July 14, 2013

Minidoka Pilgrimage 2013 Generations on Common Ground

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , at 2:47 pm by minidokapilgrimage


Minidoka Pilgrimage 2013 Generations on Common Ground


Minidoka Pilgrimage 2013 Generations on Common Ground

From June 20th to June 23rd, about 200 former Japanese American incarcerees, their family members and friends gathered for the 11th Annual Minidoka Pilgrimage just outside Twin Falls, Idaho. More than 71 years have past since 13,000 Japanese Americans residing in the Pacific Northwest were removed from their homes and sent to a stark Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. Pilgrimage participants — many of whom had spent years at the camp as young children — dedicated much of their time touring and reflecting on incarceration grounds, now the Minidoka National Historic Site.

They connected their experiences to advocacy at a civil liberties symposium on the campus of the College of Southern Idaho, helping to ensure all the stories and history of the Minidoka experience are passed on and that no group of people is ever targeted and incarcerated without due process again.

One of its young attendees Johnny Valdez is a vessel of that history, and inheritor of those stories. A Seattle-based photographer, and the son of a Sansei mother and Latino-American father, Valdez is the grandson of two Nisei who were incarcerated at Minidoka with their families.

“In camp, my grandmother’s name was Porky Noritake,” he says. “She went to Hunt High School and was in a band called the Minidoka Matinee. She sang songs on the radio like ‘Shina No Yoru’ and ‘Don’t Fence Me In.’ ”

Valdez incorporates his Japanese heritage and grandparents’ identities into his artist name, “Johnny Valdez y Uno.”

“My Grandfather’s name was Johnny Uno,” he says. “He was four years older than Porky and graduated from Hunt High School in 1943. He went into the Army, and after training at Camp Shelby was assigned to the 442nd. He served in Italy, Switzerland and Germany. After the war, he went to school on the GI Bill, and later became a podiatrist.”

Valdez’s photo essay honors his grandparents and all Nisei survivors.
“I photograph what I love and what draws me in,” he says. “My grandparents are no longer living, so it is with immense compassion and sensitivity that I go about photographing our surviving Nisei, because, essentially what it is that I am seeing as well as what I am taking a picture of, are my own grandparents. And that is what I love.”

Valdez captures the experience of his first Minidoka pilgrimage in 2012 in the exhibit, “My Minidoka,” which is on display at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington on 1414 South Weller Street in Seattle through Wednesday, July 17th. For more information about the exhibit, please contact admin@jcccw.org.

Children of the Issei

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:31 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Children of the Issei by Dana Mar

Upon a dream
In a ship set on the path of the rising sun
I sailed under the billowing black of a Japanese steam ship
The sea roared her protest and the ship creaked fear into our sleep
We, the voyagers of the Japanese, traversed the ocean over time and uncertain promises
We brought our bags, our skills, our culture, our dreams, and our legacy to the
Land of the Free
They discovered the red and the white of our nations
Were separated by the blue of the ocean, in which our stars fell one by one
Shot down by fighter pilots and blown to bits in Pearl Harbor
In a ship set on the path to the golden waves of grain
I ceased being Japanese and became the enemy

In the nightmare of war
I was the first-born in the United States
Just a Nisei in Issei arms
How could they, those Americans just like us, say
These nurturing arms are the arms of the enemy?
As if my parents had never braved the blue waves to live under the stars and stripes
As if my loving mother could kill as well as she breathed life in a family
My family
Put into “camps” so desolate and so removed from our homes that someone once said
Will they let us die here or kill us first?
Two bags and our own arms to hold the past and future of every family
We were given mere days to leave home behind
All she could carry were her children and her American dream
Shattered by Japanese bombs
Those days were framed in barbed wire and dust

They spit Jap in my eyes and blinded me to hope
We were all faithful to the red, white, and blue
So I swore on my mother’s fear
My children would not be Japanese
Because I was equal in the eyes of God
Equal in my Asian eyes
The eyes that stood witness to the red of the rising sun
The red of the blood shed for atomic bombs that blew up the whites of our eyes

I became Sansei
I grew up knowing little of what that meant
I grew up as an American
Not quite knowing why other kids asked how I spoke such good English
The war had not ended with a mushroom cloud
I fought the shrapnel that threatened to cut my feet as I walked
Down a dusty road
And back to a place where barbed wire pierced my eyes
Pierced my heart
And told me that I had to say something

