Members of the Japan and Black L.A. Initiative gather in the central hall of the Japanese American National Museum on March 15.

The Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo was the site of a cultural interchange by the Japan and Black L.A. Initiative on March 15.

Ann Burroughs, president and CEO, and Krystin Hayashi, Ph.D., JANM collections manager, welcomed Japan Consul General Akira Muto and consulate staff, members of the Japanese business community, Little Tokyo organization nonprofit CEOs, and Black United Methodist clergy to an opening luncheon.

Hayashi and Clement Hanami, director of programs, gave guided tours of  the ongoing exhibition “Common Ground: The Heart of Community,” which chronicles Japanese American history from the late 1800s through World War II incarceration, post-war resettlement, and the redress movement.

They were also led through a tour of the recently opened exhibition “Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American WW II Incarceration” by Duncan Ryuken Williams, professor of religion and East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California. Williams is a scholar, writer and Soto Zen Buddhist priest who also serves as the director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

Following a tour of the exhibits, the group engaged in dialogue focusing on the relevance of the JANM exhibits and current intercultural dynamics in the Los Angeles area. Remarks were given by Consul General Muto, Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks of Loyola Marymount University, and Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa, United Methodist West District superintendent.

The Japan and Black L.A. Initiative was launched in October 2020 as a partnership between the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and Black clergy of the United Methodist Church in the Los Angeles area. Its mission is to foster relationships and deepen understandings between the Black, Japanese and Japanese American communities.

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