Free community performance and program commemorating the 80th anniversary of the wartime eviction of Japanese Americans in Tacoma

Washington State History Museum announcement.

Tacoma, WA – The Washington State Historical Society, writer and public historian Tamiko Nimura, and Tacoma Arts Live are teaming up to host a program commemorating the 80th anniversary of the forced eviction of Japanese and Japanese American people living in Tacoma. Free and open to all, Languages ​​of Memory: A South Sound Japanese American Day of Remembrance, will take place at the Washington State History Museum on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from 6:00-8:30 PM.

The South Sound Day of Remembrance marks the anniversary of the wartime eviction of more than 700 Japanese Americans from Tacoma on May 17 and 18, 1942. The anniversary is an opportunity for all to reflect on the historical connections and parallels between past and present.

Pierce College

The May 17 program at the History Museum begins with a screening of the play Nihonjin Face courtesy of Tacoma Arts Live, followed by a literary readings and performances, a walk through the museum’s REMEMBRANCE gallery, and a procession to Union Station – the departure point for the Japanese community in 1942. Guests are welcome to join part of all of the program.

Nihonjin Face, dramatizing the eviction and incarceration of Tacoma’s Japanese Americans, was written by Janet Hayakawa, education specialist at Densho, and Tere Martinez, a playwright and educator. Hayakawa will present a literary reading following the screening.

Tamiko Nimura, a creative nonfiction writer and public historian from Tacoma, will read from her memoir-in-progress, Pilgrimage: One Japanese American Daughter’s Journey through Grief, Memory, and History. The daughter of a Japanese American wartime incarceree, Nimura’s memoir explores the personal, historical, and psychological afterlife of Japanese American wartime incarceration.

The Diary of Anne Frank at Lakewood Playhouse


“I have been grateful to the Tacoma community for supporting my broader work in memory and Japanese American history,” said Nimura. “This is my most personal work. Ultimately, it is about the importance of healing in community—something that all of us need to consider.”

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and local Asian American writers will also read, including Nimura’s daughter Celia Nimura-Parmenter, and the internationally renowned performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali, an artist whose works investigate the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of her hybrid transnational identity. Guest presenters will read or perform their own works about memory.

After the screening and literary readings, guests will explore the museum’s REMEMBRANCE gallery. Participants will receive a handmade daruma (figure signifying Japanese resilience) by local artist Teruko Nimura, and will conclude by walking together to Union Station, the departure of Tacoma Japanese Americans 80 years ago, with brief remarks by local historian Michael Sullivan.

Edward Jones-Bart Dalton

No registration is needed and the program is free; entrance to the History Museum for the program begins at 5:45. Details: www.washingtonhistory.org/event/languages-of-memory/ or www.WashingtonHistory.org/events.

This program is presented by the Washington State Historical Society in partnership with Tamiko Nimura through her Tacoma Artist Initiative Program grant, funded by the Tacoma Arts Commission; and with Tacoma Arts Live, with funding support from Tacoma Creates and Columbia Bank. Additional support provided by the City of Tacoma Office of Historic Preservation.

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