Remains Found Turn Out To Be Japanese Man Once Held In Manzanar Camp in 1945

Ryan Nadiak |
Hiker remains
Giichi Matsumura’s grave stone sits in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California. Credit: The Globe and Mail

Setting out on a hike in the mountains can result in discovering many unique and amazing things, but sometimes the unexpected is found instead. This past October two hikers in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains were partway through an alpine traverse when they came across human remains.

As anyone should, they reported their discovery to local authorities as soon as possible.  Due to poor weather conditions, the authorities from Inyo County were unable to recover the remains until nine days later. Upon recovery, the remains were sent to a coroner’s office for examination.

Japanese Remains
A photograph of Giichi Matsumura before his death in 1945. Credit: The Guardian

To everyone’s surprise, the remains belong to a Japanese man who went missing on August 2, 1945, during a fishing trip in the mountains. Giichi Matsumura, 46 years old, was living in the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War Two and had went into the mountains with others from the camp but never returned after a storm hit. A few weeks after his disappearance his body was discovered by other hikers but was not recovered.

Matsumura’s wife sent a burial party up into the mountains to cover his body and the Buddhist Church held a funeral in the Manzanar camp.

The entrance to Manzanar War Relocation Center. One of ten in the United States during World War Two. Photo by Ansel Adams

At the time of Matsumura’s death, his family was able to leave the camp but had nowhere else to go so they stayed until it was shut down late in 1945. This camp was one of 10 concentration camps, or War Relocation Centers, that were established in the United States during World War Two.

After 74 years Giichi Matsumura’s wife was shocked to hear that his remains were found. This is quite a saddening story but we hope that his family can find some closure knowing that his body has been recovered after all these years.

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...