Monday, May 20, 2024



Happy Monday!
Did you have a good weekend?

As part of Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander month, you may want to take a look at a specific set of quilts.  These were made while Japanese Americans were interred during World War 2.  It's a bleak chapter in our history but one that should not be forgotten.  Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned at this time.  One of the most famous was actor George Takei who later produced the Broadway musical and movie, Allegiance (see here).  Carol and I went to see it years before Covid.

The term "Gaman" was practiced by the Americans interred in the camp.  It is a Japanese term derived from a Buddhism that means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity."  Many of the prisoners practiced this by creating art and craft things.  There's even a book featuring the crafts:

You can see many of the items that were made at this site.

And quilts were made too!  The Poston quilt (now housed in the Boston Museum of Art) featured blocks made by fourth graders.  See here--it's a delight.

My favorite quilt from this chapter was one that wasn't made by Japanese Americans.  It is the story of kindness.

A pregnant woman named Shizuko was in the detention camp south of San Francisco.  While imprisoned there, Quaker women would come to the fence and deposit fruits and vegetables over the barrier to help the Japanese Americans.  One woman, perhaps observing that Shizuko was pregnant threw a quilt over the fence and said, "Perhaps this will help."  Throughout her life Shizuko would not be parted from the quilt, not even at her death bed.  To her it represented that someone cared outside of the camp.  You can read the full story here.  I hope you do.

Have a safe and happy day!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, that story of the quilt made me tear up. I'm so happy to read about some kindness in the midst of all that misery. Thank you for sharing it, Michele.