Home Community State History Museum Features South Sound Nikkei Experience

State History Museum Features South Sound Nikkei Experience

Washington State History Museum displays life of Camp Harmony. Photo by Shihou Sasaki/ The North American Post

By Shihou Sasaki

The community has presented various events commemorating the 75th anniversary of Japanese American mass removal under Executive Order 9066. A featured exhibit, “Filled with Grace: Japanese Americans in the South Sound,” at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma shows Nikkei history in the South Puget Sound area.

The exhibit includes the early years of immigration including farming around the Puyallup and Fife valley, building of the Nihonmachi community and mass-removal and incarceration. Another separate room displays life and equipment used at the Puyallup Assembly Center, called “Camp Harmony,” at the current Washington State Fair ground. About 7,500 Nikkei around the Seattle area were forced to stay from late spring of 1942 until summer when they were sent out to the incarceration camps.

“Four years later, the Puyallup Fair returned to the fairgrounds. Most of the physical remnants of Camp Harmony are now gone, but the memories linger for those who once called it home,” the museum display explains.

The commemoration ceremony will be held this September at the state fair ground.

A Nihonmachi community in Tacoma was built around the northwest corner of the University of Washington Tacoma campus and its neighborhood. Like other Japantowns, this community was where people shared experiences at Christian and Buddhist churches, Uwajimaya was founded, and children attended the Japanese language school.

The University of Washington recognized the history of Japanese Americans in the Tacoma area in 2014 with an unveiling of the memorial monuments at the corner of 17th Street and Pacific Avenue on the school campus.

The “Filled with Grace: Japanese Americans in the South Sound” exhibit will run through May 21. For more information, visit www.washingtonhistory.org. More events related to the 75th anniversary of Japanese American mass-incarceration can be found on the calendar page.