Upcoming Events

AAPI Authors Humanizing Our History: A Conversation with Julie Otsuka & Tom Ikeda

The AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin presents a special virtual event with Julie Otsuka in conversation with Tom Ikeda. Otsuka is the author of the award-winning novel When the Emperor Was Divine, which tells the story about the incarceration of a Japanese American family during World War II.

In this webinar, Otsuka will be interviewed by Tom Ikeda, the founding director of Densho, an online archive and public history organization that has documented stories, since its founding in 1996, about Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII. They will discuss the art of writing the novel itself as well as Otsuka and Ikeda’s family’s experiences in the WWII camps.

While this novel was originally published in 2002, it gained renewed prominence this June when the Muskego-Norway School Board in Wisconsin rejected a request by their teacher-led curriculum committee to fund the novel for use in a 10th grade English class. This issue has been well-covered by local, regional, and national press ever since local Muskego parents and students spoke out against the school board’s action this spring. In July, 150 members of the Muskego community and the AAPI Coalition of WI stood together at our Muskego Community Teach-In supporting this novel.

The issue is not only about this novel. It is about how our K-12 teachers’ professional judgement is being overruled by people who are uncomfortable with dealing with the truthful representation of our nation’s history, particularly when told by authors of color. Asian American history is American History.

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2022 Densho Virtual Gala

You're invited to the Densho Gala: November 2, 2022 @ 5pm PT / 8pm ET

Join us for an evening of art, conversation, and community as we celebrate our collective power to keep Japanese American history alive now and in the future. In addition to paying tribute to outgoing director Tom Ikeda, we’ll introduce Densho’s new Executive Director Naomi Ostwald Kawamura, highlight emerging artists, and honor the elders whose stories are at the heart of all that we do.

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Past Events

Introducing the 1950 U.S. Federal Census

Did you lose track of your family after resettlement? Do you wonder where they lived in the years following their release from incarceration? Are you curious to find yourself in the most recently released census? Researching census records is critical for every family historian, but the 1950 census is particularly powerful for Japanese Americans.

The 1950 U.S. Census was publicly released on 1 April 2022, 72 years after it was enumerated. Genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki will show you how to find the 1950 census, help you to understand the nuances of the data, and share strategies for locating your relatives.

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Daniel James Brown and Tom Ikeda discuss “Facing the Mountain”

Best-selling author Daniel James Brown will talk with Densho's Executive Director Tom Ikeda and Michael Shiosaki about Brown's latest book, "Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II." From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and resistance, focusing on four Japanese American men and their families, and the contributions and sacrifices that they made for the sake of the nation.

This event is being presented in person at Central Library, with the option to view the livestream from home. It is presented in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Company and Densho. Books will be available for sale at Central Library on the evening of the event, and signed copies may be available from Elliott Bay Book Company after the program.

This event is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation.

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Collage of chinatown photos and news articles. Text reads

The Truth Is Not Always Pretty: A Radical History and Zine Making Workshop

We’re partnering with the Wing Luke Museum to offer a free, hands-on zine-making workshop for high school students on Sunday, July 10. Using the radical Asian American newsletter Gidra — and its mission statement, “Truth is not always pretty, not in this world” — as our guiding force, we’ll dive into the history of the Asian American movement and create artwork to reflect on the power of art, activism, and solidarity. Students will learn about Sound Transit’s planned light rail expansion and the threats it poses to Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, as well as some anti-displacement organizing history and how to put those lessons into action today.

Youth in King County are invited to join us at Densho’s Seattle office on July 10 for a free lunch at 11am followed by a two-hour workshop from 12-2pm. The workshop will be outdoors (weather permitting) or indoors in a well-ventilated space, and masks are required.

Participants who verify proof of vaccination can receive a $150 stipend for their participation. This workshop is funded, in part, by 4Culture and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

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Event graphic with headshots of Brian Niiya and Grace Shimizu. Text:

Preserving Our Voices for the Future – Remembering the Legacy of Japanese American Incarceration

In honor of AAPI Heritage month, Democrats Abroad AAPI Global Caucus, the Global Black Caucus, and the Reparations Task Force will host a discussion about the importance of preserving the legacy of Japanese American incarceration. This event coincides with what would have been the 101st birthday of Japanese American activist Yuri Kochiyama and also the 97th birthday of Malcom X, who worked closely together in bridging Asian American and Black American civil and human rights. Densho Content Director Brian Niiya will appear in conversation with Grace Shimizu, Director of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project and Coordinator of the Campaign for Justice: Redress NOW for Japanese Latin Americans!

