Revisiting OWWCC Documentary: What They Could Carry…Return to Manzanar

On the 80th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the forced removal of the Bainbridge Island Japanese community in March 1942, followed by their incarceration at the Manzanar concentration camp, we revisit our the short documentary, What They Could Carry…Return To Manzanar”, about our OWWCC 2012 Delegation to Manzanar, by filmmaker Brenda Berry.

Akio Suyematsu Remembered in The Seattle Times for 80th Commemoration of EO 9066

On March 27, 2022, The Seattle Times published a series of stories about the Japanese American Exclusion during WWII on the 80th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066. Reporter Jackie Varriano wrote a feature story on one of our hero’s, Akio Suyematsu. EduCulture’s Jon Garfunkel assisted with research for this article. You can read this story and the other related features on other Bainbridge Islanders that have been a part of EduCulture and our Only What We Can Carry Project, such as Lilly Kodama and Vern Nakata, in The Seattle Times by clicking on the links below.

Click here to read: Meet Bainbridge Island’s last Japanese American farmer 
Suyematsu Farm wasn’t the first Japanese American farm or the largest, but Akio Suyematsu is known as the last Japanese American farmer on Bainbridge Island.  

Sunday, March 27, 2022
Dear readers: Throughout today’s editions of The Seattle Times, we offer a deep look at a painful chapter in U.S. history, the removal of Japanese Americans to incarceration camps. We also examine our 1942 news coverage of the event. 
A1 Revisited: The Seattle Times’ coverage of the 1942 removal of 227 Bainbridge residents left a harmful legacy 
Eighty years ago this week, the U.S. government sent Bainbridge Island’s Japanese-American residents to incarceration camps. Today we examine how The Seattle Times reported on the event. 
Why we must confront the racism and neglect of our own news pages 
We are deeply sorry for our harmful coverage of the incarceration of Japanese Americans and for the pain we caused in the past that still reverberates today. 
What we found when we examined our 1942 coverage of Executive Order 9066
On March 301942, Japanese American residents were forcibly removed from their homes. Here’s how the Seattle Times covered it and what we do differently today. 
For survivors of 1942’s forced removal from Bainbridge Island — and their descendants — the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial stands as a reminder to remember 
Eighty years ago, Bainbridge Island was the first location for the forced removal of Japanese Americans under the Civilian Exclusion Order.   
What life was like for Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Puyallup Fairgrounds 
Take a look inside the temporary camp at the Puyallup fairgrounds where thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated in 1942.  
Seattle’s Panama Hotel is a living museum of the Japanese American experience 
The Panama Hotel — built in 1910, still serving tea — held the belongings of incarcerated Japanese Americans during WWII. The owner now hopes to create a museum. 


High School Students Engage with Living History

Bainbridge Island High School Students Learn about Japanese American Exclusion from Community Elders & BHS Alumni

May 2018

Kay Sakai Nakao, Hisa Matsudaira, and Lilly Kodama speak with 11th Grade Students

For the past three years, our Only What We Can Carry Program has been organizing a series of guest speakers for a panel discussion on Japanese American Exclusion the Bainbridge High School 11th grade American Studies classes.  These discussions are part of their unit of study of American Foreign Policy during WWII.

Bainbridge Island was ground zero for the beginning of the implementation of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which led to the detention of 120,000 Japanese Americans and immigrants living within 200 miles of the west coast of the United States.  In March 1942, close to 300 Bainbridge Islanders were forced from their homes, with only what they could carry, and sent under military escort to the Manzanar Relocation Center in Independence, CA, one of 10 concentration camps set up to intern Japanese Americans during the WWII.

Kay Sakai Nakao, age 98, sharing stories of life in Manzanar

Along with a variety of questions about life on Bainbridge Island before, during, and after WWII, and their family’s experience with exclusion, students commented to their guest speakers about how they were appreciative of to hear their voices and stories.  It is a special opportunity when students can experience living history in their own backyard, and when lived experiences can inform a more lived curriculum.  This was made even more relevant hearing from survivors and their relatives who grew up on their Island and attended their schools.

This year guest speakers included:
Donna Harui – Harui Family
Hisa Matsudaira – Hayashida Family
Lilly Kodama – Kitamoto Family
Vern Nataka -Nakata Family
Kay Sakai Nakao – Sakai & Nakao Families
Victor Takemoto – Takemoto Family

Lilly Kodama talks about being a child during WWII.

