On October 11, 2013 some 55 people gathered at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i to discuss the preservation and future interpretation of the Japanese American confinement camp and WWII prisoner of war camp that was operated in Honouliuli Gulch from 1943 to 1945.
During the years of WWII, several hundred first and second generation Japanese Americans, as well as thousands of prisoners of war were incarcerated at Honouliuli detention camp. In 2012 the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed Act 235, establishing the Honouliuli park site advisory group to develop recommendations for funding of an educational resource center at the Honouliuli detention site.
In May 2013 the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH) received a contract from the State Resources Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to design, coordinate and document a community visioning process for the development of the Honouliuli Educational Resource Center.
The visioning charrette was organized by JCCH with the assistance of Historic Hawai‘i Foundation; SHPD; Townscape, Inc.; and John Hara Associates Inc. Invitees included family members of former internees, JCCH docents, the confinement sites committee, the Honouliuli tour guide team, the state advisory group, city and state agencies that have an interest in the project, and elected officials. The report of the activity and related actions of the advisory group will be submitted to the state legislature for consideration for next steps.
The vision statement for the Honouliuli internment camp is a dual vision – for the site and for the prospective education center:
“The site should be a place of respect and reflection that honors the experience of the internees; it should remain largely untouched, except for some clearing of brush and trees and ongoing archaeological field work. Visitors should be able to experience jigoku dani (“hell valley”) as the internees experienced Honouliuli gulch many years ago: the isolation, the oppressive heat, the mosquitos, and the enforced separation from family and friends.”
“The education center should be located near but not in the gulch. The center should provide visitors with a dynamic, interactive educational experience, with videos, displays, photos and other means of conveying to visitors both the historical background and the grim experience of the people who were interned and imprisoned at Honouliuli internment camp.”