For The North American Post
The question “Does the hotel in the novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” really exist?” is where my podcast mini-series “beyond generations” started. It was in September 2021, when I had just come to Seattle to study at a university. I was deciding on a project theme for an audio-storytelling class in my first quarter. Back then, I knew little about the incarceration except that I vaguely remembered a hotel that I had read about in the novel where Japanese Americans in Seattle left some of their belongings in its basement before being sent to the WWII incarceration camps. I was not even sure if the hotel was fictional or actually existed. When I found out that the Panama Hotel does exist in Nihonmachi, Japantown, in the International District of Seattle, and is still keeping the unclaimed belongings of former incarcerees, I knew it would be the centerpiece for my audio-story and became episode 1 of my podcast.
As I crafted the Panama Hotel story and learned more about the incarceration, I also found out how few people in Seattle know about the incarceration. They are just like myself, even though it is part of the city’s history. At the same time, I got to know people in Seattle who have been trying to raise awareness about JA incarceration so that it will never happen again.
In my podcast, you will hear people talk about what JA incarceration during WWII means to them and how they have been working to connect this American history to the present and future. They include Jan Johnson, owner of the Panama Hotel, Theresa Mudrock, a history librarian at the University of Washington, and Erin Shigaki, an artist and activist.
There are excellent podcasts on WWII JA incarceration which tell the history and the experiences of the incarceration in detail. However, there have not been ones focusing on what people today are doing so that we can learn from it, so that the history will not repeat itself, not just for JAs but for all people.
This is what “beyond generations” does and why it is not like other podcasts. I want my podcast to help people in Seattle and beyond gain knowledge about the incarceration and think about it in the context of today’s race-based hate and discrimination. I want them to consider what actions we can take to support communities that suffer.
“beyond generations” is a three-episode podcast series produced and hosted by me, Monica, an international student from Japan. My goal is to raise more awareness about the incarceration as I take on a journey of discovery myself and motivate people to take action to prevent it from happening again.
Monica (she/her) came to Seattle to study Communications where she fell in love with audio-storytelling. “beyond generations” is her first podcast series. Outside of audio-storytelling, she enjoys hiking and practicing karate.