JAMsj museum shop offers array of holiday gifts


Cynthia Sasaki Design pins.

The Japanese American Museum of San Jose.

The Japanese American Museum of San Jose’s (JAMsj) store offers a treasure trove of gifts for every person on your holiday list. Items range from cards and clothing to jewelry and books.

The majority of items sold in the store were created by Japanese American artists.

Cards ($4)

Colorful wooden kokeshi dolls are among the images that appear on the beautiful Japanese-themed greeting cards created by simply3sistersDesigns. The company consists of three sisters who, inspired by their Japanese heritage, form unique, handmade cards using high-quality paper and original, Asian-influenced images. The artists say that they aim to create cards with “striking composition, luminous colors, and simple, often iconic, subject matter.”

Kokeshi doll cards.

Nisei Baseball Shirts ($25) and Caps ($20)

The baseball fan on your list is sure to enjoy a San Jose Asahi baseball team shirt or hat. The San Jose Asahi team, formed in 1913, was one of the top Nisei ball clubs in the area. The team won numerous championships throughout the team’s 30-year history. In 1935, the Asahis beat the Tokyo Giants in a game played at Asahi Field in San Jose. During World War II, baseball provided recreation for Japanese Americans incarcerated in the camps.

Earrings ($36) and Pins ($32)

The lovely earrings and adorable frog pins from Cynthia Sasaki Designs are the perfect gift for the women on your list. The hand-crafted “Lucky Frog Pins” are sold in a variety of different colors. Sasaki utilizes such materials as crystals, pearls, semi-precious gemstones and glass beads. Sasaki mostly works with sterling silver and fine silver, which are kiln-fired.

Cynthia Sasaki Design pins.

The dragonfly pins, which utilize beautiful fabrics, are an ideal accessory for any outfit. Artist Leah Sekiguchi says she has always been attracted to Japanese mingei (folk) art, crafts and design. She also likes to work with other mediums, such as beading, textiles, ceramics and paper craft. Sekiguchi especially enjoys embellishing, repurposing and recycling kimono fabrics with silk screening and stenciling.

Sekiguchi dragonfly pins.

Necklaces and Earrings (prices vary)

The elegant jewelry, including necklaces and earrings, is created from pieces that are not used anymore. Artist Denise Tom, who is the daughter of JAMsj museum curator Jimi Yamaichi, transforms the used pieces into new jewelry. Tom says that it is rewarding to provide the jewelry with a second life. Tom, who was born in San Jose, aims to give back to the community through her work with the museum.

Cards ($4)

Many of the eye-catching cards sold at the museum have been created by a group of museum volunteers. A group of women comes into the museum once a week to create the cards using washi paper. Many of the cards incorporate origami and paper folding. One set of cards even incorporated shiny green paper from tea bags.


Books ($20)

In the book “Camp Days: 1942-1945,” author Chizuko Judy Sugita de Queiroz describes her childhood memories of the World War II concentration camps. The book contains more than 50 color images featuring her remembrances. The book includes an introduction by George Takei. The artist’s work is currently on display in the museum.

Sugita de Queiroz's "Camp Days, 1942-1945" book.

The museum is located at 535 N. Fifth St. in San Jose’s Japantown. It is open noon to 4 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for the general public and $3 for students and seniors. Children under 12 are free. Call (408) 294-3138 or visit www.jamsj.org.

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