The former Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will be the centerpiece of an upcoming JANM exhibition.

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) has been awarded $50,000 for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Telling the Full History Preservation Fund.

The grant is one of 80 given to select organizations nationwide with projects that help preserve, interpret, and activate historic places to tell the stories of underrepresented groups in our nation.

The grant will support the upcoming exhibition “BeHere/ 942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration,” curated by Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata and presented by JANM and the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA.

The centerpiece of this exhibition is JANM’s Historic Building, the former Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Built by Japanese immigrants in 1925, the temple was transformed into a place of pain, humiliation, and anxiety about an uncertain future in America when individuals of Japanese ancestry gathered there to board buses for unknown destinations after being forcibly removed from their homes in May 1942.

“BeHere/1942” will utilize the Historic Building’s monumental exterior in a massive virtual installation that recreates that scene from 80 years ago.

“The museum is a repository of Japanese American culture and history,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO. “At nearly 100 years old, the Historic Building remains JANM’s largest artifact. We are grateful for the opportunity this grant has provided us to share the historical significance of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple and the groundbreaking augmented reality installation and artwork of Japanese media artist Masaki Fujihata.”

The grant was made possible through a one-time $2.5 million grant program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021.

“This grant allows ‘BeHere/1942’ to use several humanities disciplines to enhance visitors’ understanding of the Japanese American experience, encourage them to learn more about their own community’s experience, and become active participants in American democracy to ensure that this country’s democratic ideals are honored and sustained for all of us,” said Clement Hanami, vice president of exhibitions. “Visitors from across the country and around the world visiting Little Tokyo will be able to immerse themselves in this history and inhabit narratives that challenge existing ideas of American identity.”

For more information on current and upcoming exhibitions and events, visit

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