January 2019
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear Friends,

During the holidays I took a two-week break to relax, spend time with family, get in some exercise, and clear my mind. This is the longest break I’ve taken in my 23 years at Densho, and the time away gave me new insights about our work. During the break, my daughter Tani asked me what I thought the legacy of Densho would be and my answer surprised me. I used to think the legacy of Densho would be the vast online collections that we’ve preserved in perpetuity: thousands of interviews and hundreds of thousands of historic photographs and documents about the WWII Japanese American incarceration.

Instead, I told Tani that the legacy of Densho would be a vibrant community, sharing and keeping alive the Japanese American incarceration story. While the online resource we’ve created, visited by hundreds of thousands each year, is an invaluable tool, I recognize now that it is only the beginning. What I witness every day is that—perhaps more importantly—this resource serves as a strong foundation that has opened up ever expanding possibilities for learning, connecting, and working together.

With this insight, I look forward to this new year with a strengthened purpose. Not only will I and the staff at Densho connect with more people in more places, we will also create more opportunities for education and collaboration with our online platform, more programs for people to share their projects, ideas, and knowledge with friends, families, co-workers, and anyone else they want to reach.

As I look ahead to a new year full of new challenges, I am resolved to seek innovative ways for more people to engage and share the Japanese American story. If you have ideas, please share with me at tom.ikeda@densho.org and help me get started!


For the past two years Densho’s Day of Remembrance events have focused on learning about how our history is connected to the persecution of Muslim Americans today.This Day of Remembrance, we honor our history by moving from conversation to action.

Join Densho and CAIR Washington for a Bystander Intervention Training on Tuesday, February 19 from noon to 2 pm at the NVC Memorial Hall gym. Participants will learn non-violent communication techniques to de-escalate verbal harassment, as well as strategies for supporting victims of religious, racial, and other forms of harassment.
Pizza and beverages will be provided.

This event is free but space is limited so RSVP today!
Oral History Spotlight: Jim Matsuoka

Jim Matsuoka was seven years old when he was incarcerated with his family at Manzanar. He later became active in the anti-gentrification battles that swept through Los Angeles' Little Tokyo in the 1960s and 1970s, and was an integral figure in the Redress Movement. In this clip, he recalls organizing a special mochitsuki event to serve the elderly Issei who lived in the hotels and SROs threatened by redevelopment in Little Tokyo.

>> Watch now .
Blog Highlight: Japanese American Artists Behind Barbed Wire

Following the forced exile from the West Coast under Executive Order 9066, many incarcerated Japanese Americans turned to art as a way to cope with their harsh prison environment. Stripped of the routines that had filled their pre-war lives, inmates picked up creative hobbies to while away the idle hours of confinement, and painting and drawing soon became popular pastimes. We're fortunate to have several examples of these inmate-artists' work in our digital archives—head over the Densho Blog to see more!

Join Densho at the 2019 Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Densho is pleased to co-present " The Registry ," directed by Steve Ozone and William Kubota at SAAFF this year. The film follows M.I.S. veteran Seiki Oshiro as he works to share the story of the U.S. Military Intelligence Service, as well as all that they achieved and all that they endured. This film will screen alongside two shorts: " Rain or Shine: The Seike Japanese Garden ," directed by Corinne Chin and " Moving Walls ," directed by Sharon Yamato.

Saturday, Feb. 23 / 11 a.m. / Broadway Performance Hall

Los Angeles: "American Sutra" Book Event at JANM

Duncan Ryuken Williams, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest and Director of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, will speak about his new book, American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom During the Second World War , about the Japanese American Buddhist experience in the WWII incarceration camps.

Williams will explore questions of faith, identity, and resilience in the face of dislocation, loss, and uncertainty. He will also focus on the importance of upholding bedrock American values—religious freedom, tolerance, social and racial justice, and civil liberties—in our historical moment.

His presentation will be followed by comments and discussion with Brian Niiya (Densho Content Director), Naomi Hirahara (award-winning author and historian), and Valerie Matsumoto (UCLA Aratani Chair on the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community).

2019 Densho Digitization Internship

Densho is seeking an intern to support our digital repository projects through the following activities: digitizing a variety of materials, editing and performing quality control on digital images, transcribing documents, cataloging and indexing, data management in digital repository software, rights management, and other duties as needed.

The internship runs from February 2019 through July 2019 for a total of 500 hours at $15 an hour, no benefits. An average weekly schedule would consist of 20-25 hours of work, completed within Densho’s hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Apply by January 31, 2019.

On behalf of all of us at Densho, we are so glad to work hand-in-hand with you!

Your support—sharing your stories, networking, donating historical artifacts, and donating financially—allows Densho to continue preserving, sharing, educating, and collaborating on projects about the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. In particular, your year-end gifts enabled us to fulfill our 2018 budget obligations. 

Densho is a small but mighty non-profit. The current political climate is a reminder that we do matters, and we could not do this work without you. Thank you.