New exhibit in DTLA shares personal stories of hardships endured in WWII Japanese internment camps

"You see incredible photography, remarkable in their scale, and the power they have," said a UCLA professor.

John Gregory Image
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Exhibit shares stories of hardships in WWII Japanese internment camps
Japanese American National Museum uses augmented reality to help tell stories of struggle, hardship, resilience during WWII Japanese internment camps

DOWNTOWN LA (KABC) -- A new exhibit in downtown Los Angeles is using modern technology to tell personal stories of the hardships endured in Japanese internment camps.

Visitors of the Japanese American National Museum on Central Avenue will get a somber education about the camps that forced many U.S. citizens to be incarcerated during the Second World War.

It's a new way to see and experience the sad history of the camps, with augmented reality bringing viewers closer to the struggle so many Japanese Americans faced.

"My mother was running a hotel. My family lost everything because she had to give up the hotel," said Michi Tanioka, a camp survivor.

Most were just kids when they were forced into the camps during World War II.

Artist Masaki Fujihata used old photos and new technology to bring their stories to life.

"It's really important to give the visitor a new experience. The experience means the contrast between the ordinary life the happenings in the past," said Fujihata.

The augmented reality allows visitors to walk into the history and exhibit organizers feel it can change perspectives.

"You see incredible photography, remarkable in their scale, and the power they have," said UCLA professor Michael Emmerich.

The old cameras that took these pictures are also here to see, which are more reminders of this sad chapter in American history.

"It is an American story, they had their hardships they didn't give up on their American dream, this was their home," said June Aochi Berk, another camp survivor.

For many the wounds have healed, but there are still scars.

Now, they can be seen, and maybe even felt, in ways exhibit organizers hope will be remembered.

For more information, visit the Japanese American National Museum website.