Kansha Project

What is the Kansha Project?

The Kansha Project is a JACL Chicago program founded in 2011 that connects self-identified, Japanese Americans, ages 18-25, from the Midwest to their identity, history and community.

Participants engage in an in-depth examination of the WWII confinement site experience through an immersive educational trip to Los Angeles’ historic Little Tokyo neighborhood and Manzanar National Historic Site. Through workshops with local experts and community activists, historical tours, and group reflections, participants work to interpret and promote the stories, lessons, and the legacy of the Japanese American confinement site experience.

Kansha Project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.

Update 5/2020: Due to developments regarding COVID-19 over the past couple months, Kansha Project 2020 has been canceled. While we are disappointed, this decision was made out of a desire to act in the best interest and safety of our participants, volunteers, Chicago community members, and communities we engage with in California.
Adjustment for Kansha Project 2021: the upper age limit for participation will be raised from 25 to 26 years old (to include those who may be 25 this year). Self-identified Japanese Americans ages 18-26 will be eligible to apply in 2021.
Thank you for all of your continued support!! While the Kansha Project trip will not be happening, we will be hosting other remote events over the next few months! Stay tuned for updates!

When will the program take place?

The Kansha Project takes place every year in June.

Who can participate?

The program is open to any self-identified Japanese American between the ages of 18-25. Participants must commit to all components of the program.

Where will they go?

Participants will travel to Los Angeles for a three-night, four-day period. The program will be based in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of L.A., where the educational sessions will take place. The trip will include an overnight stay near the Manzanar concentration camp site.

How is the program structured?

In addition to the trip, participants will be required to attend a full day orientation session at the JACL Chicago office prior to their departure; work on a project throughout the program that will express their reflections and personal connection to this legacy; and present their projects to the Chicago community during a culmination event held one week after returning.

What will they do?

Educational sessions will cover:

  • Personal racial and ethnic identity
  • Interpersonal impact of incarceration on the Japanese American community
  • Current state of the Japanese American community
  • The continued legacy of the Japanese American experience

Other activities will include:

  • Various workshops addressing topics such as identity, Japanese American history, and the impacts of the incarceration
  • Visit to the Japanese American National Museum
  • Tour of Little Tokyo’s historic sites
  • Overnight stay near Manzanar concentration camp site: guided tour, Manzanar Interpretive Center, National Parks Service hands-on service project.

How much will it cost?

There is a nominal participation fee of $150 for JACL Chicago members, $200 for non-members. All costs during the program (travel, lodging, food, etc.) will be covered.

*Participants may be eligible for the discounted participant fee if they become JACL Chicago members upon acceptance into the program.

If you have any questions, you can contact us at: kansha@jaclchicago.org