Japanese American Cultural & Community Center - JACCC

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center - JACCC Where arts, culture & community come alive! Address: 244 South San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Phone: (213) 628-2725
Fax: (213) 617-8576
Email: [email protected]

Aratani Theatre Box Office:
(213) 680-3700

The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is the largest Asian American cultural center in the U.S.
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and the preeminent presenter of Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture. Located in Little Tokyo, the historical heart of the Los Angeles Japanese American community, the JACCC was the dream of visionary Issei and Nisei (first and second generation) Japanese American pioneers to create a permanent center for the community and its future generations.

and the preeminent presenter of Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture. Located in Little Tokyo, the historical heart of the Los Angeles Japanese American community, the JACCC was the dream of visionary Issei and Nisei (first and second generation) Japanese American pioneers to create a permanent center for the community and its future generations.

Operating as usual

It's here! Come view the Heritage X exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery, available from now through October 31st. This exhibi...
09/12/2021

It's here! Come view the Heritage X exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery, available from now through October 31st. This exhibition highlights the works of four Japanese American artists—Nob Hadeishi, Mike Kanemitsu, Keisho Okayama, and Sawako Shintani—who influenced the Los Angeles art scene in the early 1970s. Walk-in visits are welcome - no appointments necessary.

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/heritage-x

It's here! Come view the Heritage X exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery, available from now through October 31st. This exhibition highlights the works of four Japanese American artists—Nob Hadeishi, Mike Kanemitsu, Keisho Okayama, and Sawako Shintani—who influenced the Los Angeles art scene in the early 1970s. Walk-in visits are welcome - no appointments necessary.

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/heritage-x

The Heritage X exhibit is coming to the Doizaki Gallery beginning on September 12th! Learn more at jaccc.org/heritage-x
09/09/2021

The Heritage X exhibit is coming to the Doizaki Gallery beginning on September 12th! Learn more at jaccc.org/heritage-x

The Heritage X exhibit is coming to the Doizaki Gallery beginning on September 12th! Learn more at jaccc.org/heritage-x

Tickets are now available!For a limited time only, n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watan...
09/01/2021

Tickets are now available!
For a limited time only, n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center at JACCC.

Tickets are released in 3-week increments and are going fast. For more info & to purchase tickets, visit http://JACCC.org/n-soto.

#discoverJACCC #LittleTokyo #DLTA #Community #Arts #Culture #Culinary #nsoto #nnaka

Tickets are now available!
For a limited time only, n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center at JACCC.

Tickets are released in 3-week increments and are going fast. For more info & to purchase tickets, visit http://JACCC.org/n-soto.

#discoverJACCC #LittleTokyo #DLTA #Community #Arts #Culture #Culinary #nsoto #nnaka

The end of August is almost here, but the heat continues. Get a mental reprieve by viewing these cooling, water-focused ...
08/30/2021

The end of August is almost here, but the heat continues. Get a mental reprieve by viewing these cooling, water-focused arrangements from Ikebana at Home: Featuring the Sogetsu School.

Check out the full exhibit at http://JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021-part-2.

For a limited time only! n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Cent...
08/26/2021

For a limited time only!
n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center at JACCC.

Tickets are available for purchase starting Wednesday, September 1. For more details, please visit http://JACCC.org/n-soto.

For a limited time only!
n/soto, sister restaurant to n/naka, will pop up in the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center at JACCC.

Tickets are available for purchase starting Wednesday, September 1. For more details, please visit http://JACCC.org/n-soto.

Part 2 of the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit is now on display! View sixteen new arrangements...
08/24/2021

Part 2 of the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit is now on display! View sixteen new arrangements inspired by their August theme of “pure water”.

Check out the full exhibit at http://JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021-part-2.

Today and tomorrow are the last days to visit the Bamboo and Petals exhibit! Hurry in to view the beautiful ikebana arra...
08/21/2021

Today and tomorrow are the last days to visit the Bamboo and Petals exhibit! Hurry in to view the beautiful ikebana arrangements – no appointment necessary!