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Mary Kageyama, Song Bird of Manzanar, and her younger sister, Tillie, at the piano, have relocated in Pasadena. Takejiro Noguchi, Issei from Gila River, being greeted on arrival at the Pasadena Hostel. The Sierra Co-Op Service, the service station and garage operated by Joe Nawa and John Oshima at 250 Mary Street, Pasadena. Photos courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Text: “Untold Stories of Post-Camp Pasadena. Bryan Takeda, Naomi Hirahara, and Brian Niiya. May 10, 12pm PDT, virtual.”

Untold Stories of Post-Camp Pasadena 

In September of 1944, Esther Takei Nishio became the first “test case” of a Japanese American to return to the West Coast following her incarceration at the Amache, Colorado, concentration camp. She made Pasadena, California her home — and hundreds of others followed after her. Drawing upon recent oral histories, panelists will share little known stories of Pasadena’s postwar Japanese American population boom. In addition to Esther’s story, we’ll hear about a hostel that became a mecca for displaced Nikkei families, the turbulent process of desegregating all-white neighborhoods, and a local group of white supporters — Friends of the American Way — that aimed to help Japanese Americans rebuild their lives after camp.

Join historians Bryan Takeda, Naomi Hirahara, and Brian Niiya on May 10 at noon PDT for this enlightening conversation. This event will be held on Zoom and is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by Densho, this activity is funded, in part, by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

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Japanese Latin Americans hold suitcases in a line while a soldier holds a gun.

“You Brought Us Here”: The Plight of Japanese Peruvians in World War II U.S. Incarceration

To complement the February 18-May 29, 2022 exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Milwaukee, Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties, CLACS has organized parallel programming to tell the stories of Japanese Latin American populations during the same time period. Hear from Densho's Natasha Varner about the plight of Japanese Peruvians in World War II U.S. incarceration.

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Day of Remembrance Logo

Day of Remembrances and the Japanese American Community

As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the signing of EO 9066, we must also take time to celebrate how the community has reclaimed this date to seek justice. Frank Abe helped organize the first Day of Remembrance in Seattle in 1978 with Frank Chin and Henry Miyatake, sparking a wave of such events across the country. These events became the center of the movement to demand an apology and monetary redress from the federal government. In this panel, Frank Abe and other early organizers will discuss the evolution of these events. Historian Brian Niiya and JACL Executive Director David Inoue will reflect on the legacy of the Day of Remembrance, and discuss its role in the Japanese American community today.

Moderator: Erin Aoyama

Speakers: Frank Abe (writer, historian); Susan Hayase (San Jose Nikkei Resisters); David Inoue (JACL); Brian Niiya (Densho)

Watch the panel live on Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages’ YouTube channel.

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Emerging Radiance by Michelle Kumata

Emerging Radiance: Honoring the Nikkei Farmers of Bellevue

Join Emerging Radiance artist Michelle Kumata, creative director Tani Ikeda, and Densho founding director Tom Ikeda for a live Day of Remembrance broadcast. The program will highlight the stories of Bellevue’s Nikkei farmer community, introduce descendants of the farmers depicted in artist Michelle Kumata’s Emerging Radiance mural, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at the installation at Bellevue Arts Museum.

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Remember and Resist Day of Remembrance EO 9066 80th Anniversary 1942-2022

REMEMBER and RESIST Day of Remembrance

Most Japanese Americans in the Seattle area spent their first few months in detention at the Puyallup Fairgrounds (“Camp Harmony”) until their transfer to the concentration camps at Minidoka, ID, and Tule Lake, CA. The trauma of family separation, child imprisonment, poor sanitation, bad food, inadequate health care, and uncertain futures persists—and continues today at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Join Tsuru for Solidarity, Seattle JACL, Puyallup JACL, Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Densho, and La Resistencia for a car rally at the Puyallup Fairgrounds and NWDC. Together, we will Remember and Resist these past and present injustices.

Details: At 10 am, meet at the Puyallup Fairgrounds (Blue Lot Parking, 311 10th Ave SE, Puyallup, WA 98372). At 11 am, we will move to the Northwest Detention Center (1623 E J Street, Tacoma WA 98421) for a continuation of the program starting at 12 pm. Weather permitting, there will be some outdoor programming. Masks and social distancing required.

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Lemonade by Lauren Iida

Lauren Iida | Citizen’s Indefinite Leave

ArtXchange Gallery presents Citizen’s Indefinite Leave, a new series of intricate paper cutaways by Lauren Iida incorporating historical scenes from the unjust incarceration of 126,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the USA during World War II. With the assistance from Seattle-based organization, Densho, Iida was able to dive deeper into her own family’s history and create a narrative exhibition that explores questions of citizenship, belonging and home. With access to Densho’s vast digital archives and personal assistance from their archivists and historians, as well as her family’s personal collection of photos, Iida created works with references to real places and real people, blending them with surreal painted backgrounds and dreamlike characters that embody the fears, anxieties and hopes of the time.

