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The Go For Broke Spirit Photo Exhibit

Exhibit Poster, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits from 1999-2022. Portrait of Terry Shima, 442nd RCT by Shane Sato. Poster by Kenny Yamada.

The Japanese American Veterans Association is co-sponsoring a photo exhibit, The Go For Broke Spirit, featuring images of Japanese American veterans who served during World War II by Shane Sato, a photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. The exhibit will be shown at the Japan Information and Culture Center (JICC), located at 1150 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., and will run from June 9 to July 22, 2022. The event is co-sponsored by JAVA through donations from Glen S. Fukushima and Dr. Thomas Yoshikawa, JICC, the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance through a grant from the Japanese American Community Foundation, and Mr. Shane Sato.

Mr. Sato has spent the last twenty-plus years using his shutter to capture evocative portraits of Japanese American World War II veterans, soldiers who fought and served America in the segregated unit of the 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and as members of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) while their families and friends were imprisoned in internment camps back home. His larger-than-life images of these ageless veterans in the military dress have been published in two books entitled “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and "Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy."  From these works, Mr. Sato has created the photo exhibit that will be shown at the JICC.

The exhibit is the first time Sato’s works will be shown on the East Coast.  Exhibit visitors can glimpse the indomitable essence of these men, who despite experiencing intense racism and discrimination following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, armed themselves with the gambler’s motto of “Go For Broke,” a phrase uttered in dice games to signal an all-out effort, and volunteered to fight. And “Go For Broke” they did: Their heroism and sacrifice on the battlefield earned them the moniker “Purple Heart Battalion” because of the many causalities suffered in combat. Those based in the Pacific were assigned to the MIS, a clandestine intelligence gathering unit, and aided the war effort by translating documents and interrogating prisoners. The MISers also helped rebuild post-war Japan. In other images, hints of the soldiers’ unique Japanese American ethos, exemplified by the word “Gaman,” or enduring the unbearable with dignity, are evident. By portraying the veterans in uniform, Sato ensures the patriotism that propelled his subjects to volunteer is powerful and creates an unforgettable history lesson for viewers.  Ultimately, Sato’s exhibit is a quintessential tale of American adversity and triumph, and in the words of Sato, “their success story helped shape the world that we live in today.”

Shane Sato’s books, “Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage” and "Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy." Photo: Courtesy of S. Sato.

The photo exhibit is open to the public and admission is free. Exhibit hours are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Admission is free. 

The JICC will have special gallery hours from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday, June 11, 2022, and invite the public to hear Shane Sato speak at 2:00 pm about his work and the specific portraits on view. The program will be free, but a ticket from Eventbrite will be required to enter the program (available mid-May). 

The portraits on view at the JICC are taken from Shane Sato’s hardcover books, The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Courage and The Go For Broke Spirit: Portraits of Legacy. In addition to inspiring you, these coffee table books make handsome gifts. From June 9 to 11, Shane will be at the JICC to sign and personalize books.

Shane’s books are $60.00 each or $110.00 for both volumes. For this special JAVA event, pre-ordered shipping to JICC is free. All pre-orders must be placed by May 25th on Sato’s website  When completing the order form, please use JICC as the mailing address: 1150 18th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Orders can be picked up during JICC gallery hours June 9-11.

For more information about Shane Sato’s work, please visit his website, Facebook, and Instagram

For more information, please visit our sponsors’ websites:

Japanese American Veterans Association at JAVA’s point of contact is Neet Ford, Executive Director, at  

Veterans Memorial Court Alliance website is

Japan Information & Culture Center, Embassy of Japan website is

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