The Japanese American National Museum (369 E. 1st St., 213/625-0414, www.janm.org , Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thurs. until 8 p.m., adults $8, children $4) focuses on the experience of Japanese people coming to and living in America. Japanese immigrants came by the thousands to California—one of the easiest and most pleasant places in America to get to from Japan.
From the first, they had a hard time of it, facing unending prejudice, exclusion, fear, and outright hatred. Despite this, the tenacious immigrants persisted, even after the horrific acts of the U.S. government upon the Japanese American population during World War II.
Japanese culture has folded into the bizarre mix that is the United States. It is especially influential in California, where sushi bars are almost as common as diners in urban centers, and whole nurseries devoted to bonsai gardening thrive.
This museum shows the Japanese American experience in vivid detail, with photos and artifacts telling much of the story. You’ll also find galleries sheltering temporary exhibitions, from astonishing displays of ikebana floral art to a show devoted to the Giant Robot comic book.