2022 Pilgrimage theme image featuring illustration of barracks in lantern form under moon and stars

2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage

2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage

July 28-30, 2022

In 1959, a cartoon mouse named Hashimoto-San stepped onto the silver screen for the very first time. He wasn’t destined for celebrity—like that other mouse—but to his creator, Bob Kuwahara, he was everything. Bob had been an animator in some of America’s biggest cartoon studios before World War II. He watched as those same studios made cartoons depicting people of Japanese ancestry as grotesque and evil caricatures. The incarceration of Bob’s family at Heart Mountain was testament to the consequences of such insensitive and racist representation. 

After he was released, Bob created Hashimoto-San to set the record straight. The little mouse was the first positive representation of Japanese culture ever to appear in Western animation. Hashimoto was wise, witty, and always stood up against injustice, even when facing a much larger opponent. Bob wanted his children to see themselves on the screen, to see everything they could become.


The 2022 Pilgrimage honored all those Japanese Americans who fought to be seen and heard. Our programs will explore overlooked Nikkei contributions to pop culture, single out voices striving for representation today, and dig into what it means to be Japanese American in the 21st century. All the while, we will continue to reflect on and remember the experiences of those who were incarcerated here during World War II.

This year’s featured image is a still from the animated video for Kishi Bashi’s Violin Tsunami. Kishi Bashi will be screening his new documentary Omoiyari: A Songfilm at the 2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage (see below for details). Image courtesy of Tandem Media & Joyful Noise Recordings.
Visit www.omoiyarisongfilm.com for more about the film, music, & Kishi Bashi.

Thank you so much to this year’s sponsors!

Absaroka Wealth Management
Bighorn Design Studio
Blair Hotels
The Cody Enterprise
Darrell Kunitomi
Douglas Smith
HUB Insurance
Janet Minami
Japanese American Citizens League
Japanese American National Museum
Keele Sanitation
Marquis Awards & Specialties, Inc.

Minidoka National Historic Site & Friends of Minidoka
Mitsuru Mihara
Pepsi Bottling Group
The Powell Tribune
The UPS Store—Cody
Whittle, Hamilton and Associates, P.C.

This year’s Pilgrimage features a variety of activities:

*This is an optional addition to the weekend

Thursday, July 28

Many Pilgrimage attendees choose to arrive earlier in the week, to spend time exploring Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and the historic site on their own before the hustle and bustle of the Pilgrimage. It is also a good opportunity to explore Cody, Powell, the surrounding wilderness, and Yellowstone National Park, slightly farther afield.

Pre-Pilgrimage activities begin the morning of Thursday, July 28, with an optional guided hike up Heart Mountain. The registration table will open at 12 noon at the Holiday Inn. Onsite registration is where participants check in with us so we know you’ve arrived and can provide you with registration packets including nametags, guidelines, a detailed schedule, and information for the entire weekend.

Attendees can also choose from four workshops in which to participate on Thursday. Check out the options below!

Space is limited for certain workshops—be sure sign up when you register. We will notify you if the workshop you signed up for is full. If you have questions, please contact us at info@heartmountain.org.


Cartooning with Willie Ito

Join legendary animator Willie Ito for an afternoon of cartooning and storytelling. Bring your sketchpad and learn from a master, while he spins tales from his long career working in cartoons at Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and Hanna Barbera. You may even get a sneak peek at his upcoming animated short, Hello, Maggie!

Densho Family History & Genealogy

Join Densho for an interactive workshop that will equip you with the tools you need to dig more deeply into your family history. Densho staff will introduce you to the fundamentals of genealogy and explain how to use Densho resources and other sites for your family history research. The workshop will be broken into two parts, with the first part devoted to introducing these resources and the second part inviting more interaction from participants. Bring your questions, exciting research discoveries, and/or a family history object or photo to share with your fellow attendees.

Look Toward the Mountain

Go behind the scenes of the Heart Mountain podcast Look Toward the Mountain with series head writer and host Rob Buscher. Rob will discuss the writing and editing process, present excerpts from the series, and offer tips on how to bring historical materials and sources to life with dynamic storytelling.

Root Cellar sitting outside at Heart Mountain

Root Cellar Tour*

Take part in this special hardhat tour of the Heart Mountain root cellar, currently under restoration. The original 1943 cellar is the only surviving Heart Mountain structure designed and built entirely by incarcerees. This tour will highlight unique features of the structure, detail the restoration process, and provide a preview of upcoming plans for the cellar.

*Please note, there are 1:00pm and 3:00pm tours of the root cellar.

Both tours are currently sold out–please contact us to get on the waitlist.