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

Today and tomorrow are the last days to visit the Bamboo and Petals exhibit! Hurry in to view the beautiful ikebana arrangements – no appointment necessary!

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

Today, yellow rose petals flutter down with the echo of afternoon festival drums今日も午後祭りの太鼓きこゆる山吹の散るA poem by #issei Toku...
08/20/2021

Today, yellow rose petals flutter down with the echo of afternoon festival drums
今日も午後祭りの太鼓きこゆる山吹の散る

A poem by #issei Tokunaga Togarashi (德永田芥子) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles. (Translation assistance from Julie Li Zhu)

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世

Today, yellow rose petals flutter down with the echo of afternoon festival drums
今日も午後祭りの太鼓きこゆる山吹の散る

A poem by #issei Tokunaga Togarashi (德永田芥子) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles. (Translation assistance from Julie Li Zhu)

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世

If you missed it last weekend, don’t worry! The Bamboo and Petals Ikebana Exhibit is open this Saturday and Sunday from ...
08/19/2021

If you missed it last weekend, don’t worry! The Bamboo and Petals Ikebana Exhibit is open this Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm, so you still have a chance to see this exhibit in person – no appointment necessary!

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

If you missed it last weekend, don’t worry! The Bamboo and Petals Ikebana Exhibit is open this Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm, so you still have a chance to see this exhibit in person – no appointment necessary!

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

📢Attention Artists! Learn more about the Little Tokyo Public Art Project at a pre-bid meeting hosted by the Los Angeles ...
08/18/2021

📢Attention Artists! Learn more about the Little Tokyo Public Art Project at a pre-bid meeting hosted by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs next Thursday, August 26, 2-3PM.

Zoom Meeting ID: 854 0682 4056
Passcode: 805307

DCA has released a new project fact sheet for the Little Tokyo Public Art Project. Find it here https://linktr.ee/culture_la.

Artists can learn more about the technical parameters, and community engagement component of the Little Tokyo Public Art Project at a pre-bid meeting hosted by DCA on Thursday, August 26 from 2 to 3:00 p.m.

Zoom Meeting ID: 854 0682 4056
Passcode: 805307

#artopportunity #artistopportunity #littletokyo #rfp #callforartists #callforsubmissions #publicart #publicartla #cd14

Take a look at these lovely arrangements from the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit!Which one is...
08/16/2021

Take a look at these lovely arrangements from the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit!

Which one is your favorite?

Be sure to view the full exhibit at JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021

Today is the opening reception for Bamboo and Petals, the newest installation in the George J. Doizaki Gallery! This in-...
08/14/2021

Today is the opening reception for Bamboo and Petals, the newest installation in the George J. Doizaki Gallery! This in-person exhibit will showcase arrangements from the three major Southern California ikebana schools – Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Ohara – and pays tribute to the lives lost to COVID-19.

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

Today is the opening reception for Bamboo and Petals, the newest installation in the George J. Doizaki Gallery! This in-person exhibit will showcase arrangements from the three major Southern California ikebana schools – Ikenobo, Sogetsu, and Ohara – and pays tribute to the lives lost to COVID-19.

Learn more at http://jaccc.org/bamboo-petals.

Join us tomorrow, August 12 at 5pm for a panel discussion: “Redressing Racial Injustices Through Reparations and Solidar...
08/12/2021

Join us tomorrow, August 12 at 5pm for a panel discussion: “Redressing Racial Injustices Through Reparations and Solidarity”.

Featured panelists include Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Mia Yamamoto, and Jon Osaki, with John Mathews II as moderator.

RSVP at www.langstonbar.org/civil-rights

Join us tomorrow, August 12 at 5pm for a panel discussion: “Redressing Racial Injustices Through Reparations and Solidarity”.

Featured panelists include Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Mia Yamamoto, and Jon Osaki, with John Mathews II as moderator.

