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San Mateo Holds Special Day of Remembrance Event

World War II is a large punctuation mark for many families in America — not the least for Japanese Americans like many of the Sangha members of our BCA temples. 


The Day of Remembrance is now nationally recognized to signify the injustice of presidential Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, to incarcerate Japanese Americans during the war. 

As we reach 125 years of the founding of the Buddhist Churches of America, that means many of our members and families have histories that intersect with the internment. 


On Feb. 18, the San Mateo Buddhist Temple (SMBT) held a special Day of Remembrance service and event. 


Reiko Kataoka, a SMBT member, filmed a documentary where another member, Michiko Mukai, was interviewed about her experience before and after the internment. She led a relatively normal life for a young girl in America before the war, but the relocation ended any sense of normalcy. 


Upon returning from internment, her family rebuilt their lives from scratch in San Mateo. It was a great opportunity for three generations of the family to connect and learn more about their mother and grandmother. 


This documentary, which was screened after the service for all attendees, was followed by a panel discussion with other San Mateo temple members who also had been interned. 


Steve Okamoto, Ritsuko Furuya, and Mike Yoshimoto graciously gave their time and shared their own experiences with the internment to the Sangha. 


Okamoto also shared information about the Tanforan memorial in San Bruno that was recently built at the former location of the Tanforan Assembly Center. 


At the time, it was a race track that was hastily converted to be the first place many of our members, including Michiko Mukai’s family, were relocated and spent a few months before being transferred to the mass detention camps further inland.


This history is something we do not want to forget, and we are lucky to still have the living memory of this experience in our Sangha. I am sure we have many other great stories within our membership and I am looking forward to hearing them.


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Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
4 days ago

This documentary, which was screened after the service for all attendees, was followed by a panel discussion with other San Mateo temple members who also had been interned. 

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