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Washington, D.C.: More to Do Than Just a Convention

By June 19, 2017June 23rd, 2017No Comments

Artwork by Japanese artis Utamaro is currently on display at the Smithsonian Sackler Gallery until July 9.

By David Inoue

In addition to being the host city of the 2017 JACL National Convention, Washington, D.C., is the home to many interesting and historical attractions. The convention will be offering special guided tours of two cultural attractions special to our Japanese American community.

The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II can be found in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol dome. This serene memorial honors the service of Japanese American soldiers and recognizes the thousands incarcerated during the war. A tour will be offered in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Although you will have the opportunity to view the special exhibit “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” at the Smithsonian reception on July 6, there will also be a docent-led tour of the exhibit on July 9 at 2 p.m. While both activities are FREE, registration is required.

In addition, the Smithsonian Sackler Gallery is currently featuring the exhibit “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered” that showcases a three-painting set by Utamaro that has not been exhibited as a complete set in 140 years. The exhibit ends on July 9.

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery also features several prominent Japanese American leaders and artists as a part of the exhibits “20th Century Americans and the Fight for Justice.”

Just a few blocks north of our convention hotel, the Omni Shoreham Hotel, is the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. In less than a 15-minute walk, you can find yourself on the Asia Trail viewing the giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Bei Bei.

Admission is free to all Smithsonian facilities.

Finally, what better way to close out the convention than a trip to the ballpark. With a view of the Capitol dome from many seats in the park, you can watch the hometown Nationals host the Atlanta Braves. Games on July 9 at Nats park feature “Kids Run the Bases,” allowing children ages 4-12 to go on the field immediately after the game to run the bases.

These are just a few of the things Washington, D.C., has to offer. The historic city is home to many more museums and distinct neighborhoods that are worth exploring. And when you find the need to refuel after experiencing all of the sites, remember that Bon Appetit magazine named Washington, D.C., the 2016 Restaurant City of the Year. We hope that you will enjoy this city that we call home.

For additional information, please visit the official JACL National Convention website (

David Inoue is a longtime Washington, D.C., Chapter board member and member of the 2017 JACL Convention Committee.