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GFBNEC Presents ‘Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Nisei Veteran’

Darin S. Furukawa of Jidai Arts, co-curator of “Nikkei Samurai,” gives a tour of the exhibition, which includes a sword given to his grandfather, Richard Furukawa, who served with the MIS during the U.S. occupation of Japan. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered that all swords be confiscated and destroyed, many Japanese gave their swords to Nisei servicemen for safekeeping. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has announced the opening of “Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Nisei Veteran,” a special exhibition on display through Sept. 17 as part of this year’s Nisei Week Festival in Little Tokyo.

The exhibit, featuring rare and historically significant pieces of arms and armor from Japan’s feudal era, will be held within GFBNEC’s “Defining Courage” exhibition, located in the historic former Buddhist temple on the west side of the plaza at First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo.

The exhibition explores how second-generation Japanese American soldiers of World War II preserved and exemplified the samurai spirit — not only through the heroism of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion in the European Theater, but through the integrity of the Military Intelligence Service, which served in the Pacific and occupied Japan. The traditional code of bushido consists of eight virtues: righteousness; courage; benevolence/mercy; respect; integrity; honor; loyalty; and politeness/self-control.

“Nikkei Samurai” is curated by Darin S. Furukawa and Michael Yamasaki, samurai arts specialists from the educational organization Jidai Arts ( They have provided exhibitions of Japanese swords and armor for the Nisei Week Festival for the past 10 years, and were the curators for “Art of the Samurai: Swords, Paintings, Prints and Textiles” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and “Jidai: Timeless Works of Samurai Art” at the Japanese American National Museum.

Michael Yamasaki of Jidai Arts, co-curator of “Nikkei Samurai,” appraises a sword for Paul Abe. Community members are invited to bring samurai swords or sword fittings to GFBNEC on Aug. 19 for a free appraisal. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

“Nikkei Samurai: Japanese Swords and the Nisei Veteran” is free with admission to GFBNEC’s “Defining Courage” exhibition, which is free during Nisei Week, which runs from Aug. 19 to 27. General admission during regular operations is $9 for adults and $5 for seniors. Students and teachers enter for free, courtesy of a generous grant from the Aratani Foundation. Operating hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Monday.

In conjunction with the exhibition, GFBNEC will host a free public event on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will be able to try on a suit of samurai armor. Community members are invited to bring in any samurai swords or sword fittings for a free appraisal by Yamasaki, the only non-Japanese citizen to ever win first place in the prestigious All-Japan Sword Convention Appraisal Challenge held by the Japanese Sword Museum. He has performed appraisal work for nationally syndicated television shows, including History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.”

Reservations for appraisals should be made in advance by contacting Tessa Cencula at or (310) 222-5711. For more information, go to

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