Manzanar offers extended ‘virtual pilgrimage’

Manzanar offers extended ‘virtual pilgrimage’Manzanar National Historic Site will join other National park Service sites and Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages as a part of “Tadaima: A community Virtual Pilgrimage” held through Aug. 16.

The program will run continuously for nine weeks, with new content provided daily. Access is free and open to the public, available at www.jampilgrimages.com.

“Due to COVID-19, pilgrimage organizers across the country cancelled on-site events in the interest of public health and safety,” said a spokesperson of Manzanar, which traditionally holds a pilgrimage in April.

“Through the leadership of Hanako Wakatsuki, Chief of Visitor Services at Minidoka National Historic Site in Jerome, Idaho, the NPS has collaborated with 40 Japanese American organizations nationwide, as well as international partners, and other institutions. Denshō, Japanese American National Museum, Japanese Arts Network, Friends of Minidoka, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, and Full Spectrum Features are represented on the steering committee.”

A full list of partner organizations can be found at www.jampilgrimages.com/partner-organizations.

A new theme — from immigration in the 1800s to redress in the 1980s — will be introduced each week. In addition to the ten War Relocation Authority sites, the pilgrimage explores the incarceration of the Japanese diaspora under different types of detention in the United States, Canada, and across the world.

For those who wish to explore the actual Manzanar site, the auto tour road, gardens, and cemetery remain accessible. Visitors may explore the site on foot, provided that they do not disturb or collect anything.

They must bring their own drinking water and carry out their trash. All facilities remain closed until further notice.

Virtual visitors may explore at www.nps.gov/manz, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. The Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association offers a selection of books, videos, jewelry, and other items to support Manzanar fundraising efforts at https://www.esiaonline.org/shop/manzanar-merchandise/2.

Pictured: A memorial at Manzanar National Historic Site, pictured against a stormy Sierra Nevada. — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-07-31