A look at the pre-World War II Japanese American community in the South Sound will be the subject of a Washington State History Museum exhibit that opens Saturday.
The opening of the exhibit, “Filled with Grace-Japanese Americans in the South Sound,” will include a symposium featuring speakers, readings and performances. Named for a line of poetry written by a detainee in 1942, the exhibit will be on display at the museum through May 21.
This month 75 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans throughout the West Coast, claiming they posed a threat to national security.
The bitter ordeals I have sufferedOne after anotherAs I rememberNow without sorrowFilled with grace.
Teiko “Yukari” Tomita (1896-1990)
“A look at the prewar history of Washington’s Japanese American community reveals a vibrant, integrated and thriving culture that was cut short by the executive order,” Jennifer Kilmer, director of the Washington State Historical Society, said in a prepared statement. “These U.S. citizens were farmers, merchants, loggers, oyster harvesters, hoteliers, and more. That all changed in 1942 when they were unjustly incarcerated.”
Kilmer said the symposium and exhibit will provide a deep look at those events, as well as life before the war.
The exhibit will include artifacts, memorabilia, photos and illustrations. The museum also has recreated a room, with its spartan belongings, from one of the houses where internees were kept at Camp Harmony (now the Washington State Fair Events Center).
“It’s a stifling little room with slat walls, a steel bed and a straw mattress. Just being in the room conjures up emotions for any visitor,” said Erich Ebel, marketing and communications director for the society.
The opening-day symposium commemorates the Day of Remembrance and kicks off the exhibit from noon-5 p.m. Saturday. A collaboration between the state history society and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, the symposium will include a performance of the play “Nihonjin Face” by the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, displays, exhibit tours, featured presenters, readings and reflections, taiko drumming by Okinawa Kenjinkai Chijinshuu of Washington State, and “Within the Silence,” a multimedia presentation by Living Voices of Seattle. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony, presented by Masaye Okano Nakagawa, will be limited to the first 40 people.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640
Filled with Grace-Japanese Americans in the South Sound
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, from Saturday through May 21.
Where: Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma.
Admission: $12 for adults; $8 for seniors, students and military veterans with ID; and free for children 4 and younger or museum members. Patrons with a Washington Quest card can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family. Admission is free after 2 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month when the museum stays open until 8 p.m.