent Democracy Lab will continue to host JANM’s innovative educational project that partners with classroom instructors and community-based mentors to inform young people about the diverse individuals who have shaped American democracy.

Established in 1985, JANM promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. 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, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions on-site and traveled six of its exhibitions to over 30 locations, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Ellis Island Museum, and several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America.

JANM is located at 100 N. Central Ave. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. Admission is $9 adults, $5 students and seniors, free for members and children under age five. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from noon to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information, visit www.janm.org or call (213) 625-0414.

Since its formation in 1986, GFBNEC has been committed to educating the public about the responsibilities, challenges, and rights of American citizenship by using the life stories of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II. In order to share these stories, it began video recording the oral histories of Japanese American veterans, and today has the largest collection of its kind in the country. The interviews have been incorporated into a complete curriculum with lesson plans and web-based project learning to share their story with youth across the country.

On the Go For Broke Monument are the insignias of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 232nd Combat Engineer Company, and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.

GFBNEC is currently located in Torrance at 367 Van Ness Way, Suite 611. For more information, visit www.goforbroke.org or call (310) 328-0907.

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