EduCulture, through our Only What We Can Carry Program, has been working with Bainbridge Island School District since 2009 to enrich and enhance school curriculum on the local Japanese American immigrant and exclusion experience.  This includes organizing delegations of Bainbridge Island Japanese American survivors of the exclusion during WWII and BISD teachers to the former Manzanar concentration camp.  In 2016, OWWCC brought three of these BHS American Studies teachers to Manzanar.  Educulture also the resident educators at Historic Suyematsu Farm and homestead on Bainbridge Island.  You can learn more about our OWWCC program work at:

OWWCC Makes Spring ’16 Delegation to Manzanar

IMG_1935This Spring, Only What We Can Carry Project took a group of current and former Bainbridge Islanders to the former Manzanar Relocation Center, a WWII concentration camp in the High Sierras of California where the Bainbridge Island Japanese American community were sent in March 1942.

This is OWWCC’s fifth Delegation to Manzanar, a community service project which pairs local educators, responsible for teaching and learning about the Japanese American experience of Exclusion, with Bainbridge Islanders who lived through that period, many whom were the age of the students whose teachers accompany them.  Our aim is help enhance and enrich the culture of a curriculum, school and community whose history is completely interwoven with this story.


What will be the living messages (the stories, the lessons learned, the practices, the hopes) that current and future generations will carry about the Japanese American Exclusion after this generation who lived through that WWII experience have passed?  OWWCC Delegations to Manzanar have been an opportunity for Bainbridge Islanders, those that lived through it and those now responsibility for teaching and learning about this subject, to wrestle with this question. These journeys of discovery have charted new educational territory for those who have participated.

This year, OWWCC brought three 11th American Studies educators from Bainbridge High School, Larry Holland, James Seemuller, and Kirrin Coleman.  This journey of bearing witness was timed to take place the week before they would be studying US Foreign Policy during WWII and Japanese American Exclusion with their students.

We were also honored to have Bainbridge Island School Distirct Superintendent, Faith Chapel, join us on this delegation.  A Japanese American, Faith’s parents were both interned and met in the Poston Relocation Center in Arizona.


The Bainbridge Island educators accompanied Matsue Nishimori Watanabe, along with her daughter Naomi, Frances Kitamoto Ikegami, and Victor Takemoto, whose families were forced to leave their homes on Bainbridge Island during WWII (pictured L-R in photo above). Mrs. Watanabe and Mr. Takemoto were in the freshman class of Bainbridge High School, and Mrs. Ikegami was five years old, in March 1942.  We are grateful to this community elders for their time and stories, so that we might better understand what it was like to walk in their shoes.  We deeply appreciate how they have chosen to share the challenges and woundedness of their youth, so that upcoming generations might learn from their tragedies and triumphs.

OWWCC Project Co-Directors, Katy Curtis and Jon Garfunkel guided the delegation.  Our group is grateful to the National Park Service staff at the Manzanar Historic Site, especially Chief of Interpretation, Alisa Lynch, who made our journey of discover so welcoming, engaging, lived and meaningful.

Click here to learn more about OWWCC’s Delegations to Manzanar.


EduCulture Partners in “Snow Falling on Cedars” Events

Jon Garfunkel of EduCulture gives a Historical Museum tour to cast members of Snow Falling on Cedars.

EduCulture’s Jon Garfunkel works with the cast members of Snow Falling on Cedars at Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

Only What We Can Carry (OWWCC), EduCulture’s heritage and human rights education program, is excited to be partnering with Bainbridge Performing Arts (BPA) and other Island organizations in a full menu of educational activities surrounding and supporting the BPA stage adaptation of the book Snow Falling on Cedars, written by Bainbridge Island author David Guterson. OWWCC will be involved in numerous pre and post-show events throughout the months of February and March 2015. 

Cast members discuss the story and look over related artifacts at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

Cast members discuss the story and look over related artifacts at the Historical Museum.


Click here to read an Inside Bainbridge article about the production and EduCulture’s involvement.

Having this play produced and performed on Bainbridge Island presents a special opportunity to make many connections with this locally grown story. As many know, the historical context in which the novel takes place surrounds WWII and the Japanese American Exclusion, and the Pacific Northwest setting for the story is drawn from our own Island’s heritage.

EduCulture is partnering with BPA and other community organizations to help facilitate a series of educational outreach opportunities for local schools and the wider community during February and March. Related events in which we will be involved include:

– Meeting with cast members at Bainbridge Historical Museum and Suyematsu Historic Farm to serve as a resource for them and to discuss the “real” story of Japanese American Exclusion behind the fictional account.

