March 2019
From Executive Director Tom Ikeda
Dear Friends,

When we launched Densho in the 1990s, we structured our oral history program to focus on “stories less told.” In particular, we were interested in stories pushed to the margins because they centered around people and topics that forced us to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths. We felt that if we looked for these lesser known stories, we would help create a more knowledgeable, authentic, and inclusive telling of the Japanese American story.

From the stories we’ve collected, I’ve come to realize that the driving force behind positive social change is usually the individuals at the center of those lesser known stories. People who have been silenced for their gender, their sexuality, their race, or multiple “different” identities. It’s with that in mind that I invite you to celebrate this Women’s History Month by reading about some of these powerful-but-unsung changemakers— Mia Yamamoto Yeiko Mizobe So Guyo Tajiri Tome Yasutake Cherry Kinoshita Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi , and  so many others .

In closing, a message to the men who read this: Since it’s us who benefit from the historical erasure of womxn, let’s work to create more spaces for these individuals to be heard and seen today. If you do not see women, trans, and nonbinary people in the rooms where decisions are being made—in boardrooms, editorial teams, selection committees, and other positions of leadership—let’s ask why not, and then work to change that. The world will become fairer and more equitable when everyone has an equal seat at the table.

In love and solidarity,
Happy  Women's History Month ! This month and every month we honor the badass Nikkei women—past, present, and future—who hold it down and lift us all up. We'll be sharing tales from Japanese American herstory all through March, so make sure to follow along on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter !

So far, we've featured profiles of trans lawyer and activist Mia Yamamoto and Issei anti-violence advocate Yeiko Mizobe So , and we've got more to come!

This uh-mazing image by Kiku Hughes is based on a photo of the women behind the radical Asian American Movement newsletter Gidra, from their 1971 Women’s Liberation issue. (Available in its entirety in the Densho archives.)
On March 30th, Nikkei activists and allies from across the country will convene in Dilley, Texas for a peaceful protest outside the South Texas Family Residential Center where some two thousand Central American women and children seeking lawful asylum are being confined.

Japanese Americans across the US have been asked to support this action by helping to create 10,000 tsuru to hang along the facility's fence as a sign of solidarity.

Two ways to participate:

>> Join Densho and friends next Monday, March 18th from 4:00-6:30 p.m. We'll gather with light snacks and beverages at the Densho office (1416 S. Jackson St.). Paper and folding instructions will be provided. Space is limited so please RSVP by emailing

Save the date for the 2019 Densho Dinner!
The Densho Dinner is our biggest gathering of Densho friends and supporters every year. In 2018, over 650 people attended including people from the Seattle area and beyond, business and nonprofit leaders, artists and authors, and multiple generations of families, some of whom used the Dinner as an opportunity to gather from across the country for a reunion!

How can you get involved?
  • Save the date to attend on Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Meydenbauer Convention Center in Bellevue, WA.
  • Gather relatives and attend as a family!
  • Donate items to our silent auction. We’re looking for everything from arts and culture experiences, travel packages to tickets to events and gift cards. Experiences outside of the Seattle area or Washington state are also highly desired as well!
  • Support the event through a corporate sponsorship.
  • Invite your friends, family and colleagues, and consider becoming a table captain!
  • Watch this space for updates and more details soon-to-come!
Thank you for all of your support and we hope you will join us on November 2nd. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Danielle Higa at .
Never Again is Now: The Art and Activism of
Millennial Nikkei, April 7 @ The Wing
How are millennials of Japanese ancestry honoring the legacy of their grandparents and great-grandparents who were incarcerated during World War II? Why is it important to tell this story of racial prejudice and civil liberties denied for generations to come? Seattle JACL and Densho invite you for an afternoon of art, live performance, and dialogue at Wing Luke museum. The event features spoken-word poetry by Troy Osaki and Kurt Yokoyama Ikeda; a presentation by photographer Kayla Isomura, creator of The Suitcase Project; and a performance by Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor and dancers, who will present an excerpt of “Farewell Shikata ga nai."

The discussion will include time for audience input and questions, and will be moderated by Nina Nobuko Wallace, Communications Coordinator for Densho.

Co-presented by Seattle JACL and Densho with special thanks to the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of WA and the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. Made possible by a Legacy Grant from JACL National.

>> Learn more .
Densho in the News
Day of Remembrance at JANM

Densho content director Brian Niiya led a Day of Remembrance panel discussion at JANM: “Before Japanese Americans were sent to concentration camps in 1942, they were immigrants who came to this country from Japan starting in the late 1800s,” he said. “As a racially distinct population that spoke a different language. They were easy targets and scapegoats for nativist and opportunistic politicians that portrayed them as dangerous, nefarious, inscrutable, and laws were soon passed restricting their immigration, prohibiting them from buying land or from becoming naturalized citizens."

“In recent years we’ve been hearing unsettling echoes of these stories using some of the same words — scapegoating, family separation, round-ups. So our panel today includes people who are taking the lead fighting back against these efforts in a variety of different ways.”

Read more:

Blog Highlights
Sansei: On Being Japanese American in a Time of Crisis

Guest post by Stanley N. Shikuma, adapted from a speech he delivered at the 2019 Day of Remembrance Taiko Fundraiser organized by the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee.

"Japanese American is how I was born and raised; it is who I am. It is my family and my community. I have always been proud of my heritage and comfortable in my own skin. I believe this comfort with my own identity has made it easier to appreciate and admire other cultures, countries, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities, and ways of life. It’s engendered a greater tolerance of diversity in my life—or maybe something more than mere tolerance."

>> Read more .

(Mural by Erin Shigaki of Purple Gate Design, installed in Seattle’s historic Nihonmachi in honor or the 2019 Day of Remembrance.)
How We Remember

Y’all killed it this  Day of Remembrance . We were so moved to see all the DOR posts, pictures, and family stories you shared on social media. This is the work we do every day and it brings so much joy to see the creative and passionate ways you all carry the story too. 

And, as it turns out, how we remember often inspires how we show up as advocates for justice today. Given our current political climate, it’s essential we keep the history of WWII incarceration alive and visible and we are so grateful to everyone committed to doing that work alongside us.

We published a roundup of some of the social media posts that gave us all the feels and left us inspired to continue speaking out. The folks included here are also engaged in a variety of scholarly and creative endeavors to keep the story alive so be sure to check out their work beyond these Instagram and Facebook posts.

>> Read more .