Photo by Jessie Santala

Heart Mountain Hike:

Heart Mountain is a unique and striking feature in the landscape of the Bighorn Basin. Named by the Crow people for its resemblance to a buffalo heart, it is a geological mystery as older limestone lies atop younger strata—somehow it became separated from larger masses of similar formations found sixty miles away in Yellowstone National Park.

We are offering a guided hike up Heart Mountain this year on Thursday, July 28. The hike itself will take approximately 6 hours round trip, but with travel time to and from the trailhead, plan on a full day of activity–the bus will be departing the Holiday Inn at 8:00am for those using our transport. There is a fee of $35 to cover the cost of transportation and a sack lunch.

This hike is approximately 8 miles round trip and requires a high level of fitness as it is fairly strenuous on the upper end with a series of switchbacks. It is recommended you bring plenty of water and sunscreen and wear a hat and proper hiking boots & clothing. It is completely exposed for the first part of the trail (no shade), then the more vertical switchback portion provides more cover with trees, while the top of the mountain is open again which provides wonderful views of the Bighorn Basin, but can be windy and cooler.

The Heart Mountain Hike is currently sold out–please contact us to get on the waitlist.

Friday, July 29

The official opening of this year’s Pilgrimage begins with a film screening of new documentary Omoiyari, introduced by composer/musician Kishi Bashi. This will take place at the Wynona Thompson Auditorium in downtown Cody, leaving participants well-positioned to explore the town a bit during the lunch break and to choose from a variety of restaurants around Cody’s main street, Sheridan Avenue. 

The afternoon will feature a choice of five Educational Sessions. These sessions will explore the history of Japanese Americans in animation, showcase new efforts to document and present the history of the incarceration, and give attendees a chance to hear from and talk with some of the leading authors writing about Japanese American history today.

Following the Educational Sessions and Multigenerational Discussions, there will be a break for dinner on your own. The evening will conclude with a screening of Fugetsu-Do. This charming short documentary is an intimate portrait of a sweet shop that has been an anchor for the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo since 1903. A discussion with Brian Kito (sweet shop owner and Heart Mountain descendant) and the filmmaker, Kaia Rose will follow the film.

Omoiyari: A Songfilm

In his new documentary, acclaimed violinist and songwriter Kishi Bashi studies and grapples with Japanese American incarceration and assimilation, on his journey to understand what it means to be a minority in America today. Using never before seen archival footage from the camps, mixed with breathtaking visual storytelling, Kishi Bashi weaves a story using history, music, and current events to create a portrait of America from the perspective of someone caught between two worlds. A short Q&A with Kishi Bashi & his co-director, Justin Taylor Smith, will follow the screening.


The Japanese American Memoryscape Project

The Japanese American Memoryscape Project is a digital storytelling and mapping project that centers land, memory, and layered stories within the histories of Japanese American incarceration. By focusing on Department of Justice sites, citizen isolation centers, and U.S. Army internment camps, the Memoryscape Project, created by Erin Aoyama & Nicole Sintetos, engages with questions of citizenship, white supremacy, settler colonialism, carcerality, and racial capitalism to bring the complexities and nuances of Japanese American confinement sites out to broader publics.

Show Me the Way to Go Home

Photographers Sandy Sugawara and Catiana Garcia Kilroy discuss their four year project to photograph the Japanese American incarceration camps, how the project evolved and the amazing people they met along the way. Show Me the Way to Go Home captures the unique story of each camp through original and archival photographs, personal stories, and government documents.


Photo by Evan Kodani

Memories of Heart Mountain

Sam Mihara is a second-generation Japanese American who received the 2018 Paul A. Gagnon prize for best history educator. His parents were born in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. Sam was born in the early 1930s and raised in San Francisco. When World War II broke out, the U.S. Government forced Sam and his family to move, first to a detention camp in Pomona, California, and then to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where they stayed for three years. Sam’s family lived in a single room, measuring 20 feet by 20 feet, for their entire imprisonment, which he will discuss in his talk. He also explores the root causes and the legacy of Japanese American incarceration.

Authors of Incarceration

Join some of the leading authors writing about the Japanese American experience today for an enlightening conversation about their works and its inspirations. This year’s panelists include Frank Abe (We Hereby Refuse), Shirley Ann Higuchi (Setsuko’s Secret), Susan Kamei (When Can We Go Back to America?), Douglas Nelson (Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp), and Alden Hayashi (Two Nails, One Love).

Multigenerational Discussions:

These small group discussions will give participants a chance to reflect on the Japanese American confinement experience, and express their thoughts in a safe, supportive, small group environment. Former incarcerees and others who experienced the camp first-hand will be invited to speak first, but all participants—of all ages and ethnicities—will be encouraged to share.

