The Suitcase Project

A collaboration with Kayla Isomura

The Suitcase Project asks yonsei and gosei (fourth and fifth generation) Japanese Canadians and  Americans what they would pack if uprooted from their homes in a moment’s notice.

While these descendants of the internment and incarceration may never have to endure the same forced uprooting as their ancestors, Kayla Isomura’s work examines how they, and those descended from families who experienced other forms of discrimination, remain affected by this history today through a series of photographs, short films and interviews.

Over the course of nearly three months, more than 80 subjects ranging in age and background shared their stories from cities in British Columbia, Canada and Washington, USA.

With videography by Mark Yuen and music by Garin Fahlman.

Exhibit travel

The Suitcase Project is travelling. Dates and locations TBD. If you are interested in hosting this exhibit, please view our sell sheet for more information.

October 6 | Nikkei National Museum
A one-night pop-up exhibit for the museum's annual Community Awards Dinner.

November 3 |Meydenbauer Convention Center
Bellevue, Washington
A one-night pop-up for Densho Dinner, a fundraising event for the Seattle-based organization.

Online gallery

To view excerpts from the exhibit online, visit:

Public programs


Tuesdays, 11am

Curator tours: Saturday, August 11, 12:30 pm, and Saturday, August 25, 11 am

By donation (suggested $5)

Meet on the second floor of Nikkei Centre. Registration not required.

June 16, 2 to 5 pm | Exhibit opening and reception
With special performance: Question 27, Question 28
Play reading

The struggles and resilience Japanese American female incarcerees faced during the Second World War are woven through this play reading based on transcripts and oral histories from the US government’s “loyalty questionnaire.”

Written by Chay Yew, directed by Tamlyn Tomita, and featuring Laura Fukumoto, Jennifer Spence, Genevieve Fleming, and Yoshié Bancroft.

July 21, 2 to 5 pm | Tsukuroimono: 繕い物
Sewing workshop

Fix or revive a personal item to reuse and/or wear in this hand sewing workshop with Yoriko Gillard. Learn several methods of mending and suitable motifs.

July 27, 10 am to 5 pm | Tashme bus tour

Visit the largest Japanese Canadian internment camp located in Tashme (now called Sunshine Valley), 14 miles southeast of Hope.

August 5 | Unpacking Our Histories
Community conversation

Unpack complex stories in this cross-generational, cross-cultural conversation at Vancouver’s Powell Street Festival.

August 11, 2 pm | What About Us?
Artist talk

Kayla Isomura and videographer Mark Yuen share how The Suitcase Project came together with more than 80 yonsei and gosei in the final production.