I woke up and I was Yonsei
Fourth generation in the United States
1942 became a paragraph briefly mentioned in a small classroom
I lived in an alien nation
In alienation
As my peers were deceived by Asian stereotypes
I was a type of person
But somehow not quite a person
My mother’s words echoed on the cases of three men
Korematsu, Hirabayashi, Yasui
In three generations of Japanese Americans
I found a suffering and a sadness that embraced my heart, seventy years later, in tears
But in that ship set on the path of the rising sun
I rose the sails of my voice and became more than my face and my meager height
The words of those who lost themselves in a concentration camp
Resonated stronger than the shockwaves of Nagasaki and Hiroshima
Japanese American became a badge of pride
It was silly when friends became honorary Asians
But from a people feared and hated so strongly once before
I became the dream

Once upon a dream
In a ship set on the path of the rising sun
Over an ocean of every color in one
I dreamt of being an immigrant
An enemy
A prisoner
A mother
A daughter
A legacy
A voice
I opened my eyes to see the sun rise
And woke together with purpose in my voice
And determination in my eyes
We were all American
All proud children of the Issei

A Wooden Heart

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:27 pm by minidokapilgrimage

A Wooden Heart by Dana Mar

Dana Mar - Wooden Heart MP Poem 2 photo (alternative poem)

They close their eyes and hide their tears
Not looking at the horrible sights and fears
Know happiness and laughter, don’t look away
I can’t help anyone with nothing to say
Thus why I keep living with care
I protect all I can, just try me: I dare

We thought we would die in that lonesome camp
The face of my race became a terrorists’ stamp
I opened the door to a shoddy shack
And lived with dust blowing through every crack
To make the most of our situation
We built schools and a fire station
Some volunteered for the war effort
Loyalty to the States never fell short

Regretfully hope was lost at times
When we remembered our nonexistent crimes

To doubt one’s self, is to doubt another
Part of you might be a friend or brother
Don’t jump to judge by nationality
Even you are a native fallacy
In Minidoka I had a wooden heart
After these years, I’ve got to restart

Fly above the trees, soar below the stars
It is a process now, to heal all the scars
A smile can brighten even the darkest days
Just one rain-drop laugh, clears away the haze
I returned to that desolate campsite
The memories came back in new light
Feelings of fear and resentment
Melted away in American testament

I felt the tears passing through that door
Seeing the desolation of camp once more
I looked at it thoughtfully from afar
A blue wooden door standing just ajar
Where now my heart stands wide open
I am made of stronger stuff, unbroken

The future of the past is held in Yonsei hands
Where now that old wood building stands
Hope is rebuilt for a future of
Uneasy prejudice turned communal love

July 11, 2013

National Park Service Grants $1.3 Million to Preserve and Interpret World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites

Posted in Japanese American Incarceration, News tagged , , at 7:22 pm by minidokapilgrimage

For Immediate Release:  July 11, 2013

Contact:  Mike Litterst, 202-513-0354,  mike_litterst@nps.gov
Kara Miyagishima – 303-969-2885, kara_miyagishima@nps.gov

National Park Service Grants $1.3 Million to Preserve and Interpret World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites

WASHINGTON – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced more than $1.3 million in grants to help preserve and interpret the sites where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans – two-thirds of them U.S. citizens – were imprisoned during World War II.

“Our national parks tell the stories not only of American success, but of our failures such as the dark history of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,” Jarvis said. “We make these grants so that present and future generations are reminded what happened and how the people survived these camps. And we make these grants to demonstrate our nation’s commitment to the concept of ‘equal justice under law’ that grew out of these and other civil rights experiences.”

The 14 grant projects include:

  • Creation of a memorial to honor Japanese Americans forcibly removed from Juneau, Alaska and sent to the Camp Lordsburg Internment Camp in New Mexico and later to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho

  • Installation of exhibits at the San Bruno Bay Area Rapid Transit station featuring photographs by Dorothea Lange and Paul Kitagaki telling the story of forced relocation of California Bay Area Japanese Americans and a

  • Plan for acquisition and preservation of an abandoned root cellar, one of the few remaining original structures at the former Heart Mountain site internment site in Wyoming.

  • A kiosk in a Chandler, Ariz., park that focuses on daily life and the importance of baseball at the Gila River Internment Camp and

  • An exhibit at the Los Angeles Go For Broke National Education Center, “Divergent Paths to a Convergent America: A 360 Degree Perspective of the Japanese American Response to WWII.”

The Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program supports projects in seven states. Today’s grants bring grant totals to $12 million of the $38 million Congress authorized when it established the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program in 2006.

Grants from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program may go to the 10 War Relocation Authority camps established in 1942 or to more than 40 other sites, including assembly, relocation, and isolation centers. The goal of the program is to teach present and future generations about the injustice of the World War II confinement and inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law. These are competitive grants with required matches – a dollar of non-federal funds or $2 in-kind contributions for every grant dollar.

A full list of the funded projects follows.  For more details about these projects, visit:  http://www.nps.gov/hps/hpg/JACS/.

For further information: Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager for the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, 303-969-2885 or kara_miyagishima@nps.gov


“Project Title”

Project Site


City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska

“Empty Chair Project”

Minidoka Relocation Center, Jerome County, Idaho and Camp Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, N.M.


City of Chandler, Chandler, Ariz.

“Nozomi Park History Kiosk”

Gila River Relocation Center, Pinal County, Ariz.


The Regents of the University of California (UC-Berkeley, History Department), Berkeley, Calif.

“Japanese American Confinement in the Records of the Federal Reserve Bank”

Multiple Sites


Contra Costa Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, Contra Costa, Calif.

“They Wore Their Best: Photographic Exhibit of the Works of Dorothea Lange and Paul Kitagaki”

Tanforan Assembly Center, San Mateo County, Calif.  and 10 WRA Sites


UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

“Aiko and Jack Herzig Archival Collection Project”

Multiple Sites


Japanese American Citizens League, San Francisco, Calif.

“JACL Teacher Training: Incarceration and Confinement Sites”

Multiple Sites


National Japanese American Historical Society, San Francisco, Calif.

“Camp Collection: A Digital Library”

Multiple Sites


Go For Broke National Education Center, Torrance, Calif.

“Divergent Paths to a Convergent America: A 360 Degree Perspective of the Japanese American Response to WWII Incarceration”

Multiple Sites


Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii

“Exploring Honouliuli: A Multimedia and Virtual Tour”

Honouliuli Internment Camp, Honolulu County, Hawaii


Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, Portland, Ore.

“Farm Security Administration Documentation of Agricultural Labor Internment Camps in the Pacific Northwest”

Multiple Sites: Nyssa, Malheur County, Ore.; Rupert, Minidoka County, Idaho; Shelley, Bingham County, Idaho; Twin Falls, Twin Falls County, Idaho


Nikkei Heritage Association of Washington (Japanese Cultural Center of Washington), Seattle, Wash.

“Unsettled-Resettled: Seattle’s “Hunt Hotel””

Minidoka Relocation Center, Jerome County, Idaho


Wing Luke Memorial Foundation (Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience), Seattle, Wash.

“Inspiring Future Generations: Journeying from Confinement Sites to Battlefields with Japanese American Soldiers”

Multiple Sites


Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation, Powell, Wyo.

“Heart Mountain Archives Project”

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Park County, Wyo.


Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation, Powell, Wyo.

“Heart Mountain Root Cellar Planning and Preservation Project”

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Park County, Wyo.





About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage Photos

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, Photos tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:30 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Here’s links to various sites where pictures from the 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage have been posted!

Feel free to browse and use for your own personal usage but if you wish to use pictures for commercial purposes please contact us at: minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com for more information.

Ryan Kozu:


Eugene Tagawa: 

Thursday: https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/MinidokaPilgrimage2013Day1?authkey=Gv1sRgCJSqso-bqLPDQA 
Friday: https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/MinidokaPilgrimage2013Day2?authkey=Gv1sRgCOPGxbay9oX4WQ
Saturday: Site tours, Legacy sessions: https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/MinidokaPilgrimage2013Day4?authkey=Gv1sRgCOa0g4HwoKGIgAE
Saturday evening: https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/MinidokaPilgrimage2013Day3b?authkey=Gv1sRgCKXM4t3E08S1qAE

July 3, 2013

Minidoka Pilgrimage Reminds Us Of Our Past

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , at 1:53 pm by minidokapilgrimage

If you wish to view the video, please check it out on the KMVT’s website using the link below:


Minidoka Pilgrimage Reminds Us Of Our Past

By Brandon Redmond

Story Created: Jun 23, 2013 at 9:41 PM MDT

Story Updated: Jun 24, 2013 at 3:42 PM MDT

Jerome County, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) “My wife and I have been here twice before and we thought it would be nice to bring our kids and grandkids with us,” said Tebo Matsudaira, a Japanese American.