Friday Evening Film Screening: Fugetsu-Do

Fugetsu-Do is an intimate portrait of a sweet shop that has been an anchor for the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo since 1903. The ingredients of the brightly-colored pieces of mochi-gashi that line the shop’s wood-paneled cases include so much more than rice flour and sweet bean paste. Mixed inside are stories of joy and pain, tradition and racism, legacy and loss. Survival is never easy; it’s complicated and messy, full of contradictions and surprises. In the three generations that the Kito Family has been running Fugetsu-Do, the store has become a memory bank for the community and the stories that line its walls could not be more relevant in today’s America.

Saturday, July 30

Saturday will begin with a brief flag ceremony and opening remarks. Following this, activity choices for the morning and early afternoon will include guided tours and talks led by former incarcerees and Heart Mountain staff at three possible locations around our National Historic Landmark site: the original hospital grounds (with its iconic red chimney); the memorial, honor roll, and walking trail; and our original Heart Mountain barrack.

Attendees can also use this time to explore the interpretive center, a great opportunity to explore our permanent exhibit and the special exhibit Bob Kuwahara & the Nisei Animators. Jon Amakawa will also be leading walking tours of the augmented reality he developed for Heart Mountain.

After the catered lunch, we’ll hold a Groundbreaking Ceremony for The Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain, the brand new addition to the Interpretive Center. Heading back to Cody in the late afternoon, Pilgrimage participants will have a chance to mingle and commence the evening with a cocktail hour. Dinner will come next, either on your own or at our Sayonara Banquet, for those who choose to attend this event. The Pilgrimage will then wind down with a dessert reception.

The Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain:

As we wrap up our celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and the 25th anniversary of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, we are excited about the construction of The Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain, which will offer a dedicated space for workshops and programming specifically designed to foster empathy, courage and cooperation among our nation’s next  generation of leaders. We are inspired in this endeavor by the  accomplishments and—most of all—the friendship of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Senator Alan K. Simpson, who met as young boys at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp during World War II and have spent decades putting aside their political differences to work together and better the lives of all Americans.  

The new expansion will also house the LaDonna Zall Research Lab, where researchers will make use of original  archives and artifacts in the Heart Mountain collections. This space is dedicated to the memory of our friend and  benefactor, LaDonna Zall—who, as a young girl, witnessed the last train carrying the incarcerees away from the confinement site—with gratitude for all she did to preserve these important memories.

Blue rectangle featuring logo for the Mineta-Simpson Institute
The Mineta-Simpson Institute, a new wing of Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, is designed to evoke the architecture of the camp’s communal mess halls.



When it opened in 1942, the hospital complex on top of the hill could care for up to 150 patients. The hospital’s boiler house chimney is one of the most iconic structures of the former incarceration site. Explore the medical experiences of incarcerees at this original structure.

Memorial & Honor Roll

The Honor Roll lists all Heart Mountain incarcerees who served in the military during WWII (as well as WWI and the Korean War). After hearing about this structure, participants will have the opportunity to tour the Setsuko Saito Higuchi Memorial Walking Trail, which features images and facts about the original layout of the confinement site.


Learn about life and camp experiences in the barrack setting. This original barrack building was brought back to Heart Mountain in 2015 and has been undergoing restoration work since then. 2022 is the first summer it will be open to the public.

Sayonara Banquet:

After three days of sharing, learning, discussing, and exploring, enjoy a final evening of socializing by catching up with old friends and solidifying new friendships made throughout the event at a cocktail hour, the Sayonara Banquet,* and a dessert reception!

*The Sayonara Banquet is now sold out. The cocktail hour and dessert reception are included with all registrations, so please join us for those events!

Travel Information:

Our host hotels in Cody are the Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, and Buffalo Bill Cabins. They have rooms available at a discounted rate which can be obtained by mentioning that you will be attending the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage.

Cody, Wyoming has an airport (named Yellowstone Regional Airport—YRA) that is served by United Airlines with connecting flights through Denver, CO. The next closest airport is in Billings, Montana, which is approximately 90 minutes away by car. If you’re flying through Billings, you will need to make arrangements to rent a car at that airport as there is no public transportation between Billings and Cody.

For more information regarding travel arrangements for getting to and around Cody and Powell, Wyoming, you can visit www.codyyellowstone.org.

Archives & Collections Donations:

If you are considering bringing artifacts, documents or photographs from camp to the Pilgrimage for donation, please contact the Registrar beforehand.

Cancellation Policy:

If you need to cancel your registration anytime between now and June 9, 2022 we will issue a full refund, less a $50.00 processing fee.

If you cancel between June 10 and June 30, 2022, we will issue a 50% refund, less the $50.00 processing fee.

The HMWF will waive these cancellation fees, on an individual basis, for those who have health or other serious issues.

If the 2022 Pilgrimage is cancelled for any reason, the HMWF will issue full refunds to all registrants.