The Power of Irei

A series of articles related to the Irei: The National Monument for the World War II Japanese American Incarceration, a three-part installation listing the names of more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry imprisoned in 75 U.S. detention camps. This series will honor those individuals that are listed by interviewing people personally connected to the incarceration and offer insights into the impact this project has made on their lives.

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The Legacy of Resistance: Nimura/Kashiwagi Family at Ireichō

I feel I have paid many times over for the position I took at Tule Lake.
Certainly, you don’t go around telling people you spent time at Tule Lake during the war.
You try to push that back somewhere and not think about it.
You try to block that part out of your life, but you have to live with it.

—Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Swimming in the American

Out of approximately 125,000 names of former detainees listed in Ireichō, more than 12,000 of them were once shunned and segregated at the often-maligned Tule Lake Segregation Center. For those who felt they …

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Coming Home: My Family’s Journey to Ireichō

And what we see is our life moving like that
along the dark edges of everything,
headlights sweeping the blackness,
believing in a thousand fragile and unprovable things.
Looking out for sorrow,
slowing down for happiness. . .

—Mary Oliver, “Coming Home”

It was like coming home when 17 sisters, cousins, grandchildren, and spouses, some who had traveled from different parts of the globe, met on the day after a large family reunion—this time to honor living and dead family members by placing hanko stamps on the names of those reverenced in Ireichō. With an immediate family of nine …

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A Humble Man: 442nd Veteran Hiroshi Kunimura Honored at Ireichō

When Dennis Kunimura suggested to his father, 98-year-old former 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) artilleryman Hiroshi Kunimura, that they drive from their home in Ogden, Utah, to Los Angeles, to mark the names in Ireichō of family members held at both the Salinas Assembly Center and the Poston Concentration Camp, the elder Kunimura did not expect the overwhelming reception that awaited him.

In fact, when the elderly soldier was welcomed by a three-man camera crew from Nippon TV, JANM executive director and CEO Ann Burroughs, Go for Broke president Mitch Maki, and a host of staff members, Kunimura scolded his …

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A Miraculous Family Gathering: Wasuke Hirota’s Mixed-Race Descendants Celebrate at Ireichō

The sound of joyful voices and poignant emotions echoed through JANM’s Aratani Hall when on April 27, 2023, some 50 family members of Hispanic, Native American, and Japanese descent gathered for the 150th birthday celebration of their Issei ancestor, Wasuke Hirota. Adults and children of all ages arrived from as nearby as Azusa, California, and as far away as Osaka, Japan, to pay their respects by stamping Ireichō, the sacred book in which the former detainee’s name was listed among some 125,000 others forced into mass detention.

Family members were also among the first to mark special amended …

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Living, Dying, and Passing It On—Alan Nishio Family at Ireichō

As Los Angeles skies began to clear after the first spell of frigid March rain, a three-generation family gathering was being held to mark Ireichō, the book as monument to those incarcerated during WWII. Convening the intimate get-together was a familiar face in the Nikkei community, someone celebrated for his decades of selfless leadership and commitment to such causes as Asian American studies, redress and reparations, Little Tokyo preservation, LGBTQ rights, youth empowerment, and more. After relinquishing years of key leadership of such Little Tokyo mainstay organizations as the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations (NCRR), Little Tokyo People’s Rights …

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442nd Regimental Combat Team Alan Nishio Chicago families family Heart Mountain Hiroshi Kashiwagi Hiroshi Kunimura incarcerations Ireicho ireicho Ireichō JANM Japanese American National Museum Manzanar concentration camps Mexican Americans Mexicans mixed marriages Poston resisters Salinas Assembly Center Tule Lake Segregation Center veterans Wasuke Hirota World War II