The Tule Lake Committee on Nov. 1 issued the following statement on the passing of Hiroshi Kashiwagi (1922-2019):
With Hiroshi Kashiwagi’s passing, we have lost a giant.
Hiroshi was Tule Lake’s poet laureate, the courageous and soulful heart of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage. For decades, each pilgrimage is begun or closes with Hiroshi reading his iconic poem, “A Meeting at Tule Lake,” that was written on his first pilgrimage to Tule Lake in April 1975.
As a writer, poet, playwright and performer, Hiroshi was an artist whose unflinching honesty helped us comprehend the emotional impact the WWII incarceration had on the young adults beginning a life in America’s concentration camps.
Hiroshi was a loyalty questionnaire resister and a renunciant. His written reflections and his speaking about this time in Tule Lake and his postwar years helped preserve the story of the 12,000 loyalty questionnaire protesters and the 5,400 U.S. citizens who were victims of the Department of Justice’s monstrous program to denationalize and deport Americans who dared to protest their unjust incarceration.
Hiroshi was respected as one of the first Japanese American survivors to speak out against the injustice of the loyalty questionnaire and segregation, and he was resolute in his effort to prevent a mass incarceration from happening again. His persistence and courage in speaking about his incarceration experience was critical to correcting a distorted community narrative that had nearly erased the stories of Tule Lake’s wartime civil rights protesters.
We are fortunate to have been part of Hiroshi’s journey, and mourn the loss of a special person who graced us with his wit, his intellect, his wisdom and his integrity.
Kashiwagi is survived by his wife, Sadako; three sons, Toshihiro, Soji (Keiko), and Hiroshi F.; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, 1881 Pine St. (at Octavia), San Francisco.