Former Japanese American Incarcerees Talk About Their Lives Behind Barbed Wire at Special Program Featuring Screening of Documentary, Moving Walls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 22, 2019

Press contact: Sharon Yamato, (310) 922-6525

Former Japanese American Incarcerees Talk About Their Lives Behind Barbed Wire at Special Program Featuring Screening of Documentary, Moving Walls

Former WWII Japanese American detainees Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Yae Wada, both in their 90s will join filmmaker Sharon Yamato and photojournalist Stan Honda in a special presentation at San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium that focuses on the WWII camp experience, Saturday, Sept. 7, at 2 pm. Civil rights activist and attorney Don Tamaki will serve as moderator.

Kashiwagi is an award-winning poet, actor, memoirist, and playwright who was a librarian at San Francisco Public Library for 25 years. He was incarcerated as a teenager at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, a camp designated for those who refused to answer affirmatively to the so-called “loyalty questionnaire” that was instituted by the U.S. government. Branded disloyal, he spent years fighting for his citizenship back after renouncing it during the war. Also serving on the panel is Yae (Katanayagi) Wada, a 99-year-old retiree currently residing in Berkeley, who recently spoke for the first time publicly about suffering a miscarriage during the war while temporarily housed in a horse stall at the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno.

The program will begin with a screening of Yamato’s film, Moving Walls, a documentary short that focuses on what happened at one of the Japanese American incarceration sites after the war when hundreds of barracks were sold for a dollar apiece to veterans-turned-homesteaders. Both film and an accompanying book chronicle the history of these barracks as they went from the Heart Mountain concentration camp to the Wyoming homestead. Because the buildings at this camp were distributed widely after the war, they can be seen today throughout the Park County area surrounding the camp. One of the buildings that survived is now permanently exhibited at the Japanese American National Museum and represents the largest and most important visual artifact from the confinement period. Yamato recorded the histories of those who lived in the barracks during the war and followed the aftermath of the hastily constructed buildings built to imprison more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry.

Award-winning New York photographer Stan Honda is renowned for his coverage of September 11, and two of his photos are featured in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Currently known for his night sky photography, he remains committed to furthering the incarceration story partially based on his own family’s experience of being held at a camp in Poston, Arizona. His photos are featured in the film’s accompanying book, Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps, and are currently on display at the Military Intelligence Service Historic Learning Center at the Presidio in an exhibition sponsored by SF’s National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS) through Sept.30.

Both Yamato and Honda will also be conducting a gallery talk at the MIS Learning Center at 640 North Mason Street at the Presidio on the morning preceding the program, Sept.7, at 11 a.m.

This project was funded by the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program for the year 2014-2015, it was published under the fiscal sponsorship of Visual Communications, Inc. Additional funds for the screening and panel discussion were provided by the California State Library’s California Civil Liberties Public Education Program.

For more information on this program, contact Sharon Yamato at sharony360@gmail.com.

Moving Walls – September 7, 2 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.