GFB to Present ‘Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the MIS’

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The parts of a sword are explained during “Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Nisei Veteran” in summer 2017. (Courtesy GFBNEC)

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has announced a special exhibition, “Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Military Intelligence Service,” which will be on display from July 24 to Aug. 26.

The exhibit, curated by Darin S. Furukawa and Michael Yamasaki of the educational organization Jidai Arts, will feature rare armaments from Japan’s feudal era through modern times.

“Nikkei Samurai” will be held within GFBNEC’s “Defining Courage” exhibition, located in the historic Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple building on the west side of the plaza at First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo.

This is the second time “Nikkei Samurai” will be at GFBNEC. This year, the exhibition will focus on the Military Intelligence Service. This select group of soldier-linguists relied on their knowledge of Japanese language and culture to translate captured documents; monitor enemy transmissions; interrogate prisoners of war; and interact with civilians. The MIS made vital contributions to both the Allied victory in the Pacific and the subsequent occupation and rebuilding of Japan.

Guests will explore the beauty of the Japanese sword and fittings from the collections of MIS veterans and view superb examples of blades and fittings from different eras. The special exhibition will explore the role played by the World War II Japanese American soldiers of the MIS in preserving and receiving samurai swords.

Visitors will be able to try on a suit of samurai armor on Saturday, Aug. 11 and 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Community members also are invited to bring in any samurai swords or sword fittings for a free appraisal on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations for appraisals are required in advance by contacting Andie Kimura at [email protected] or (310) 222-5703. No swords will be allowed inside without prior reservation.

Three katana on display during “Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Nisei Veteran” in summer 2017. (Courtesy GFBNEC)

“Nikkei Samurai” is free with admission to “Defining Courage,” which is pay-what-you-wish. Students and teachers enter for free, courtesy of a generous grant from the Aratani Foundation. Operating hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 12 to 8 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday.

Yamasaki is the only non-Japanese citizen ever to win first place in the prestigious All-Japan Sword Convention Appraisal Challenge held by the Japanese Sword Museum, and has performed appraisal work for nationally syndicated television shows, including History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.”

Furukawa and Yamasaki of Jidai Arts (www.jidaiarts.com) have provided exhibitions of Japanese swords and armor during the Nisei Week Festival for the past 10 years, and were the curators for “Art of the Samurai: Swords, Paintings, Prints and Textiles” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and “Jidai: Timeless Works of Samurai Art” at the Japanese American National Museum.

GFBNEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. Its goal is to inspire new generations to embody the Nisei veterans’ core values of courage, sacrifice, equality, humility and patriotism. Founded in 1989, GFBNEC maintains the Go For Broke Monument; the interactive “Defining Courage” exhibition; extensive oral histories and archives; education and training programs; and other initiatives. For more information, visit www.goforbroke.org.

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