RSVP at www.langstonbar.org/civil-rights

These beautiful ikebana arrangements were created by the Sogetsu School and are featured in our virtual exhibit. Be sure...
08/09/2021

These beautiful ikebana arrangements were created by the Sogetsu School and are featured in our virtual exhibit.

Be sure to view the entire exhibit at JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021

The 76th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are on August 6 and 9. Twenty-four-year-old poet...
08/06/2021

The 76th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are on August 6 and 9.

Twenty-four-year-old poet Tōge Sankichi was in Hiroshima, an experience that changed his poetry forever. This is a prelude to his 1951 collection, Poems of the Atomic Bomb.

The accompanying photo is of the Hiroshima flame, which the Mayor of Hiroshima gave to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley in 1984. The City gave the flame to the Koyasan Buddhist Temple in Little Tokyo, which has maintained it for about four decades.

Check out this beautiful selection of arrangements from the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit!Ma...
08/02/2021

Check out this beautiful selection of arrangements from the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School virtual exhibit!

Make sure to view the entire exhibit at http://JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021

Anywhere I stand on tiptoes, the stone road is before me and clouds are underfootどこまでも爪さき上り石ころ道はやも雲は足もとA poem by #issei ...
07/30/2021

Anywhere I stand on tiptoes, the stone road is before me and clouds are underfoot
どこまでも爪さき上り石ころ道はやも雲は足もと

A poem by #issei Sato Isui (佐藤一水) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles. (Translation assistance from Julie Li Zhu)

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世

Anywhere I stand on tiptoes, the stone road is before me and clouds are underfoot
どこまでも爪さき上り石ころ道はやも雲は足もと

A poem by #issei Sato Isui (佐藤一水) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles. (Translation assistance from Julie Li Zhu)

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世

Check out the latest episode of Art in the New Normal web series, featuring Shoshi Watanabe! Shoshi Watanabe works with ...
07/30/2021
ART IN THE NEW NORMAL: Shoshi Watanabe

Check out the latest episode of Art in the New Normal web series, featuring Shoshi Watanabe!

Shoshi Watanabe works with interior design, hotel projects, dishware for restaurants, and exhibits sculptures and installations as an artist.

Learn more about the artist at http://JACCC.org/shoshi-watanabe

ART IN THE NEW NORMAL: Shoshi Watanabe | S01E05 Shoshi Watanabe works with interior design, hotel projects, dishware for restaurants, and exhibits sculptures...

Meet our final recipients of The Kintsugi Spirit Artist Grant: Emily Okamoto and Krystal Matsuyama-Tsai.Emily Okamoto is...
07/29/2021

Meet our final recipients of The Kintsugi Spirit Artist Grant: Emily Okamoto and Krystal Matsuyama-Tsai.

Emily Okamoto is a 17-year old 5th generation Japanese-American dancer and Krystal is a freelance movement educator and artist born and raised in Southern California.

Learn more about Emily and Krystal at jaccc.org/kintsugi

07/29/2021

The California Legislature has designated July 29, 2021, as "Sugihara Visas Day" to memorialize the great achievements of Chiune Sugihara in saving thousands of Jewish lives during World War II. The resolution, which passed both chambers of the California Legislature unanimously, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg and principally co-authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi.

The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, American Jewish Committee-Los Angeles & JACCC will co-sponsor a virtual program supported by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles commemorating the day which can be viewed at JACCC.org/sugihara on July 29, 2021, at 5 pm PDT. The program will include remarks by elected officials, a presentation by Sugihara House in Kaunas, Lithuania, and a special piece created especially for the occasion by JACCC Master Artist in Residence Hirokazu Kosaka.

Art in the New Normal is back! Stay tuned for tomorrow's release of Episode 5 featuring Shoshi Watanabe!
07/29/2021

Art in the New Normal is back! Stay tuned for tomorrow's release of Episode 5 featuring Shoshi Watanabe!

