Community Songfest Fundraiser To Honor Manzanar NHS Superintendent Les Inafuku

The following is a press release from the Friends of Manzanar.

COMMUNITY FUNDRAISER: Event will also raise funds to complete reconstruction of demonstration block at Manzanar National Historic Site.

Manzanar National Historic Site
Superintendent Les Inafuku
(click above to view larger image)
Photo courtesy National Park Service

LOS ANGELES — On November 5, the Friends of Manzanar announced that a Community Songfest, honoring retiring Manzanar National Historic Site Superintendent Les Inafuku, and to raise funds for the completion of Manzanar’s Block 14, will be held on Sunday, December 15, 2013, at Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple’s (also known as Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple) Kaikan (Grand Hall), starting at 2:00 PM.

The Manzanar Committee, sponsors of the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, and the more recent Manzanar At Dusk program, is a co-sponsor of the event.

Inafuku, who was named to the top post at Manzanar NHS in September 2008, became its first Japanese American superintendent since it became a National Historic Site in March 1992.

A 38-year veteran of the National Park Service, Inafuku will retire in January after serving at sites in Hawaii, Wyoming, and Alaska, prior to his work at Manzanar NHS.

The musical event will also help raise funds needed to complete the construction of a demonstration block at the location of residential Block 14 at Manzanar, which will include barracks, a mess hall, and more.

“Block 14 is an expansion of the National Historic Site aimed at encouraging greater understanding of the Japanese American World War II experience,” said Friends of Manzanar fundraising chair Rose Ochi, who was incarcerated as a child, along with her family, at the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas. “Block 14 will enable visitors to more fully appreciate what the incarcerees experienced and what they did to make life bearable.”

Former Manzanar incarceree Mary
Kageyama Nomura, the “Songbird of Manzanar.”
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Mark Kirchner/Manzanar Committee

“The reconstruction of Block 14 is one of the most significant additions to the Manzanar National Historic Site,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “The barracks, along with the mess hall, add an entirely new dimension to the experience.”

“The demonstration barracks offer a sense, a glimpse of what our families were subjected to in Manzanar, and, this demonstration block provides visitors with another take on what life was like in camp, expanding on what is covered in the visitor’s center,” added Embrey. “The Manzanar Committee is excited about the progress being made at Manzanar and is happy to be working with the Friends of Manzanar to ensure the experience and lessons of the mass incarceration of the Japanese American people be preserved.”

Featured singers include Mary Kageyama Nomura, known as “The Songbird of Manzanar,” and former Nisei Week queen and one-time “American Idol” contestant Lauren Kinkade Wong.

Additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Lauren Kinkade Wong
(click above to view larger image)
Photo courtesy Lauren Kinkade Wong

Participation in the program is also open to individual and group singers of all ages. Singers may perform in English or Japanese, but song choices must be suitable for a family audience. Performers must be sponsored by established community-based organizations.

Entry deadline is November 30, 2013.

The event will also include a silent auction. Community sponsorships are $150, and corporate sponsorships are $500.

Hompa Hongwanji is located at 815 East First Street in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, 90012 (northwest corner of East First Street and North Vignes Street; see map below).

To become a sponsor, perform in the show, reserve tickets, or for more information, visit, send e-mail to, or call (818) 203-2779. Tickets are $20.00 for general admission, $5.00 for seniors (65 and over), and free for children age 5 and under.


Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Los Angeles, California, via Google Maps

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2 Responses to Community Songfest Fundraiser To Honor Manzanar NHS Superintendent Les Inafuku

  1. Pingback: Community Songfest Fetes Retiriing Manzanar NHS Superintendent Les Inafuku | Manzanar Committee

  2. Pingback: Community Songfest Fetes Retiring Manzanar NHS Superintendent Les Inafuku | Manzanar Committee

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