Case Studies

National Japanese American Memorial


The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism during World War II stands as a powerful tribute to the resilience and patriotism of Japanese Americans who endured the injustice of incarceration during World War II. Situated on a triangular urban site near the U.S. Capitol, the memorial’s design harmonizes with the surrounding streetscape while creating a contemplative atmosphere for visitors.

The memorial’s focal point is the innovative use of dimensional granite, which envelops the space and bears the inscribed names of Japanese Americans who lost their lives in World War II. This choice of material not only symbolizes the enduring strength of the Japanese American community but also adds a timeless and dignified aesthetic to the memorial. The granite serves as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by these individuals and invites visitors to reflect upon the immense courage and loyalty they displayed despite facing prejudice and injustice.

The five Iridian® boulders, featuring a rugged Rockface finish, represent the five generations of Japanese Americans that were affected by World War II.

The Lac du Bonnet® granite wall helps visitors better understand the significance of WWII events and to honor the 100th Battalion, 442 Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service that lost their lives serving their community.

Amidst the granite enclosure, a tranquil pool, made of Academy Black® granite, invites visitors to pause and engage in self-reflection. The stillness of the water provides a moment of respite and contemplation, encouraging visitors to connect with the history and significance of the memorial. To enhance the ambiance, energy-efficient fiber optic lights illuminate the pool at night, transforming the memorial into a captivating and ethereal sight.

At the heart of the memorial stands “The Golden Cranes,” an awe-inspiring sculpture created by Nina Akamu, a third-generation Japanese American artist. This majestic artwork serves as a powerful symbol of resilience, grace, and freedom. Its presence in the center of the memorial further emphasizes the strength and spirit of the Japanese American community, paying homage to their unwavering loyalty and commitment to their country.

The thoughtful integration of water elements, the impactful wall inscriptions, the striking statue, and the harmonious landscape design come together in a cohesive and poignant manner. The memorial succeeds in not only evoking a deeply emotional response from visitors but also imparting knowledge about the history and sacrifices of Japanese Americans during World War II. It serves as a moving and informative monument that honors the patriotism and unwavering dedication of Japanese Americans in the face of adversity, while also reminding us of the importance of upholding equal justice under the law.

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