Many members of the BIJAC family have had the opportunity to experience the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage, a road trip to Twin Falls, ID followed by a dusty ride crossing the Snake River and into farm country, where a watchtower stands guard at the entrance to the Minidoka National Historic Site in Jerome, ID. For some, the pilgrimage is a time to reflect on a grim episode in their own history during the WWII incarceration. A chance to meet up with old friends. A time to heal. For others, it is an eye-opening introduction to a dark time in American history.
In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, each of the annual pilgrimages to sites of wartime Japanese American incarceration have been canceled. These pilgrimages provide important educational and community-building opportunities for both descendants of the camps and the wider public. Recognizing the ongoing significance of these pilgrimages, a consortium (including the Minidoka Pilgrimage) has developed “Tadaima! A Community Virtual Pilgrimage” to take place this summer, hosted on the Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages (JAMP) website over the course of nine themed weeks.
What is the Virtual Pilgrimage?
According to the Minidoka Pilgrimage, ““Tadaima! A Community Virtual Pilgrimage” is a collaborative undertaking, involving representatives from many different contingents of the Nikkei community, as well as scholars, artists, and educators committed to actively memorializing the history of Japanese incarceration during World War II. “Tadaima!” means “I’m home!” in Japanese – it is our way of acknowledging that we are all home and the important reasons for why that is, while also celebrating the history, diversity, strength, and vibrancy of the Nikkei community. Rather than separate in-person site pilgrimages, “Tadaima!” will bring together many of the unique traditions from each site with new content – online exhibits, workshops, performances, lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, a community archive, and more – to create accessible and wide-ranging opportunities for learning, sharing stories, and building community. Spread across nine themed weeks, the Virtual Pilgrimage features pre-recorded and live-streamed content, as well as opportunities to engage with presenters and gather, virtually, as a community.”
From its inception, the planners of Tadaima! have been welcoming to BIJAC and its circle of friends and collaborators, acknowledging the significance of the story of the Japanese Americans of Bainbridge Island. During Week 2’s theme “Pre-War and Forced Removal,” Clarence Moriwaki presented his Humanities Washington talk on “Let It Not Happen: Lessons of the Japanese American Exclusion”, and photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr.’s Artist Talk featured his reunion photo (56:23) of mother and daughter Fumiko and Natalie Hayashida, whose iconic images at the Bainbridge Island ferry dock have come to symbolize the day of forced removal. Look for work by Bainbridge Island’s filmmaker, Lucy Ostrander of Stourwater Pictures, to be featured in future weeks of the Tadaima! Film Festival.
Tadaima! A Community Virtual Pilgrimage runs from June 13-August 16, 2020. Register now and look for the most current list of upcoming events at: https://www.jampilgrimages.com/virtualpilgrimageregistration.