Class 6: Work Session at Nikkei Legacy Center

Saito Fish Market

We will be serving as curriculum consultants to the Portland’s Nikkei Legacy Center. The center is dedicated to “Sharing and preserving Japanese American history and culture in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood, where Japantown once thrived.”

Tonight’s class met at the Legacy Center to work with their staff to plan our projects – Todd Mayberry (Director of Collections and Exhibits) and Kim Blair (Education Manager). Our task to is to use our instructional design skills to assist the Center in creating curriculum material. More on our project-based approach.

At this point we are considering four  projects:

  1. Self-guided instructional activities for middle school museum visitors.
  2. A teacher’s curriculum / activity guide to accompany a historic document filled suitcase that goes out on loan to the classroom.
  3. Online archive of documents with guiding questions and activities
  4. Selecting historic materials for inclusion in an iPhone App tour of Portland’s historic Japantown neighborhood.


Students explore exhibit of WWII incarceration camp room at Nikkei Center

Above: Saito Fish Market (Taken circa 1915)
Mr. Saito driving the Saito Fish Market car. Saito Fish Market was located in Portland’s Japantown on what is now NW Fourth Avenue.
ONLC 1497, gift of Rose Niguma.
Image credit / Oregon Nikkei Endowment

8 Replies to “Class 6: Work Session at Nikkei Legacy Center”

  1. I really enjoyed the Nikkei Center today. I loved walking around, seeing the displays they had set up. I loved how interactive it looked, I’m sure it immerses kids in the topic when they visit. I’m also really excited to work with the suitcase , creating lessons. I think it will be a fun time creating various lessons that teachers all over Portland will be able to use. Within the next week we should we opening up the suitcase and beginning to explore what’s really in there.

  2. I also really enjoyed going to the Nikkei Center. I do agree with Ms. Blair however – not enough people know about this place. I’m from Portland, and I’ve never heard of this museum/legacy center before this class. So, it’s really not surprising to me that there are very few teachers who know about it. I’d like to see if there’s a way to increase teacher/community awareness of the Nikkei Center. Also – I was talking to my parents and friends about the museum and the app, and they’re all very interested in both going to see the Center and walking along with the app. That being said, is there a way to do two different apps? Maybe one with all of the various locations that a person could find using geocatching or something similar, and then a smaller, scaled down app that people could use if they’re with a class. I think that that would be an interesting thing to look into as well.

  3. The field trip to the Nikkei Center brought our potential projects into perspective for me. I was surprised how much information and artifacts the museum had readily available. It’s an interesting pocket of Portland history that most Portlanders aren’t familiar with, so these projects will be fun. The tour guide app has immense potential to educate students both young and old and could serve as a useful tool to tourists and exploratory teachers. This would serve a Portland walking tour group well on field trips.

  4. While the Nikkei Center was smaller than I expected it to be, it has a lot of stuff for such a small building. Everywhere I looked there was something interesting to see and I even learned some very interesting tidbits of history, just from our quick visit. I very much look forward to assisting in the app and helping other teachers educated about this interesting section of history.

  5. Like many of my peers, a trip to the Nikkei Center helped put our project in perspective while also informing just how important this project can be to the community of Asian Americans in Old Town and the legacy of those interned by the US government. The most fascinating part for me was finding out just how close many of these organization centers and internment camps were located to the city. I’d always imagined some of these detention centers in far flung areas, and while many of them were, the apparatuses that transported citizens functioned in the confines of the greater Portland area. An already ignominious history took on an even more sinister tone as I walked through the museum.

  6. Leading up to the museum visit, I did not think I could create a quality product for the Nikkei Center. This lack of confidence can be attributed to my limited knowledge of the content. The couple hours we spent at the museum were beneficial. Walking through the exhibits, reading, looking at photographs, I was able to piece together the story and improve my understanding of what transpired during those chaotic times. I’m left feeling more confident and excited about the project.

  7. For the last few days, I find myself thinking about the projects we need to complete for the center. Echoing Damian’s initial thoughts, I had a hard time imagining producing something worthwhile in the time we have left this semester, especially since none of us are confident in our Japanese immigration history. To kick things off, however, I’m glad we found time to visit the Nikkei Center and begin the brainstorming necessary to find some level of success in the time we have left together. It will be interesting to hear the ideas that people have developed this past week the next time we meet.

  8. I thought that the visit to the Nikkei centre was very valuable for our understanding of what we were going to be working with/for. There is a lot of work to be done, and it was very necessary for us to get a basic idea of what we needed to do. The presentation was great, but it was unfortunate that we couldn’t stay there longer. The museum had a lot of exhibits that I hadn’t initially thought about, such as the G.I. Joe Japanese American (with kung-fu grip!). I think that it will be possible to get a working app that looks and feels okay. However, I do not think that we will be able to include everything that we want to include in it, especially because most of us will be getting incredibly busy (if you’re not already). Still, I am excited to begin working on these projects and seeing what we can do!

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