Rebuilding Museum of Forced Labor History in Japan

The Sasanobohyo Museum of Forced Labor History which is housed within the Kokenji Buddhist Temple is located in Shumarinai, a small village in the northernmost island of Hokkaido (Ainu homeland), Japan. 

During the Asia-Pacific War, Imperial Japan invaded and oppressed many communities in Asia. The colonization against Korean people was particularly violent; it was a coordinated operation to wipe out Korean culture, language and history. 

In the 1940s, Kokenji Temple was a small community Buddhist temple that also served as a site where hundreds of people, many of them brought from Korea, were laid after they were killed at a local dam construction site. Locals said that bodies of young laborers were laid overnight in the temple hall before they were taken to nearby mountains for burial. Their remains were left forgotten for decades until in May 1980 a group of local historians and religious leaders conducted a very first excavation of human remains in order to return the remains to families in Korea and Japan. In 1995, the temple was renovated and transformed into the Sasanobohyo Museum of Forced Labor History, as a museum that sheds light on the history of forced labor during WWII, as well as a community gathering space where thousands of people have gathered, participated in excavation workshops, discussions and debates to overcome legacy of colonial violence which we still feel and see today. 

In February 2019, the temple building was damaged due to heavy snow on its rooftop, and in the follow in winter in January 2020, it finally fell to the ground. After many discussions, our team decided to start a 2-year project to raise funds to rebuild a new museum and a community space.

Sasanobohyo Museum is perhaps the only museum in Japan fully dedicated to the history of forced labor. Since the 1990's thousands of people across Asia and beyond gathered at Sasanobohyo Museum and we'd like to continue offering a space where people can gather, build relationship from ground-up, to decolonize our human relations of trust and respect, regardless of what governments want us to believe.

Our final goal is US$ 272,000 (30,000,000 yen) which includes:
    ・Reconstruction of the Museum: $209,000
    ・Improvement of the surrounding woods:  $27,000
    ・Renovation of the Temple's housing quarter: $27,000
    ・Promotion & administrative activities: $9,000

While the majority of funds are being raised in Japan, our support team based in the U.S. hopes to raise $9,000 to help with the administrative and outreach efforts. The completion of this project is slated for the fall of 2022. 

Any small amount makes a difference. Please lend your hand in rebuilding this place. Thank you!

44133276_1582669502611157_r.jpegJanuary 2020. After suffering a near-collapse a year prior, the Sasanobohyo Museum finally fell to the ground. The building has lived for 86 years. 

44133276_1586061830191835_r.jpegEvery year since 1998, people from across Asia gathered at the Sasanobohyo Museum to together plow the snow atop the building. While it's sad to see this building go, many of us are excited to rebuild the museum, which we believe will cultivate renewed human relations at this historic site.

About us:
We are part of the Supporters for the Reconstruction of Sasanobohyo Museum of Forced Labor in Japan.
Many of us have participated in excavations, repatriation trip, and various workshops organized around this museum and other parts of Asia. We believe that this is a very special place in Japan whose government leaders have historically dismissed Japan's wartime atrocities and have not taken adequate responsibilities, causing ongoing harms to many including Zainichi Korean migrants and survivors throughout Asia.

Sasanobohyo Rebuilding Committee website (in Japanese)

Sasanobohyo Museum Instagram 

Sasanobohyo Museum Facebook


  • Mallika Govindan 
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Ariel Acosta  
    • $30 
    • 1 mo
  • Franke Vogl 
    • $25 
    • 1 mo
  • makoto tonohira 
    • $10 
    • 3 mos


Sasanobohyo Museum 
Brooklyn, NY
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