Exhibitions like Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration are made possible by the dedicated efforts of family and community members who have preserved and researched their family’s histories and the objects, images, and documents that tell these stories.
Join us as we learn from Dr. Gail Y. Okawa, Mitch Homma, Elizabeth Nishiura, and Laura Dominguez-Yon about their families and the efforts they’ve made to record and share their stories and preserve the unique and rare objects that are featured in Sutra and Bible. Nancy Ukai, Project Director of 50 Objects, will moderate the conversation.
The catalog for Sutra and Bible and Remembering Out Grandfathers’ Exile by Gail Y. Okawa are available for purchase from the JANM Store online and in person. Participants will be available to sign books after the program.
A California native Laura's first home was Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs where her parents went directly after leaving WRA Confinement at Poston, AZ. They were able to live and work there for 10 years, which easily accommodated the growing family. 70 years later, Laura is a Uniformed Volunteer for California State Parks who now owns the former resort. Here, she is able to draw on her 30 years experience as an Educator developing programs and researching events and people associated with the place.
When not working on Gilroy Hot Springs topics, Laura is delving into genealogical records for both her own family records and now her husband's early California Chinese American heritage.
Mitch Homma (Amache Alliance - President & American Baptist Historical Society Board of Managers)
Mitch Homma is a sansei (3rd generation) who grew up and still resides in Southern California. In addition to working as an aerospace engineer, his interests include Japanese history and Christianity in Japan. He grew up attending Gardena Valley Baptist Church and Seattle Japanese Baptist Church where his great grandparents and grandparents served. Mitch is serving on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Amache Alliance supporting the preservation of the Amache National Historic Site. He also volunteer Board of Managers with the American Baptist Historical Society.
His family’s Baptist History goes back four generations to the churches his Great-Grandfather, Rev. Masahiko Wada, started in Japan around 1910. The family’s photo and document collection covers their missionary work in Japan and Manchuria, Korea, and Siberia before coming to the USA as Baptist missionary. The American Baptist brought the family to the USA in 1928 during the Alien Exclusion Act to start Baptist churches in Southern California.
His family members loved photography which aided in the preservation and documentation of family’s history. Grandfather Homma was a dentist and USC sports photographer. He would bring his cameras to Amache as dental equipment. Uncle Yorozu Homma’s Chair from Heart Mountain is one of the JANM Eaton Collection artifacts. The Amache Memorial designed by great grandfather, Rev. Wada, is a part of the current Sutra and Bible exhibit at JANM.
Elizabeth Nishiura (she/her) is a self-employed editor, specializing in STEM and social sciences publishing. She has a BA from Yale University, where she majored in political science, and an MA in government from Cornell University. A great-granddaughter of Shinzaburo Nishiura, Elizabeth contributed an essay to the Sutra and Bible catalog on the Aso Obutsudan, which Shinzaburo built at Heart Mountain with his brother, Gentaro Nishiura. Elizabeth lives in Chicago, where she enjoys taking photos of birds, squirrels, coyotes, and other urban wildlife.
Dr. Gail Okawa
Dr. Gail Y. Okawa is professor emerita of English, Youngstown State University-Ohio. Interested in the relationships among language/literacy, culture, and race in historical, political, and educational contexts, she has published articles in national journals and collections and has presented papers and lectures nationally and internationally. As a scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution in 2002, she began researching the politics of literacy, identity, and culture among Japanese immigrants from Hawai`i, including her maternal grandfather, imprisoned in US Justice/War Department internment camps, culminating in Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile: US Imprisonment of Hawai`i’s Japanese in World War II (University of Hawai`i Press, 2020).