The Minidoka Pilgrimage is a way for Japanese Americans and all Americans to remember a controversial part of our past.

“This site is important because it’s a piece of American history that maybe we shouldn’t be proud of, but we should acknowledge and learn from,” said Christine Smith with the National Parks Service.

During World War II, thousands of Americans with Japanese ancestry were moved to the Minidoka internment camp. Most of the Japanese community from Alaska, Oregon and Washington spent three years at Minidoka. The pilgrimage is a way for Japanese Americans to reflect on the past.

“To let them know what we went through because we never discussed anything about Minidoka with them and now they are all interested because they are here now and they are very interested in what happened and this is a real good education for them,” said Tebo Matsudaira.

After the war, the land was turned over for agriculture use. Now the park’s service is buying back parts of the land and restoring some of the old buildings.

“And the fact that we are now doing that and we are doing it as part of the National Parks Service story makes it a national story and that’s what makes this important,” said Christine Smith.

Learning from our past for a better future.

Former Internees Trek to Minidoka Relocation Center

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by minidokapilgrimage


Former Internees Trek to Minidoka Relocation Center

June 24, 2013 2:00 am  •  By Julie Wootton – jwootton@magicvalley.com

EDEN • Louise Kashino remembers windy days as a teenager at the Minidoka Relocation Center when the dust would fly up and sting her eyes.

At the camp surrounded by barbed wire, it would make it hard to see anything.

Saturday, the weather conditions were much the same as in the 1940s, as the wind whipped the tall grass at what’s now the Minidoka National Historic Site.

But Kashino – who is in her 80s and lives in Seattle – said when she comes back to visit what was once the internment camp, it isn’t the sagebrush and sand-covered landscape she remembers.

“It’s totally different,” she said, sitting in a tour bus during the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage.

Kashino described the experience as “nostalgic.”

She arrived at the Minidoka Relocation Center – about 15 miles north of Twin Falls – when she was 16 .

About 200 people went on the Minidoka Pilgrimage this weekend, participating in walking tours and ceremonies.

Kashino and about 10 other people on the pilgrimage – many of whom were internees – recalled their experiences as they talked to each other on a tour bus.

Most were children or teenagers when they were at the Hunt Camp. Many come back year after year for the pilgrimage.

Tosh Okamoto, who lives in Seattle, said most of the people who were sitting around him live in the Portland and Seattle areas now.

“Most of us are in our 80s,” he said.

Looking back on his time as an internee, Okamoto recalled what it was like to be forced to relocate.

“I think for most of us, it was an injustice against us,” he said.

But Okamoto said he’s proud of the Japanese-American culture.

“We could have been really angry,” he said, but noted most of his peers aren’t.

The anger over what happened hasn’t been so much that it prevented them from moving forward, he said.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942.

It forced the relocation of more than 120,000 West Coast Japanese-Americans into temporary incarceration facilities.

The Minidoka Relocation Center was one 10 centers.

When internees arrived at the Minidoka Relocation Center in 1942, the camp wasn’t even complete yet. But Hunt, Idaho, ended up becoming the seventh largest population center in the state.

In the 1940s, the camp comprised about 600 structures spanning 33,000 acres. After it closed, many of the buildings were moved. Only a few remain.

Saturday, participants in the Minidoka Pilgrimage wore paper tags on strings with their names, similar to the IDs internees wore at the camp.

Groups took walking tours along a 1.6-mile trail, making stops at buildings such as a root cellar, old warehouse and two barracks with peeling white paint.

But the most of the camp has long been dismantled.

As one of the tour groups stopped in half of an old warehouse, dozens of visitors took pictures and looked up at the old wooden ceiling beams.

In a town that had nearly 10,000 people, the tour guide said, warehouses were essential for storage.

People of several generations – from children to those in their 80s or 90s – looked around the historic site, which was created in 2001.

Many brought cameras and took pictures.

During the pilgrimage, tour groups looked at the honor roll, which lists the names of Japanese Americans from the relocation center who served in the military during World War II.

Okamoto, a World War II veteran, recalls a memorial service for his fellow internees who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army and were killed in action.

“It was a sad time,” he said.