(Note from the editor: The following article was updated 7/3/13 at the request from Patti Hirahara. She says the article in the Yakima Herald got some details incorrect. They have been corrected below, as has the spelling of her name)
They endured racism in their daily lives–1,200 Japanese Americans who settled in Washington State’s Yakima Valley. Some came as early as the early 1900s.
These Japanese American pioneers stayed until racism built to up into a fever pitch and the United States ordered them to evacuate and herded them into incarceration camps during World War II.
Most never returned, until now.
The Yakima Herald reports a reunion was held of Japanese American pioneers in Yakima Valley. Some came from as far away as New York, Hawaii and Southern California.
They were drawn back to Yakima Valley by an exhibit at the Yakima Valley Museum telling the story of the area’s first Japanese settlers. Many of the artifacts on display were donated by some of the 200 attendees who returned for the reunion.
“It’s amazing that all these people came to see all this, but it’s good,” said Bill Murata, 89. “I think it’s real nice, real thorough.”
Patti Hirahara found some artifacts in her grandparent’s home in Yakima, the same home they returned to in 1945 from Heart Mountain, before they moved to Los Angeles in 1992. Many of those artifacts were donated to the Yakima Valley Museum in 2009. Hirahara said the museum was inspired to create the exhibit due to this donation.
“This is the most fantastic thing that I could have hoped would ever happen,” she said. “Due to this reunion, they felt that this story should be told so they donated even more (artifacts).”
You can read a lot more about the reunion, the Japanese American pioneers of Yakima Valley and the exhibit in the Yakima Herald.