The roots of Camp Musubi began with the Ties that Bind and Nikkei 2000 conferences of the early 2000s when the Nikkei community was looking to preserve cultural heritage and build leadership. Later, in April 2002, nearly 60 Nikkei community leaders met to discuss and settle on a plan to conduct an extensive “Nikkei Heritage Camp” program which would meet several goals:
Camp Musubi held its first summer program in 2003 and has impacted hundreds of youth and their families over the years.
In the past, Camp Musubi was 5 days, but to make camp more accessible for families living throughout Southern California and to reduce drive time to and from Little Tokyo, we are now offering a two-day camp in Little Tokyo.
Activities include a combination of cultural experiences, workshops, games and community service. Past camp activities have included taiko, tanabata making, kendo, karate, ukulele lessons, papermaking, sushi and musubi making, shibori (Japanese tie-dyeing), Japanese calligraphy, hip hop dancing, New Year’s food, theatre games, poetry, bon odori, guided Little Tokyo tours and mochi making.
Guest speakers have included cultural artists, community leaders, athletes, as well as representatives from community groups and organizations. Japanese American filmmakers, writers, performers, historians, and Manzanar Camp survivors have all shared their stories with campers and helped them create their own memories.
Past participants have gone on scavenger hunts through Little Tokyo and visited various sites such as the Manzanar National Historic Site, the Japanese American National Museum, Terminal Island and Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSULB, Tanaka Farms, San Fernando Japanese Community Center, Visual Communications, Little Tokyo Service Center, and The Rafu Shimpo. As campers age out of Camp Musubi, many stay involved in Little Tokyo and join high school-age groups Project Community, Bridging Community and Rising Stars.