Art in the New Normal is back! Stay tuned for tomorrow's release of Episode 5 featuring Shoshi Watanabe!

Have you visited the Torch exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery yet? If you’re unable to make it in, be sure to check out the ...
07/28/2021
1932 Olympics Toyo Miyatake Album

Have you visited the Torch exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery yet? If you’re unable to make it in, be sure to check out the virtual components! This book is a digitized version of Toyo Miyatake’s personal photo album, consisting of some of his favorite pictures from the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics (from the collection of Alan Miyatake).

View the virtual exhibit and learn more at jaccc.org/1932-olympics-exhibit

Flipsnack is a digital catalog maker that makes it easy to create, publish and share html5 flipbooks. Upload a PDF or design from scratch flyers, magazines, books and more.

Have you seen the virtual Sogetsu exhibit yet? Here’s a selection from the first set of arrangements! View the entire ex...
07/26/2021

Have you seen the virtual Sogetsu exhibit yet? Here’s a selection from the first set of arrangements!

View the entire exhibit at JACCC.org/sogetsu-2021

Don't miss out! The 1932 LA Olympic Photos by Toyo Miyatake exhibit is only available until August 8! Walk-ins welcome -...
07/25/2021

Don't miss out! The 1932 LA Olympic Photos by Toyo Miyatake exhibit is only available until August 8! Walk-ins welcome - no appointments necessary! View the virtual exhibit and earn more at http://jaccc.org/1932-olympics-exhibit.

Don't miss out! The 1932 LA Olympic Photos by Toyo Miyatake exhibit is only available until August 8! Walk-ins welcome - no appointments necessary! View the virtual exhibit and earn more at http://jaccc.org/1932-olympics-exhibit.

Picnic on the Plaza is happening tomorrow!! Join us for a day of sun and fun with the following amazing community member...
07/24/2021

Picnic on the Plaza is happening tomorrow!! Join us for a day of sun and fun with the following amazing community members:

✨ @thetamlyntomita, emcee and amazing community leader
✨ @fugetsudo, food demo at 1:30 pm
✨ @azay_littletokyo, food demo at 2:30 pm
✨ and DJ Andrew all day!

FREE to attend! Be sure to visit the wish writing station to complete your Summer celebration, and RSVP at our link in bio for a chance to win gift certificates to Fugetsu-Do and Azay.

And don’t forget to visit the info booth early to buy your limited edition DLT tote and pins while supplies last! 🤩

A spear tip arcs in the blue sky, drawing a rainbow穂尖せんせんと蒼空を描きゆく虹An Olympics haiku by #issei Sato Ichimizu (佐藤一水) from ...
07/23/2021

A spear tip arcs in the blue sky, drawing a rainbow
穂尖せんせんと蒼空を描きゆく虹

An Olympics haiku by #issei Sato Ichimizu (佐藤一水) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles.

View more poems along with Toyo Miyatake's photos of the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics at JACCC's George J. Doizaki Gallery, July 11-Aug 8.

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世 #toyomiyatake

A spear tip arcs in the blue sky, drawing a rainbow
穂尖せんせんと蒼空を描きゆく虹

An Olympics haiku by #issei Sato Ichimizu (佐藤一水) from the Torch (炬火) poetry anthology (1933), Los Angeles.

View more poems along with Toyo Miyatake's photos of the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics at JACCC's George J. Doizaki Gallery, July 11-Aug 8.

#isseipoetryproject #asianamericanliterature #bookworm #literaturelover #俳句 #haiku #詩 #poetry #fridayreads #一世 #toyomiyatake

Meet our fourth recipient of The Kintsugi Spirit Artist Grant: Erin Shigaki.Erin Shigaki is a yonsei born and raised in ...
07/22/2021

Meet our fourth recipient of The Kintsugi Spirit Artist Grant: Erin Shigaki.

Erin Shigaki is a yonsei born and raised in Seattle, WA. She infuses untold community history and stories into murals and installations with a deep focus on racial and social justice.

Learn more about Erin at http://jaccc.org/kintsugi

Join us this Saturday 7/24 for Picnic on the Plaza! This event is free to attend, all ages welcome! With food demos by t...
07/22/2021

Join us this Saturday 7/24 for Picnic on the Plaza! This event is free to attend, all ages welcome! With food demos by the mochi-making manju-man of @fugetsudo and Chef Hirose from @azay_littletokyo !
The Little Tote-kyo will be available in limited quantities and well with our Delicious Little Tokyo pins! Let’s go, Little Tokyo! @golittletokyo

Link to RSVP in our bio ❤️

🌹TICKETS ON SALE NOW 🌹Entity Contemporary Dance (@entitycontemporarydance) and JACCC present EntityFeatures, a series of...
07/21/2021

🌹TICKETS ON SALE NOW 🌹

Entity Contemporary Dance (@entitycontemporarydance) and JACCC present EntityFeatures, a series of movement films created by and for Entity. Live screening interwoven with live performance and artist Q&A on Friday, August 13th at 8pm at James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC 🌈

New works by:
Nina McNeely (@ninamcneely)
Will Johnston (@willearnston)
Marissa Osato (@marissaosato)
Karen Chuang (@karenschuang)
Emily Crouch (@emcrouchie)
Shiori Kamijo (@shiorikamijo)
Grayson McGuire (@graysonmcguire17)
Diana Schoenfield (@dianascho)

Tickets: $25/$20/$15. TICKET LINK IN BIO! 🌞

Pre-order Bento Dinner $15: Pre-order a special Japanese bento from Sake Dojo (@sakedojola), curated by Jane Matsumoto, JACCC Culinary Curator. Regular and vegetarian options. Limited supply! 🌱

#entitycontemporarydance #entityfeatures #jaccc

Today marks the beginning of the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School Virtual Exhibit. The Sogetsu School of Ikeban...
07/19/2021

Today marks the beginning of the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School Virtual Exhibit.

The Sogetsu School of Ikebana was started in 1927 by the founder Sofu Teshigahara who questioned the traditions of ikebana and preferred to respect the freedom of individual expressions. “Anytime, anywhere, by anyone,” — and with any materials — is the creed of the Sogetsu School.

Be sure to follow along as we post selected works from the exhibit each week.

View the entire exhibit at http://jaccc.org/sogetsu-2021

Today marks the beginning of the Ikebana at Home: Featuring Sogetsu School Virtual Exhibit.

The Sogetsu School of Ikebana was started in 1927 by the founder Sofu Teshigahara who questioned the traditions of ikebana and preferred to respect the freedom of individual expressions. “Anytime, anywhere, by anyone,” — and with any materials — is the creed of the Sogetsu School.

Be sure to follow along as we post selected works from the exhibit each week.

View the entire exhibit at http://jaccc.org/sogetsu-2021

Address

244 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA
90012

General information

Since first opening its doors in 1980, JACCC has evolved into one of the largest ethnic art and cultural centers in the United States. Its owned-and-operated facilities include the Center Building (which houses: the George J. Doizaki Gallery, Japanese Cultural Room, conference and meeting rooms, office space for more than 20 nonprofit tenant organizations, and the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center & Toshizo Watanabe Exhibition Center), the 880-seat Aratani Theatre, JACCC Plaza designed by Isamu Noguchi, and the award-winning James Irvine Japanese Garden. Located in Little Tokyo, the historic heart of the Japanese American community, JACCC was the dream of visionary Issei and Nisei (first and second-generation) Japanese American pioneers to create a permanent center for the community where arts and culture come alive and can flourish for future generations. JACCC has its roots in the early 1970's redevelopment of Little Tokyo, when a citizens advisory committee determined that one of its first priorities was to build a cultural and community center. With the support of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Los Angeles and other lead funders, JACCC’s Center Building was opened in 1980. This was followed shortly thereafter by the opening of the Aratani Theatre and JACCC Plaza, respectively, in 1983. Construction on JACCC’s facilities took place between 1978 and 1983 at a cost of approximately $15 million. The initial capital campaign to build JACCC was launched in 1976 and largely completed by 1983 with the participation of the Japanese American community, local governmental sources, U.S. foundations and corporations, and Japanese businesses, both in the U.S. and Japan. A final push to retire the remaining building debt of approximately $1 million was completed in 1989.

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 6pm
Tuesday 9am - 6pm
Wednesday 9am - 6pm
Thursday 9am - 6pm
Friday 9am - 6pm

Telephone

(213) 628-2725

Website

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Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States.

A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires—Japanese American Cultural & Community Center connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. Japanese American Cultural and Community Center is the preeminent presenter of Japanese and Japanese American, and Asian American performing and visual arts nationally. The JACCC also provides office space to a wide variety of nonprofit cultural, educational and community-based organizations in Los Angeles.

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Please help Kazumi, her match will likely need to be from the Japanese, Asian or mixed Asian community. See below how to register in the US, if you are outside of the US, message me or comment below and I can share how to join in other countries. Thank you!
Japan's Innovations for an Aging Society November 10th at 7pm Pacific Time. Free online Zoom lecture Presented by The Stanford Health Library in partnership with The Center for Asian Health Research and Education. Japan is the most rapidly aging developed society in the world. Currently, the population 65 years and older in Japan accounts for approximately 29 percent of the total population, and by 2050 it will be 40 percent. As these rapid changes occur, Japan is innovating ways to solve the unmet needs of an aging society. Dr. Ikeno, a Research Associate in Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University and the founder of a Japanese biodesign company that is addressing these issues, will discuss some of these innovations. Fumiaki Ikeno, MD, is a Research Associate in Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University and the Program Director (U.S) Japan Biodesign, Stanford Biodesign. Please register with this link:
this is the text of my coming Rafu article on Marlene Lee and the JACCC. Photo of Marlene with her family: (from left) Caroll Weathers, Tomi Weathers (daughter), Malaya Envela, Marlene Lee, Fulton Weathers (son), Kai Weathers, and Misako Envela. Marlene—Our Lady Soul of Little Tokyo If you’re a regular in Little Tokyo, chances are you know Marlene. You may not know her by name, but you’ve seen her at the many events in Little Tokyo, having lunch at Mitsuru Grill, picking up homeless dogs or cats on the street, or buying some food for a local homeless person. When I first met Marlene, it was during the early days of the Asian Movement, around 1970-71. Marlene was in the Asian American Hardcore and working in the JACS-AI (Japanese American Community Services-Asian Involvement) office. At the time, the JACS office was the hub of the LA Asian Movement. Most of the social services that were fought for by these early Asian American Movement pioneers came out of the JACS office. The Hardcore Collective had all of its members work a full-time work week at the JACS office. Hardcore members were making their way back into the community by working for social change. They had an important impact dealing with the youth drug epidemic that had hit the Japanese American community particularly hard during the 60s and 70s. As Nick Nagatani recounts: “In 1970 alone, 31 teenagers in the JA commmunity died of barbituate overdose—over 2/3 were young women. At this moment in time the JA community chose not to acknowledge or deal with this crisis. Within this vacuum, Sansei activists and community workers developed drug abuse and prevention programs for our youth. Marlene became an integral member of the Asian Sisters Organization, Yellow Brotherhood, and Asian Women’s Center. Her instinctive ability to relate to the youth as a counselor, mentor, and compassionate big sister was respected and loved by all.” Marlene had been working at the JACCC since its inception, before all of its buildings were completed. She has weathered through the highs and lows of JACCC’s near 40-year history, having served under 12 different JACCC executive directors. For years, Marlene was among the staff who sold the most raffle tickets for their annual car “give-away.” When shows at the Aratani Theater were low on ticket sales, Marlene would call up her friends to fill in the empty audience. Marlene was in charge of room rentals for many years, which provided 30% of JACCC’s revenue. And when things started going terribly wrong, Marlene blew the whistle. Despite all the nights and week-ends she had to work because of their event schedule, Marlene remained a loyal employee to the end. Well, the end came with a phone call several weeks ago. There was virtually no warning, but simply a phone call telling her that she was no longer employed—the phone call marked her last day of work. She and four other people were expected to come and clean out their things in the next two days. For all of Marlene’s years of service, and never asking for a raise because she was always told that JACCC has no money—the severance package Marlene is expected to sign off on is a slap in the face. According to fair labor practices, Marlene should be due a more appropriate severance package for the 37.7 years that she has worked there. There would likely be no JACCC to speak of if it hadn’t been for Marlene. She blew the whistle when CEO Greg Willis started making suspicious changes that created a hostile work environment. Marlene was instrumental in forcing Willis to quit after discovering he was an international criminal known for “closing down” businesses that were having financial difficulties. Marlene organized the J-Team, which was formed to protect JACCC staffers that were being threatened by Willis. The Rafu Shimpo reported in August 2013: “Alerted by individuals close to JACCC who, using the popular Internet search engine Google, had come across information that raised concerns about the enigmatic Willis, The Rafu Shimpo discovered a connection between Willis and a shuttered manufacturing plant in France. What was unearthed was an intricate, international web of acquisitions, corporate aliases, union disputes, and lawsuits.” Greg Willis has an international track record of shutting down corporations in Mexico, Canada, and France. J-Team member Nick Nagatani recalls the aftermath of Willis’ departure: “Like others who have divulged sensitive information for the greater good, her transparent disclosures were not appreciated by all. Marlene was ‘rewarded’ by the JACCC hierarchy with a three-month termination notice. Those who knew Marlene's character and commitment to the community, immediately rallied to her defense. A petition of support asking the JACCC to rescind the retaliatory termination was signed by over 115 community members, and hand delivered to the interim JACCC Director (pre-Lesley Ito) just before the termination date. The termination notice was rescinded the same day. To her credit, Marlene has never disparaged the JACCC and has remained a loyal servant to the community it provides services and cultural events for.” These are statements from former co-workers or community members on Marlene’s contributions to JACCC and the Little Tokyo community: “She was like a history book of JACCC to me while I was the JAT (Japan American Theater) staff.” —Erika S. Campe “I worked with Marlene for over a decade. Besides being someone who was always a friendly face to see at work, she cared about the JACCC as well as the whole Little Tokyo community. People like Marlene dedicated their lives to serving the community and are a part of the foundation for which the community stands. —Mark Yonemura “I worked for the Japanese American Citizens League's Pacific Southwest District for more than 30 years. Our office was located at the JACCC. I got an opportunity to know and work with Marlene Lee. Marlene has been a dedicated, hardworking and professional member of the JACCC staff and I could always count on her to take care of all our office needs.” “I'm disappointed to hear that Marlene has been terminated by the JACCC. But I hope that Marlene receives a compensation package that reflects her many years of service and dedication to the JACCC and the Japanese American community.” —Carol Ann Saito “There is so much to say about Marlene. She has demonstrated her service and commitment to the community in so many ways, not only through her work at the JACCC. She is like the hub of the community—is there anyone she doesn’t know in Little Tokyo? What I remembered most from the Community Service Award she received at the AADAP Program [2013] was Mike Watanabe saying that Marlene was the first person he called whenever he wanted to know about someone or something in the community. He could always rely on her to give him the lowdown on what was happening on the street. Marlene has skills that cannot be learned in the classroom—they are life skills that make her stand out. Her understanding and knowledge is wide and deep. She has always stayed connected to her strong community roots. Marlene is very humble and never asks for or expects any credit for her good deeds. She just does them because that is how she is—a caring, compassionate person who values each person she meets. She has been a loyal and dedicated employee—always going above and beyond her job duties, extending herself and helping to keep the JACCC accountable to the community.” —Sandy Maeshiro “Just as plumbers, electricians, and master tradesmen constructed the physical structure of what is now known as the JACCC; Marlene toiled for over 38 years to build the heart and soul; the spirit of the JACCC!” —Kenwood Jung “Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult for Marlene to find comparable employment. Without disclosing its terms, the offered JACCC severance package does not constitute a "parachute" for a temporary safe landing. It is more akin to a "free fall". Loyalty has always been stressed and taught in our households and community. At this time, we are ‘asking’ the JACCC Board to treat Marlene Lee's forced retirement as you would/should treat a valued member of your ‘family.’ Dignify the value her 37 years of loyal service.” —Nick Nagatani I am so sorry to hear of Marlene's termination. She was always a great employee, while I was connected with JACCC, and she really supported the Japanese American Korean War Veterans, the Japanese American National War Memorial Court and the Memorial Day Ceremonies. —Min Tonai Be clear, the treatment of the longest serving staff of the JACCC has consequence, particularly when that service has incorporated the role of conscience and reflection of community interests and needs. Without title or notice, Marlene Lee has served the Nikkei community consistently and has the respect and affection of an appreciative community. The center may need to make adjustments in the difficult COVID environment and reduce staffing. It must, however, be done thoughtfully and fairly, which would require consideration of the contribution and duration of the service. Most certainly, it should not discriminate on the basis of age. —Ron Wakabayashi I met Marlene in the early 70’s working in Little Tokyo and was struck by her seemingly tough exterior yet caring and soft heart, especially towards young people and animals. She continued to keep in touch with people from those times and shared when they needed support. Our paths again coincided in the early 80’s at the JACCC when the Little Tokyo Service Center and the Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (then known as the National Coalition for Redress/Reparations, NCRR) were also starting out. She was there through the growth of the JACCC and raised red flags to the Board when things went awry. We in NCRR cannot thank Marlene enough for her willingness to find us spaces for our meetings, press conferences and rallies during the hectic redress days and today. I hope that the JACCC sees the importance of caring for people like Marlene as a core value of this community and expresses that, at the very least, through a better severance package for her. —Kathy Masaoka "I worked with Marlene for close to 30 years. We (LTSC) started in the JACCC building there in room 411, and eventually 410. And I was actually in an exercise class with Mar after work—mostly made up of her JACCC staff at the time. That's how I got to know many of them. Mar always managed to find a desk to sit down next to you and catch up on the latest J-Town news: Who got mugged (it was the 1990s), what businesses opened/closed, who was working where now, etc. What Mar lacked in technical skills she made up for with other knowledge she had for a COMMUNITY center. Mar has worked for JACCC for close to 40 years and is still only promised a cheap severance. This clearly shows that her "community center" value is not being recognized. She deserves a much better severance, but also she should be acknowledged publically at a JACCC function, once they are again being held. In the meantime, she should at least be thanked via the Rafu Shimpo for her many and varied contributions with a big photo." —Evelyn Yoshimura, Little Tokyo Service Center Millennials are not the only thing the new millennium has brought—a new heartless breed of business people have taken over the “non-profit” institutions in the JA community. These people do not understand the value of people like Marlene who give heart to our understanding of “community.” The JACCC Board would rather pay off Greg Willis for his unfinished work contract to avert a lawsuit, than honor and treat equitably the living history of the JACCC that resides in the person Marlene Lee. I hope those who know Marlene will speak up on her behalf, and let the JACCC Board know that people like her are an irreplaceable asset in their mission of being our cultural and community center. Anyone who has worked in Little Tokyo as long as Marlene, for the low-wage job and lack of recognition for her invaluable connections to the community, should be honored and celebrated instead of quietly let go. Mary Uyematsu Kao is a retired Sansei photo-journalist and author of the newly published book Rockin’ the Boat: Flashbacks of the 1970s Asian Movement.