The narrative thread running throughout Iida’s exhibition is the story of Clara, the older sister of Iida’s grandmother. While investigating her family’s personal archives, Iida came across Clara’s “indefinite leave” pass, giving her early release privileges from Tule Lake, CA where she was incarcerated. The artworks in Citizen’s Indefinite Leave pay homage to the struggle of Iida’s grandparents and great-grandparents and explores how the trauma of this era has influenced her own relationship with her Japanese American cultural heritage. Iida writes, “Having been robbed of my cultural heritage by the unjust incarceration of my ancestors, and the subsequent lack of education they were able to offer me as a child, I have had to turn to historical artifacts to learn about my own ethnic roots as an adult, through my own art-making process and research.”

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Organizing Your Family History Research

Organizing Your Family History Research with Linda Harms Okazaki

Researching your family history is a labor of love. But do you sometimes feel like you are drowning under a pile of paper, have no idea what to do with all of your findings, or can’t even find those records on your hard drive? There are as many ways to organize your data as there are researchers. The only “right” way to organize your genealogy is to do it in a way that you will consistently follow!

In this latest webinar in Densho’s Family History series, genealogist Linda Harms Okazaki will help you tackle that growing mountain of data. She will share strategies to help you start your research, keep track of your findings, and establish naming conventions for both digital and paper files. Join us on January 20th at 11am Pacific.

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Memory Net Remembrance Project

Memory Net Remembrance Project

In recognition of the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, Densho is launching a new community art initiative: the Memory Net Remembrance Project. Together with Densho resident artist Lauren Iida, we invite submissions of “memory objects” that symbolize hope, strength, and/or resistance for you or your ancestors during WWII Japanese American incarceration.

Lauren will select from these objects to incorporate into a 30-foot-long cut paper net to be hung as a semi-permanent installation in Densho’s community room. Please join us in this powerful act of remembrance! The Memory Net will be unveiled on February 19th at 3pm PST.

Support for this event comes from the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation.

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Densho Anniversary Gala: 25 Years of Story

2021Twenty-five years ago, Densho started documenting oral histories from Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. With the support of our incredible community, we have grown from a...
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Tadaima Panel - Mystery After Manzanar

Tadaima! Mystery After Manzanar: A Conversation Between Naomi Hirahara and Brian Niiya

Author Naomi Hirahara appeared in conversation with Densho’s Brian Niiya to discuss her new mystery novel, Clark and Division. Set in 1944 Chicago, Clark and Division follows the story of...
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J-Town Tadaima

Tadaima! J-Town Is Not for Sale: Displacement and Community Resilience in Japantown

Japantowns, or nihonmachi, have been important cultural and community hubs for generations of Japanese Americans and others who live, work, and find connection in J-town. Shaped by a history of...
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Sites of Shame Virtual Launch

On July 28 we hosted the Sites of Shame virtual launch event! This innovative new mapping tool from Densho gives users an unprecedented view of the landscapes and dislocations of...
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Facing the Mountain by Daniel James Brown

Facing the Mountain: Virtual Book Launch Event

On May 11, 2021, Densho hosted the official book launch of Facing the Mountain, a new book about WWII Japanese American incarceration and the 442nd RCT by Daniel James Brown, NY Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat. The virtual event featured a conversation between Brown and Densho Executive Director Tom Ikeda, who has conducted oral histories with many of the men highlighted in the book. Facing the Mountain grew out of conversations Brown had with Ikeda in 2015.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese American families and their sons. While some fought on battlefields as members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, others fought to defend the constitutional rights of a community. Regardless of where their battles played out, these individuals were exemplifying American patriotism under extreme duress by striving, resisting, standing on principle, and enduring.

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Unexpected Sites of WWII Incarceration

Many of us are familiar with the ten major concentration camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII, and maybe even some of the dozens of other Department of Justice-run...
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Nisei Radicals: A Book Launch and Conversation with Diane Fujino and Mitsuye Yamada

In her new book, Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake, Diane Fujino reveals a radical lineage of Japanese American activism through the lives of...
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Tsuru for Solidarity Day of Remembrance Car Caravan

On February 21, 2021, Tsuru for Solidarity, La Resistencia, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, Seattle JACL, and Puyallup Valley JACL came together for a car caravan from the Puyallup Fairgrounds...
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Why the Lessons of the WWII Incarceration Still Matter Today: A Conversation with Dale Minami

What Constitutional rights were promised to Japanese Americans during World War II? Why weren’t these promises kept and protected? What forces weaken the protections of the Constitution? What can you...
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Week of Action and Remembrance

This year we mark the anniversary of Executive Order 9066 with a full week of action and remembrance. Join us each day between February 14th and 21st as we dig deeper into...
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Untold Stories of Nikkei New York

In his new book, “The Unsung Great: Stories of Extraordinary Japanese Americans,” scholar and journalist Greg Robinson showcases the lives and achievements of relatively unknown but remarkable people in Nikkei...
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