UCLA Kyodo Taiko will perform at the 46th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Manzanar Committee, scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, located on U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles.
The theme for this year’s pilgrimage is “Watashi wa Manzanar: Continuing Our Civil Rights Legacy.” “Watashi wa” is Japanese for “I am.”
Each year, over 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds, including students, teachers, community members, clergy and former incarcerees attend the pilgrimage, which commemorates the unjust imprisonment of over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in ten American concentration camps, located in the most desolate, isolated regions of the United States. Manzanar was the first of these camps to be established.
UCLA Kyodo Taiko, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is the first collegiate taiko group in North America. They made their debut at the opening ceremony of UCLA’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Japanese American Internment, which was held in 1992.
Led by 2014-15 directors Clara Takahashi, Kendall Tani and Vivian Vo, UCLA Kyodo Taiko is composed entirely of UCLA students. They have performed annually at local K-12 schools, Nisei Week, Los Angeles Tofu Festival and the Lotus Festival in Los Angeles, the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational, during halftime at UCLA basketball games, as well as the first annual USA Sumo Open, in addition to many other campus, community and private events.
UCLA Kyodo Taiko has also become a fertile training ground for those who wish to continue with taiko after their college careers end, as many Kyodo alumni have become members of professional taiko groups, including Nishikaze Taiko Ensemble, TaikoProject and Progressive Taiko (Prota).
The afternoon program will feature speakers, including keynote speaker Satsuki Ina, Ph.D., the traditional interfaith service, and ondo dancing.
In addition to the daytime program, the popular Manzanar At Dusk program follows that same evening, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 S. Main St. (U.S. Highway 395) in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site, across the street from McDonald’s.
Manzanar At Dusk is co-sponsored by the Nikkei Student Unions at Cal State Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, and UC San Diego.
Through a creative presentation, small group discussions, and an open mic session, Manzanar At Dusk participants will have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of those incarcerated in the camps. Participants will also be able to interact with former incarcerees, and/or their relatives, to hear their stories, to share their own experiences, and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.
Pilgrimage participants are advised to bring their own lunch, drinks and snacks as there are no facilities to purchase food at the Manzanar National Historic Site (restaurants and fast food outlets are located in Lone Pine and Independence). Water will be provided.
Both the daytime program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public.
For more information, check the Manzanar Committee’s official blog at http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org, call (323) 662-5102, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the Manzanar Committee on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ManzanarCommittee) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/manzanarcomm).