Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration
Curators’ Preview and Gallery Talk

Join Duncan Ryuken Williams and Emily Anderson, curators of the upcoming exhibition, “Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration” for a virtual preview of many never-before-seen artifacts that tell the stories of how Japanese Americans drew on their faith to survive forced removal and incarceration at a time when their race and religion were seen as threats to national security. This program is the launch event for the exhibition “Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration” opening on February 26, 2022 at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). The exhibition is co-presented by JANM and the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.

About the Sutra and Bible Exhibit: From the confines of concentration camps and locales under martial law to the battlegrounds of Europe, Japanese Americans drew on their faith to survive forced removal, indefinite incarceration, unjust deportation, family separation, and war combat at a time when their race and religion were seen as threats to national security. The Sutra and Bible Exhibit explores the role that religion played in saving the exiled Japanese American community from despair through an array of astonishing artifacts: from the prayer books and religious scrolls they carried into camp, to the Buddha statues, crosses, altars they handcrafted to keep their spirits alive. At the heart of the exhibit are sacred scriptures created in camp: ink-inscribed stones that were unearthed from the Heart Mountain concentration camp’s cemetery that make up a section of the Lotus Sutra, and heavily annotated bilingual Bibles, handwritten by the Salvation Army’s Captain Masou Kitaji during his incarceration in the Poston concentration camp.

This exhibition shares the many ways that the Buddhist and Christian communities provided refuge, instilled hope, taught compassion as Japanese Americans survived behind barbed wire, under martial law, and on the battlefield.

The Sutra and Bible Exhibit is co-curated by Duncan Ryuken Williams and Emily Anderson and is sponsored by the Japanese American National Museum and the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, with support from the National Parks Services Japanese American Confinement Site grants program. The Exhibit is housed at the Japanese American National Museum and can be toured in-person by reserving a timed ticket from February 26 to November 27, 2022.

Sutra and Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration

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