Wakasa 80th Memorial Commemorative Weekend

The Topaz Museum Board and Wakasa Memorial Committee invite you to a weekend of memorial events in Salt Lake City, Utah and at the Topaz concentration camp 16 miles outside of Delta, Utah, to honor the memory of James Hatsuaki Wakasa, who was walking his dog when he was killed by an Army guard on April 11, 1943, at Topaz.

The memorial events in Utah will require registration and will commence Friday, April 21, at the Salt Lake City Buddhist Temple. An evening program will feature a presentation on the life of James Hatsuaki Wakasa, followed by a panel presentation by officials from the Utah State Historical Preservation Office and the National Park Service, as well as a stone conservator. They will discuss the long-term preservation of the Wakasa memorial stone and site.

At Topaz, on Saturday, April 22, a ceremonial walk will retrace Wakasa’s steps from his barrack to the sacred place where he died. After his death, a monument was built nearby in his memory but taken down by government order. A brief interfaith ceremony will be held near the fence where he died. After the memorial walk, a ritual ceremony will be live streamed to the Delta Community Center from the Wakasa memorial stone in the courtyard of the Topaz Museum in Delta.

The Wakasa Monument, a 2,400-pound memorial stone, was erected in June 1943 near the fence at Topaz by Issei friends and members of the landscape committee, in defiance of the authorities’ orders not to build a monument. Soon after, they were ordered by WRA administration to destroy the monument. The builders, instead, buried the stone. The top was rediscovered in 2020 and lay in the ground for 78 years, until it was unearthed by the Topaz Museum Board and relocated to the Museum’s courtyard in 2021.

Please join us as we mourn and remember the legacy of James Hatsuaki Wakasa, 80 years after his murder.