Join San Jose JACL on a Pilgrimage to Manzanar

By Melanie Shojinaga

We are excited to announce the first San Jose JACL Manzanar Pilgrimage. This will be a 3-day journey beginning on Friday morning, April 26, 2019 until the evening of Sunday April 28th. This is a rare chance to experience the Japanese American World War II incarceration at Manzanar National Historic Park, the most well-preserved of the 10 major concentration camps.

We will depart by bus from San Jose on Friday morning and stay overnight at a hotel near the site. On Saturday the 27th, we will attend the ceremony that is planned each year by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the first Manzanar pilgrimage. We are honored to have the opportunity to join the commemoration.

Our pilgrimage will be modeled after a successful program that was planned in the past by three new San Jose JACL members: Melanie Shojinaga, Madison Tamichi, and Jenna Yonenaga. This team was responsible for a highly successful pilgrimage sponsored by the Florin JACL. They are modifying the program to suit our San Jose audience. The goals of this pilgrimage are to:

  • Educate the San Jose community about the Japanese American incarceration & redress movement

  • Stimulate thoughtful intergenerational and intercultural discussions

  • Learn the lessons from the past to encourage youth involvement with the San Jose JACL

  • Draw parallels between the struggles of JAs during WWII and Muslims today

  • Educate others on advocacy concerning the rights of Muslims, refugees, immigrants, and others today.

We are recruiting a diverse group of 25 people from among former camp detainees, Japanese American community members, Muslim Americans, youth, community educators, and those involved in civil and human rights today. Our interactive tour will include interesting bus activities, discussion groups, BBQ, cultural exchange among Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans, visit to the Manzanar National Historic Park Museum, short walking tour to the barracks/mess hall/latrine, program / interfaith ceremony with 1,000 others from LA, evening program run by college students, bowling night, and optional group dinners.

Registration to cover our costs for 2019 is estimated to be $250 per person (final cost TBD based on interest level). This will cover bus transportation, 2 nights hotel accomodations (double occupancy), lunch, snacks, and souvenir T-shirt.

Discounted registration will be made available for former WWII detainees and youth 25 and under. We are also seeking youth who would would like to join the planning committee as a Manzanar Ambassador.

As we gear up for the Pilgrimage, we would like to invite you to the SJ JACL Community Action Sessions held at the Issei Memorial Building (see article on page 5). These meetings will provide foundational information about the Japanese American Incarceration, the Japanese American Redress Movement, and CAIR projects.

In order to gauge interest and help with planning, please go to our website to fill out an interest form. If you have any questions, please contact Coordinator Melanie Shojinaga at

If you are up for a truly meaningful 3-day adventure plus meeting and sharing experiences with others, this pilgrimage is for you.

We hope that you’ll join us on this unique journey!