An opening reception for “Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Military Intelligence Service” was held on July 25 at Go For Broke National Education Center in Little Tokyo.
“Nikkei Samurai” will be on display as part of the “Defining Courage” exhibition at GFBNEC, located at First and Central in Little Tokyo, through Aug. 26.
The Nisei soldier-linguists of the MIS served in Asia and the Pacific during World War II, giving U.S. and other Allied forces a tactical advantage by translating Japanese documents and broadcasts and interrogating POWs. After the war, they helped rebuild Japan by serving as liaisons for the U.S. occupation forces.
All Japanese were required to give up their weapons, including swords that were historical treasures or family heirlooms. Many swords were destroyed, dumped into Tokyo Bay, or taken home as souvenirs by G.I.s. However, many families entrusted their swords to Nisei soldiers for safekeeping; some of these centuries-old swords are in the exhibit.
Speakers at the reception included Mitchell Maki, GFBNEC president and CEO; Stephen Kagawa, GFBNEC chairman; and Darin Furukawa of Jidai Arts, co-curator with Michael Yamasaki of the exhibit. Nisei World War II veterans Fernando Sosa Masuda, Yosh Nakamura and Don Seki also attended.
Visitors can try on a suit of samurai armor on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who have swords or sword fittings can bring them for a free appraisal on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations must be made in advance by contacting Andie Kimura at [email protected] or (310) 222-5703.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo