Oregon Nikkei Endowment

Japanese American History Museum
A project of Oregon Nikkei Endowment

121 NW 2nd Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 224-1458

Exhibit hours:
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 3 p.m.

$5 admission,
free for Friends of Oregon Nikkei Endowment

Current Exhibits

Oregon Nikkei: Reflections of an American Community

This special exhibit celebrates the lives and contributions of Oregon's Nikkei community, and evokes memories of shared experiences - from early settlement through the unique challenges of World War II and into the 21st century. Please join us at the Legacy Center for a unique and educational glimpse of Japanese American life in Oregon.



Capturing a Generation through the Eye of a Lens:
The Photographs of Frank C. Hirahara, 1948-54

February 1 — June 15, 2014

ONLC 3200 ONLC 2838 ONLC 3206

Nisei bowlingHit the Lanes at Hollywood Bowl
Sunday, April 13, 1:00 p.m.
at Hollywood Bowl, 4030 NE Halsey St, Portland
Cost: $10 (includes 2 hours of bowling, shoes, and food)
Free for Nisei and the Silver Circle!

Visit our activities page for more information on these events

Capturing a Generation through the Eye of a Lens features an extraordinary collection of post-war photographs taken of Portland's Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans), providing a revealing glimpse into their community and lives. Between 1948 and 1954, Frank C. Hirahara, a serious amateur photographer who worked for Bonneville Power Administration, captured hundreds of photographs depicting community picnics, beach outings to the Oregon Coast, teen socials and dances, wedding receptions, and life in the heart of Portland's Japantown. As an active member of the Portland community, Frank served on the Portland Japanese American Citizens League, bowled with the Oregon Nisei Bowling League, and was vice president of the Young Buddhist Association representing the Portland region.

Heart Mountain

As a member of the Photographic Society of America, Portland Photographic Society and the Oregon Camera Club, where he served on the Board of Directors, Hirahara also took photographs of aspiring local models, Portland's Rose Festival Parade, and was an award-winning photographer in Portland. A native of Yakima Valley, Washington, Frank honed his skills as a young photographer and photo editor of the Heart Mountain High School Tempo Annual while incarcerated during World War II with his family at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming.

This locally curated, multimedia exhibition features artifacts on loan from Washington State University's Manuscript and Special Collections and the City of Anaheim Public Library along with a short segment of the documentary film, Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain, by Los Angeles ABC7 News Anchor David Ono. The exhibit also shares historic photographs from the Washington State University George and Frank C. Hirahara Collection of Heart Mountain which is considered to be the largest private collection of photos taken in the camp from 1943-45.

Come learn about the man behind the camera and hear the stories his photos have to tell!

Rose Festival 2014 Sanctioned Event

Exhibit hours:
Tuesday - Saturday 11 am to 3 pm, Sundays noon to 3 pm. Admission is $5 ($3 for seniors/students, free for Friends of Oregon Nikkei Endowment).

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center
121 NW 2nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97209 Directions

Phone: 503-224-1458

Upcoming Exhibits

Art Behind Barbed Wire:
A Pacific Northwest Exploration of Japanese American Arts and Crafts Created in World War II Incarceration Camps

July 5 – September 28, 2014

Art Behind Barbed Wire is a travelling exhibition from the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington's Northwest Nikkei Museum, featuring arts and crafts from the Pacific Northwest community created by Japanese Americans in World War II incarceration camps. Largely made from scrap and found materials, objects such as carved wooden bird pins, shell brooches, dolls, inlaid furniture, and paintings are a testament to the spirit, strength, and creativity of Japanese Americans who created beauty in the harshest of physical and human conditions. The voices and humanity of those unjustly deprived of their civil liberties are remembered through their art created behind barbed wire.

KidaBefore Memories Fade:
Uncovering the Story of the Kida Family of White Salmon

October 25, 2014 — January 25, 2015 (dates tentative)

When evacuation orders were issued in April of 1942, Kenjiro and Kay Kida, along with their son George, were farming, raising cattle, and growing fruit on seven hundred acres of their family-operated ranch outside of White Salmon, Washington. Classified as "enemy aliens" by their own government, the Kida family had days to pack only what they could carry and report to the Portland Assembly Center.

The Kidas' experience was not unlike those of 120,000 others of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly removed from the West Coast. What made their story unique is that upon evacuation, residents of the town of White Salmon signed a petition attesting to the character of their "good neighbors" and asking that an exception be made of these "loyal citizens."

Both heartbreaking and inspirational, Before Memories Fade will use family records and community recollections to walk in the Kidas footsteps. From the Portland Assembly Center to the sugar beet fields of Eastern Oregon and eventual return back home, this exhibit will give voice to a family's story that was at risk of being lost forever.

Sakura Sakura
February 14 — May 31, 2015 (dates tentative)

Sakura SakuraCelebrated local photographer Motoya Nakamura is creating a body of work by making photographs and videos of Sakura (cherry trees) throughout one year at the Japanese American Historical Plaza and Bill of Rights Memorial in Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The trees, which were a gift from Japan, manifest Japanese American history that is unique to this region and evoke Nakamura's desire to explore the notions of belonging, identity and diaspora—notions with which the artist constantly grapples. According to Nakamura, "As a resident of the United States and an immigrant from Japan I have lived half my life in each country. My identity has changed as I have assimilated to the new culture. I often feel as though I am a foreigner in this new land while simultaneously feeling like a stranger in the old. The trees embody this change and complexity." Nakamura will exhibit a total of nine 40"x40" photographs at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center as part of Sakura Sakura.


Online Exhibits

Tour our permanent exhibit
"Reflections of an American Community"


Japantown PDX
Japantown PDXiPhone Walking Tour of Historic Old Town

Explore Portland's historic Japantown with this walking tour of the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. The city's vibrant pre-WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. Watch historic Japantown street life reappear in "then and now" photographic dissolves.

Japantown PDX documents the vitality of this once-thriving Nihonmachi as well as its sudden disappearance in the spring of 1942 when all people of Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast. In addition to telling Portland's Japantown story, this app explores the remarkably diverse Old Town neighborhood in tour stops that honor its African American, Chinese and LGBT roots. Open the iPhone App Store and search for "Japantown" or visit the Apple iTunes store for more information.

Discover Nikkei
Oregon Nikkei Endowment is partnering with Discover Nikkei, one of the world's largest sources for Nikkei-related databases, history and culture, to create online collections of photographs and history relating to Oregon's Japanese American history.

Nihonmachi: Portland's Japantown


Nikkei Farmers of the Hood River Area

Nikkei Farmers

Taken: Oregonians Arrested after Pearl Harbor

Taken: FBI

Oregon Nikkei History

Portland Assemby Center


Upcoming Exhibits

Online Exhibits


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Current Exhibit

Capturing a Generation through the Eye of a Lens
February 1 — June 15, 2014


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The Legacy Center has a wealth of resources documenting Japanese American history and culture, housing original manuscripts, government documents and publications, as well as historical and contemporary artifacts and photographs.

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Your support will help to ensure that the history, art and culture of the Nikkei are preserved and shared with the community for generations to come.

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For information on administrative hours,
please call us at 503-224-1458.

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