“Pool in pleasure park” photographed by Ansel Adams, 1943. The park — later renamed Merritt Park, for Project Director Ralph P. Merritt — will be featured in the “Gardens for Peace” event. (Library of Congress) 

Manzanar National Historic Site invites the public to recognize the United Nations’ 2021 International Day of Peace on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Manzanar is one of only 14 places across the continent selected by the North American Japanese Garden Association to host a “Gardens for Peace” event. During World War II, incarcerated Japanese Americans created gardens as places of serenity and beauty throughout Manzanar. Their works remain a testament to cultural pride in the face of prejudice, hope and action in the face of forced confinement, and building community ties in the face of imposed institutionalism. 

Manzanar’s “Gardens for Peace” event is co-hosted by Dr. Kendall H. Brown and Jeffery F. Burton. Brown is a professor of Asian art history at CSU Long Beach and a noted scholar on the history and future of Japanese gardens. His 2013 book “Quiet Beauty: The Japanese Gardens of North America” is available from the nonprofit Manzanar store or by calling Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association at (760) 872-1220.

Burton is the cultural resources program manager at Manzanar National Historic Site and has researched, studied, written, and presented extensively on Japanese American incarceration sites. He leads the site’s award-winning Community Archaeology Program (CAP) and has enlisted hundreds of volunteers — ages 9 to 90 — from local towns and across the U.S., as well as from Japan, to excavate more than 20 gardens at Manzanar since 2003.

The North American Japanese Garden Association is presenting a special program Friday evening in Lone Pine, followed by tours and discussions at Manzanar the next day. The events will follow CDC protocol for COVID-19, including social distancing and requiring masks indoors and anywhere outdoors with multiple households present and/or where social distancing is not possible, regardless of vaccination status.

Logo for the North American Japanese Garden Association’s “Gardens for Peace” program, in conjunction with the United Nations’ 2021 International Day of Peace.

Friday, Sept. 17, in Lone Pine

6 to 8 p.m.: Illustrated program

Join Dr. Kendall Brown to learn about Japanese gardens across North America.

Where: Banquet Room of the Lone Pine Smokehouse, 325 S. Main St., Lone Pine. Food, including vegetarian options, will be available for purchase.

Saturday, Sept. 18, at Manzanar

For your safety, bring water, snacks/lunch, and a mask. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat, and sun protection.

9 a.m.: Guided tour of four of Manzanar’s best-preserved Japanese gardens

Meet Dr. Kendall Brown and Jeff Burton for a one-mile (round-trip) walk. While the walk is mostly on cleared paths and old roads, there is one short cross-country section. Meet at the Arai Pond Parking Area, 0.8 mile beyond the Visitor Center heading north on the paved tour road. 

12 p.m.: Informal lunch discussion

Join Brown and Burton at the Hospital Garden for an in-depth conversation on the historical significance of Manzanar’s gardens and their potential for promoting peace. 

Bring your own lunch and beverage. Chairs, tables, a washing station, and porta-potty will be provided. 

1:30 p.m.: Extended garden tour

Expand your experience with a walking tour of up to two miles, depending on weather and interest, to explore additional gardens, as well as some unexcavated gardens. The walk will be mostly on cleared paths and old roads with a few short cross-country sections. The walk will start the Hospital parking area, 1.1 miles beyond the Visitor Center on the paved tour road. 

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Highway 395, six miles south of Independence and nine miles north of Lone Pine. Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/manz or https://www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.  

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