Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit

Contemporary photograph of Junzo Jake Ohara, Takeshi Motoyasu, and Eddie Tetsuji Kato taken in Monterey Park, California, in 2013 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

May 27 – August 7, 2022

  • Family-friendly
  • Free for Members
  • Researchers
  • Teachers
  • Handicap Accessible Friendly

Location:
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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On February 19, 1942, with a frightened nation still reeling from Japan’s recent attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the imprisonment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Inspired by the Japanese concept of gambatte — to triumph over adversity — this exhibition features modern and historic photographs to present an intimate exploration of the lasting affect that the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II had on the nation and its citizens.

Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the United States government established the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to manage the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans. During the WRA’s existence, it commissioned photographers — Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Clem Albers, Tom Parker, Francis Stewart, and others — to document the treatment of these Americans during the process of forced removal, at assembly centers, and at America's concentration camps.

In the late 1970s, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr., learned that Lange had photographed his family in 1942 as they waited for a bus in Oakland, California, to take them to the Tanforan Assembly Center, a designated detention facility at the time. This discovery led Kitagaki on a mission to identify, seek out, and document other individuals captured in WRA-era photographs.

Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit features large-format contemporary photos taken by Paul Kitagaki, Jr., displayed next to historic images shot by noted photographers that feature the same individuals or their direct descendants as the subject matter. Illuminating a very dark time in American history as well as the legacy of its survivors, these large-format images tell personal and heartfelt stories, stories that should not be forgotten. While Japanese American incarceration occurred more than 75 years ago, current events and contemporary political rhetoric demonstrate that racism and prejudice still exist. The stories told in this exhibition may be more relevant now than ever.

Historic photograph of Anna Kaku at Topaz Relocation Center, Delta, Utah, taken in 1945 by an unknown photographer. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Historic photograph of Anna Kaku at Topaz Relocation Center, Delta, Utah, taken in 1945 by an unknown photographer.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Contemporary photograph of Anna Kaku Nakada taken at her home in Morristown, New Jersey, in 2014 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Contemporary photograph of Anna Kaku Nakada taken at her home in Morristown, New Jersey, in 2014 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Historic photograph of Junzo Jake Ohara, Takeshi Motoyasu, and Eddie Tetsuji Kato in their Boy Scout uniforms at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Cody, Wyo., taken in 1943 by Pat Coffey. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Historic photograph of Junzo Jake Ohara, Takeshi Motoyasu, and Eddie Tetsuji Kato in their Boy Scout uniforms at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Cody, Wyo., taken in 1943 by Pat Coffey.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Contemporary photograph of Junzo Jake Ohara, Takeshi Motoyasu, and Eddie Tetsuji Kato taken in Monterey Park, California, in 2013 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Contemporary photograph of Junzo Jake Ohara, Takeshi Motoyasu, and Eddie Tetsuji Kato taken in Monterey Park, California, in 2013 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Historic photograph of Yukiko Okinaga at the Union Railroad Station in Los Angeles, California, waiting to travel to Manzanar Relocation Center in Inyo County, California, taken in 1942 by Clem Albers. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Admin.

Historic photograph of Yukiko Okinaga at the Union Railroad Station in Los Angeles, California, waiting to travel to Manzanar Relocation Center in Inyo County, California, taken in 1942 by Clem Albers.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Contemporary photograph of Yukiko Okinaga Llewellyn revisiting Manzanar National Historic Site in Inyo County, California, taken in 2005 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Contemporary photograph of Yukiko Okinaga Llewellyn revisiting Manzanar National Historic Site in Inyo County, California, taken in 2005 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Historic photograph of Mits Kojimoto in San Francisco, California, waiting for a bus to the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia, California, taken in 1942 by Dorothea Lange. Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Historic photograph of Mits Kojimoto in San Francisco, California, waiting for a bus to the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Arcadia, California, taken in 1942 by Dorothea Lange.

Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.

Contemporary photograph of Mits Kojimoto on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, California, the same spot where he waited for the bus in 1942, taken in 2008 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Contemporary photograph of Mits Kojimoto on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, California, the same spot where he waited for the bus in 1942, taken in 2008 by Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr. Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Paul Kitagaki, Jr.

Courtesy of Paul Kitagaki, Jr.