Senninbari Shrine is a public art piece installed in Occidental Square, October-December 2018.
My piece reflects on how to create a place of protection: from both internal and external evils, past and present. Senninbari is a Japanese word meaning “one thousand person stitches.” Incarcerated Japanese American women followed an old Shinto tradition of sewing red french knots onto garments to serve as protective amulets for their men departing in segregated units for WWII battlefields. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), bolstered by the combat-hardened 100th Infantry Battalion, comprised of Japanese American draftees from Hawai’i, became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service. The red knotted ropes in my piece refer to this loving practice–and make it fiercely bold. These garlands are adorned with hand-written ema (plaques) on which hundreds of community members wrote positive wishes or hopes for the future. Thank you to everyone who participated!
I am grateful to the Downtown Seattle Association for funding this piece, to Densho for providing additional funding and encouragement through my artist residency there, to Marcia Iwasaki and Elisheba Johnshon who ran the City of Seattle’s Public Art Boot Camp where I first began working on this concept and to Uncle Eugene Tagawa who shot these images and supports all of my projects.