A story of faith, enshrined in stone
Kado’s confinement at Manzanar left a lasting impact on him. In 1961, he told the Saturday Evening Post that he no longer wanted to work on private wealthy estates as he had done before his internment. Instead, he would commit himself to his Catholic faith, and to creating beauty in unlikely places. Indeed, after leaving Manzanar, Kado and his wife, Hama, eventually moved back to Los Angeles, and he dedicated himself to making Catholic grottoes with lava rocks. His defining work—a massive grotto—is said to be at Holy Cross.
So as pandemic restrictions eased this spring, I made a pilgrimage to see it. The grotto was impressive, comprising a 30-foot-tall cave and a 400-foot-long rock wall. Afterward, I found the grave marker for Kado, who died in 1982, and Hama. The surface of the stone had been worn away to the point of obscuring their surname. Time and the elements had taken their toll.
Yet, Kado’s stonework lives on—at Manzanar, and around Southern California. Somehow, during what had to be a painful time at Manzanar, Kado had managed to create beautiful works. And somehow, the experience inspired him to create more beauty later in life. It was, I thought, a lesson for us all—especially after the year we’ve just endured.