– Japanese American Exclusion Film Talks at the Bainbridge Public Library; February 27; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

– First Friday Art Walk at the BPA Gallery; “Ansel Adams – A Portrait of Manzanar”; March 6; 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Exhibit ongoing in the BPA Gallery through March 31.

– Post-Show Discussions; Snow Falling on Cedars; EduCulture will lead post-performance “talk backs” with cast members and Bainbridge Islanders who lived through WWII and Japanese American Exclusion. Discussions, in a Q&A format, will be facilitated by EduCulture’s Only What We Can Carry Project, and will feature esteemed local guests such as Kay Sakai Nakao, Mary Woodward, and Lilly Kitamoto Kodama. March 15, 22, and 29 following the 3:00 Sunday matinee.

– Assisting with special matinee performances of Snow Falling On Cedars for local middle school and high school students; March 26, including facilitating pre and post-show classroom and curricular activities focusing on the real stories behind this fictional account of WWII and Japanese American Exclusion.

– Partnering on a new “Exclusion Tag Project.” As part of the community conversation surrounding Bainbridge Performing Arts’ production of Snow Falling on Cedars, you are invited to share how the experience of exclusion relates to your own life by recording your comments on replicas of identification tags similar to those that were issued to Japanese Americans during the Japanese American exclusion experience. Completed tags with your recorded comments will be displayed in the BPA lobby throughout the run of the performance. They will subsequently be archived at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum as the “2015 Exclusion Tag Community Project.”

For more information on this rich program of events, please follow this link to Bainbridge Performing Arts.

Check out our Facebook page for more about the Snow Falling on Cedars cast & activities.

Also, check out the upcoming edition of Currents Magazine published by the BI Arts & Humanities Council for more about these special programs.

We also invite you to visit our new Snow Falling on Cedars page in the OWWCC section of our website for a list of references and resources for further study of the realities that informed this fictional account of WWII and the Japanese American experience of exclusion.

Hope to see you at a Snow Falling on Cedars production and at the many events surrounding these performances.

Summer 2014 Programs with EduCulture



Check out our Summer Farm-Table Dinners, and
Programs for Formal & Informal Educators

Wednesday, July 23, 10a-3p
Eating What We Most Need to Learn: An Orientation to Your Food Community
Various Sites on Bainbridge Island
Class Size: 6-12, Tuition: $65, includes lunch

Learn about community food systems and experience the ingredients that make for a healthy food community.  Participants will follow, examine, and taste their way through a locally grown food chain from production on a working farm to distribution through a grocery store to consumption at a restaurant. Snacks and Lunch included.


Tuesday, July 29, 10a-2p
Approaching Edible Education I: Why are we doing this anyway? Grounding a Rationale for Edible Education in PreK-12 Schools *
EduCulture and Partner Sites, Bainbridge Island
Open to Formal & Informal Educators. Class Size: 8-16
Tuition: $55, includes lunch. Clock hours available by request.

What are major considerations informing edible education in K-12 schooling? We will explore the major “Why’s” that help us, as educators, ground a solid, vibrant rationale for the many ways in which food plays a role in our schools: from the classroom, to the curriculum, to the lunch room.


Thursday, July 31, 10a-2p
Approaching Edible Education II: What Does Edible Education Look Like? Curricular Considerations and Pathways for PreK-12 Schools *
EduCulture and Partner Sites, Bainbridge Island
Open to Formal & Informal Educators. Class Size: 8-16
Tuition: $55, includes lunch. Clock hours available by request.

What are major curricular considerations informing edible education in K-12 schooling? We will explore the major pathways for integrating edible education into the core curriculum (math, science, social studies…), as well as other curricular opportunities to address the study of food in our schools: from the classroom, to the garden or farm, to the lunch room.


Saturday, August 2, 5:30-8:30p
Foodshed to Table Summer Convivium & Dinner
Laughing Crow Farm & Bainbridge Vineyards, Bainbridge Island

Join EduCulture for a special outdoor foodshed to table dinner this summer. Enjoy a locally grown, farm-style meal and support locally grown edible education in the process. This foodshed to fork dinner is part of a series seasonal dinners EduCulture is developing to bring people together around the wild and cultivated food traditions of our Pacific Northwest bioregion, some call Salmon Nation, including from our partner farms.  EduCulture is partnering with The Food Shed to help shape and deliver a menu built on what is seasonal and regional, all sourced locally, fairly and sustainably.


