San Jose JACL Manzanar Pilgrimage

Our inaugural pilgrimage to Manzanar was a great success. The information in the paragraphs below describe details about our 2019 trip. We are already in the process of assessing the feasibility for 2020 pilgrimage. If you are interested in being added to the mailing list for a possible 2020 trip, please click on the button below to fill out an interest form.

2019 Pilgrimage (Archive)

Photo by Melanie Shojinaga

Photo 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.

For more information about the on-site program, please visit the Manzanar Committee website.

Our pilgrimage is 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 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 $250-300 per person (final cost TBD based on interest level). This will cover bus transportation, 2 nights hotel accommodations (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 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. 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!

Additional Trip Details

Please note that this is our first attempt at doing such an ambitious project and plans are still tentative. The final cost for the trip cannot be determined until after we gauge interest and receive deposits. We anticipate the final cost to be between $250-300 for adults 26 and older. This will include chartered bus transportation, 2 nights hotel accommodations (double-occupancy), as well as the costs of all programming. We anticipate that meals will also be an additional cost (on-your-own at eateries near the hotel, or via group bento-order). Details on meals will be provided at a later date.

We have applied for additional funding and will be soliciting donations to help provide partial scholarships for youth participants (25 and under) as well as to help lower costs for former incarcerees to attend.

Space is strictly limited, so in order to secure a place on this trip, we are asking for a deposit of $50 by Friday, February 22nd. This deposit is non-refundable, but may be transferred to another person if you are unable to attend. Because space is limited, we may have a waiting list.

We plan to announce our final plans and costs on Monday, February 25th. Final payments will be due on Friday, March 15th.


Friday, April 26th - We will be departing via chartered bus on Friday, February 26th at 9am. The exact meeting location(s) will be determined after we find out who is participating and where they live. We will have ice-breaker activities on the bus and during the 2 rest-stops along the way. We will arrive at about 6pm and stay overnight in Bishop, CA, which is approx 45 minutes north of Manzanar. You will have dinner on your own near the hotel. After dinner, we are planning a cultural exchange program.

Saturday, April 27th - We will depart the hotel at 9am for the 45-minute drive to Manzanar. After arriving, you will have some time to visit the museum and site on your own before the official program sponsored by the Manzanar Committee begins at 11:30am. The Manzanar Committee is an all-volunteer organization based in Los Angeles that has been planning this annual pilgrimage for 50 years. (For more information, please visit their website at: We will send you more details about their program as they become available.

Sunday, April 28th - We will depart the hotel at 9am and head back, again with 2 rest-stops along the way. At the rest-stops, and on the bus, our leaders will organize discussions so that we can debrief our experiences. We anticipate being back in San Jose by about 5pm.

Next Steps

Please note the following deadlines.

- ASAP: Click here to submit an interest form. (Required - it provides us with all of the necessary contact information)

- Fri, Feb 22nd: $50 deposit due.

- Mon, Feb 25th: Final costs announced.

- Fri, March 15th: Final payment due.


If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Shojinaga at

Thanks again for your interest in this exciting new program. Stay tuned for more information!

From your friends at San Jose JACL