This past Saturday, we celebrated Densho’s 25th anniversary at a very special event. Nearly 800 households tuned in for a live show featuring music, dance, art, and story. (Don’t worry, you can still watch it here if you missed it!) Densho Founding Executive Director Tom Ikeda shares some highlights from this virtual gala, and a note of gratitude for the tremendous community support that helped us make it to this major milestone.

Densho’s 25th Anniversary Gala was an unforgettable celebration of our past, present, and future. Days later, I’m still feeling buoyed by the warmth and energy that filled the room all night. It was beautiful to begin the event watching Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor lead a dance troupe in an original dance based on story; to have the energy and intelligence that traci kato-kiriyama and Sean Miura brought as hosts; to be mesmerized by the power of Miya Folick’s original song; and to watch heartfelt and thought-provoking conversations between Miya Sommers, Gerry and Gail Nanbu, Lauren Iida, and Naomi Fina. 

At the start of the night, we set our sights on Densho’s highest fundraising goal ever, aiming to raise $1 million for our 25th anniversary. I’m thrilled to report that we surpassed that goal, bringing in a total of $1,016,247!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this incredible show of support. Densho’s work and our commitment to preserving and sharing the WWII Japanese American story to promote justice and equity exists because of you, our community.

Below are a few highlights from the Densho Anniversary Gala: 25 Years of Story. (Watch the full recording of the event here.) I hope you enjoy these powerful performances and intergenerational conversations as much as we do — and here’s to the next 25 years of Densho!

With deep gratitude,

Tom Ikeda, Densho Founding Executive Director

Dance Performance: “From Issei to Rokusei”

Choreographer Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor, along with dancers Sarah Baker, Hailey Bortel, Siena Dumas, Truong Nguyen, Fumi Murakami, Sarah Sakurazawa, and Ayako Shapiro perform “From Issei to Rokusei.” 

Shareable link here.

Singer-Songwriter Miya Folick

Miya Folick, an accomplished Yonsei songwriter, performs an original song that underscores the power of voice and story. 

Shareable link here.

Kitchen Table Conversation with Miya Sommers and Gerry and Gail Nanbu

Gosei organizer Miya Sommers and Sansei activists and genealogy enthusiasts Gerry and Gail Nanbu discuss the important work of keeping memories of WWII incarceration history alive, how these stories can inspire activism today, and the power of intergenerational solidarity. 

Shareable link here.

We’ll be sharing additional highlights soon, so stay tuned for more!

By Tom Ikeda, Densho Founding Executive Director

[Header image: Gabrielle Kazuko Nomura Gainor and dancers rehearsing their performance on the stage at Densho’s 25th Anniversary Gala]