Tuesday, August 5, 1-4p
Approaching Edible Education III: How Do I Develop an Edible Education Program for My School, Garden, Farm or Kitchen? Addressing Planning Considerations, Opportunities and Challenges *
EduCulture and Partner Sites, Bainbridge Island
Open to Formal & Informal Educators. Class Size: 6-12
Tuition: $35. Clock hours available by request. Permission of the Instructor required.

What are major programmatic considerations informing edible education in K-12 schooling? How do we design edible education programs at the curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular levels for the classroom, school garden, neighboring farm, school lunch, and other school and food community assets?  This seminar is designed for those developing an edible education program to have a professional learning environment in which to more fully examine and enrich their program design, planning, and outcomes.


* Approaching Edible Education I, II & III were designed to be taken as a series, but may be taken as independent classes.

* All Edible Education Classes will close with a wine tasting from Bainbridge Vineyards!


Thursday, August 7, 10a-4p
Approaching the Study of Japanese American Exclusion in Elementary & Secondary Education
Various Sites on Bainbridge Island
Open to Formal & Informal Educators. Class Size: 8-16
Tuition: $65, includes lunch. Clock hours available by request.

Through our Only What We Can Carry Project, you will visit key heritage sites and follow the lives of Bainbridge Island Japanese American Families who immigrated from Japan, established livelihoods, became citizens, then were forced into concentration camps during WWII.  Spend the day exploring historic Suyematsu Farm, Bainbridge Gardens, Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.  You will dialogue with original Bainbridge Islanders whose families lived through WWII and the Exclusion. The aim of this workshop is to help you as an educator to bear witness and bring this period of history alive for your students, while modeling field classes and learning experiences you can facilitate for students.

To register or learn more about these programs, contact EduCulture by email,, or call 206-780-5797.

*please note: programs subject to change

Documentary Chronicles OWWCC’s 2012 Delegation to Manzanar




What They Could Carry…Return to Manzanar” tells the story of the Only What We Can Carry Delegation to Manzanar in 2012. The short documentary was filmed and produced by videographer and former EduCulture Board Member Brenda Berry and her colleague Scott Rouse.

The documentary features OWWCC’s 4th delegation of former internees and current Island educators and community leaders, who together retraced the historic 1942 forced relocation of the Bainbridge Island Japanese Community to the former Manzanar Relocation Center, in Independence, California.

This wonderfully filmed, 13-minute video brings the visit to life and tells some of the personal stories of those impacted by this historical event.  We are so grateful to Brenda and Scott for their excellent work and tremendous contribution to preserving the valuable stories from these journeys of bearing witness and discovery.

Click here for more on our 2012 OWWCC Delegation to Manzanar. 



Celebrate 2nd Annual Akio Suyematsu Day

Come Celebrate Second Annual Akio Suyematsu Day!

Please join the Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farmers Guild, The Suyematsu Family, EduCulture and others in remembering this locally grown hero. All are welcome to attend.

Monday, August 19, 2013, 6-9pm
At Historic Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farms, Day Road East, Bainbridge Island (Farm Stand Entrance)

Akio Suyematsu

Following his passing in 2012, the City of Bainbridge Island proclaimed August 19 “Akio Suyematsu Day” in honor of this iconic farmer. Akio Suyematsu was the last of the original Japanese American Bainbridge Island berry farmers, who created an agricultural and community legacy on a working landscape second to none in the Puget Sound region. His life’s work has kept alive a taste of Bainbridge for over nine decades and inspired generations of local farmers.

This celebration will feature a memorial display of Akio Suyematsu’s life, an historic walking tour of the farm, live music, and locally grown food and refreshments.

Read more…

Only What We Can Carry Project Helps Host National Tour of Historic Suyematsu Farm

DSCN2172On July 7, about 150 visitors from around the US toured Bainbridge Island as part of a National Conference hosted by the Japanese American National Museum.   Our Only What We Can Carry project was honored to be involved in this special event.


OWWCC’s Jon Garfunkel organized the historic tours of Suyematsu Farm, accompanied by members of the Suyematsu family and farmers from Suyematsu & Bentryn Family Farmers Guild.  Visitors were treated to a locally grown lunch featuring greens, potatoes and raspberries from the farm.


Along with visiting the farm, these visitors also toured Bainbridge Gardens, Sakai School, and the BI Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

There were almost as many docents hosting the event as guest visitors.  It was a special day that made one feel proud to be a part of our Island Community.

DSCN2159  DSCN2176




Photos courtesy of Ray Tabata