The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC) honors the heritage of the Issei (first–generation Japanese) who came to the United States, and particularly to Bainbridge Island, to make a new life for themselves and their children. We hope to promote a better understanding of the diversity of our nation by sharing their history, customs, and values.
BIJAC is dedicated to preserving and sharing an accurate historical record through oral histories and an outreach educational program.
BIJAC's principal focus is the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial to honor those forced to leave their homes during World War II. Joining BIJAC in this project are local, county, state, and federal governments, as well as many, many individuals who have donated their time, money and energy toward its completion.
BIJAC's other projects include an annual Mochi Tsuki celebration to ring in the new year and an annual BYOB (Bring You Own Bento) summer picnic that brings together old friends and new. Both events are open to the public.
Other ongoing BIJAC programs are an oral history project, a traveling photo exhibit, Kodomo no Tame Ni ("For the Sake of the Children"), an educational outreach both locally and off–Island, and the Milly and Walt Woodward Fund "to promote the values of acceptance, understanding and respect of civil rights for all." The Woodward Fund is named to honor the former editors of the Bainbridge Review who consistently opposed the exclusion of Japanese Americans in the 1940s.
Two book projects are currently supported by BIJAC: Gaman, which will chronicle the legacy of the Issei and the unique relationship between the Issei and Island Hakujin (Caucasians), and
In Defense of our Neighbors, written by one of the Woodwards' daughters, which recounts Bainbridge Island's strong support of its exiles during the war.
Our meetings (1st Wednesday each month) are usually held in the Town and Country Market conference room in the building west of the store. Membership is free.
About our Logo
(TOP RIGHT) The Mojis and Their Dog King on Day of Forced Removal — King tried to leave with the Mojis and jumped into the back of the truck. When soldiers tried to get him out of the truck he bared his teeth at them. Eventually the Mojis coaxed him out of the truck and he was left with the neighbors. With his family away, King refused to eat and died of starvation. March 30, 1942. Bainbridge Island, WA. Copyright: Museum of History and Industry, Seattle Post Intelligencer Collection
(MIDDLE LEFT) Masaru Shibayama, Age 2, Looks at Soldier's Rifle — Copyright: Library of Congress
(BOTTOM RIGHT) Soldiers at Winslow Ferry Dock, Day of Forced Removal — The ferry Kelohken was designated to bring the Bainbridge Island Nikkei to Seattle on the first leg of their forced removal to the Manzanar Assembly Center in the California desert. The ferry picked up the soldiers in Winslow then traveled across Eagle Harbor to the Eagledale Ferry Dock where the evacuees were loaded. March 30, 1942 Copyright: Museum of History and Industry, Seattle Post Intelligencer Collection