After the war, some of them returned to Little Tokyo to start a new life, and slowly the town was revitalized. In the early 1970s, the town needed a reformation and soon it became the business center for the Japanese-American people. Business boomed − Japanese restaurants, stores, and movie houses emerged. The people arrived at a consensus, which is to launch a historical museum that would preserve and remember their history and culture, hence, the opening of the museum in 1992 (Suga).
The museum’s ongoing exhibit, titled “Common Ground: The Heart of Community,” integrates hundreds of entries, documents and pictures gathered by the National Museum and showcases over 15 decades of Japanese American history, dating back from the first generation of the Issei through the World War II internment to the present. The exhibit depicts how the civil rights of 120, 000 Japanese Americans were abused and how they were sent to prison simply because of their cultural heritage (Suga).
One of the most important artifacts on show is an original Heart Mountain barracks; its structure saved and preserved from the concentration camp in Wyoming. In 2010, museum volunteers and the museum’s staff produced a series of short videos sharing the volunteer’s personal experiences associated with artifacts from the exhibit, “Common Ground: The Heart of Community.” The exhibit also displays fabrics, paintings, photographs, and includes spoken histories of Japanese Americans. Such spoken histories come to life as docents share their personal stories. However intimidating, the word “docent“ simply derives from the Latin word, “docere” which means “teacher.” It therefore reminds us that the museum is an educational foundation with the objective of protecting, explaining and sharing the Japanese American accounts (JANM).
Touring us around the museum was volunteer docent, Bill Shishima, born in Little Tokyo in 1930. Shishima recounted how he and his family