Day of Remembrance participants in the Japanese Memorial Garden next to the site of the Salinas Assembly Center. The plaque designates California Historical Landmark No. 934, Salinas Temporary Detention Center.

By RYOKO OHNISHI, Rafu Contributor

SALINAS — A Northern California Day of Remembrance event was held on last Saturday at two locations near the former site of the Salinas Assembly Center.

The event was hosted by the Salinas Valley JACL and sponsored by the Gilroy, Monterey, San Benito, and Watsonville-Santa Cruz JACL chapters.

At the Japanese Memorial Garden, located next to California Rodeo Salinas, which served as Salinas Assembly Center between April and July 1942, approximately 20 people, including local teachers, volunteers, and members of JACL, gathered to listen to a talk by one of the local former detainees, Mas Hashimoto, 84, of Watsonville, a retired Watsonville High School teacher.

Hashimoto shared his memories about the assembly center, where one of his six brothers, Noriyuki, passed away at age 14 due to a baseball accident.

Mas Hashimoto discussed his experiences as an incarceree at the detention center.

Hashimoto told The Rafu Shimpo, “I heard there was one other death in the assembly center. I am looking into the case.”

The garden was established in 1984, dedicated to the 3,586 Monterey Bay Area residents of Japanese ancestry who were incarcerated there for three months in 1942. Most of them were then sent to Poston in Arizona.

After the memorial program, a documentary film by Greg Chaney, “The Empty Chair” (2014) was screened at Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church, followed by California Assembly and Senate Day of Remembrance resolutions and a Tsuru for Solidarity presentation by Dominic Dursa. About 100 people attended.

Photos by RYOKO OHNISHI/Rafu Shimpo

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