Exploring Manzanar: Then and Now

One of the inscriptions in the wall of the Manzanar Reservoir written by a Japanese
American incarceree who worked on the reservoir crew.
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee

During a recent solo trip to the Manzanar National Historic Site in which I spent about 14 hours over roughly two days exploring the site by car and foot, it dawned on me that it was the first time that I was exploring the site in such a detailed fashion or spending as much time doing so.

That realization was spurred by a comment made by Manzanar ranger Rose Masters.

“I can’t believe you’ve never wandered around like this before,” she exclaimed (yes, “exclaimed” is the appropriate verb here).

For those of you who know me fairly well, that must sound really, really strange, if not unbelievable. After all, I’ve been involved with Manzanar for more than 31 years. I’ve been a member of the Manzanar Committee since the mid-1990’s. I served on the Manzanar Advisory Commission from 1992-2002. I’ve been one of the coordinators for the Manzanar At Dusk program since 2008, and now I’m one of the coordinators of a project named, Katari, which I urge you to read about here.
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49th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage/2018 Manzanar At Dusk: VIDEO

UCLA Kyodo Taiko opened the 49th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage on Saturday, April 28,
2018 at the Manzanar National Historic Site.
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee
(click above to view larger image)

If you couldn’t make it to this year’s Manzanar Pilgrimage or Manzanar At Dusk events, or just want to experience them all over again, here are videos from both events!

Included below is the full video of the 49th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, along with clips of our speakers and of the performance by UCLA Kyodo Taiko.

Also included is video of the opening panel discussion and the open mic session of the 2018 Manzanar At Dusk program, held that same evening.

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Manzanar To Host Pilgrimage Weekend Events, April 27-29, 2018

The following is a press release from the National Park Service.


To download a printable flyer,
click on the image above.
(Adobe Reader software required to view/print)

INDEPENDENCE, CA — Manzanar National Historic Site invites visitors to participate in a weekend of special events in conjunction with the Manzanar Committee’s 49th Annual Pilgrimage. All are welcome and the events are free. This year’s Pilgrimage coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided redress to Japanese Americans though a presidential apology and individual payment to all surviving former incarcerees.

Pilgrimage Weekend 2018 events begin Friday, April 27, with a public reception hosted by the Friends of Eastern California Museum from 4:00 to 6:00 PM The Eastern California Museum is located at 155 Grant Street in Independence (see map below). It features exhibits including Shiro and Mary Nomura’s Manzanar collection, the Anna and O.K. Kelly Gallery of Native American Life and exhibits on other facets of local and regional history. Eastern California Museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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Manzanar: One Weekend, One Incredible Experience

UCSD Nikkei Student Union member Erica Wei (center) is shown here at the location of residential Block 9.
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee
(click above to view larger image)

by Erica Wei

Leading up to the weekend of the Keeping Japanese American Incarceration Stories Alive trip to the Manzanar National Historic Site, I was actually very reluctant about going. I thought about dropping from participating several times. This was two weeks before final exams and it was one of the last weekends I could use to study for my exams. I was faced with two decisions: Prioritize academics or follow through with my commitment to the Manzanar Committee. Luckily, I chose the latter.

Coming into this project with no expectations, no prior experience of what was going to happen, I was very curious as to what exactly was planned for myself and four other students. We didn’t even know the name of the project. All we were told was that we would be gone mid-Friday to late Sunday. I thought that we were just touring the Manzanar site and doing logistical planning for the upcoming Pilgrimage—while I was partially right, I missed a huge part of the reason we were there.

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