Comment from Carolyn Cole, San Pablo, CA (after viewing at a home screening)

I was uplifted in watching your documentary masterpiece in that this positive side comes through. What these families endured was an unconscionable breach of what our country is supposed to represent: freedom for all. Fear and ignorance - and small-minded folk - prevailed at a time of national panic and a tendency to racism that, damnably, runs through our many cultures on this earth. “America” was supposed to be better than this, to rise above such ignorance - but it did not, and does not. So, … [Read more...]

Fedde Middle School Goes on to National Competition for National History Day in Baltimore, MD

Note from June Aochi Berk Fedde Middle School from Hawaiian Gardens in South Central L.A. presented their project on the "Executive Order 9066: Rights Denied Over Race." They came to the Japanese American National Museum to research their project. On the day they came to do research at the Museum, I happened to be at the Museum's Democracy Forum Theater for the "Hidden Legacy" Documentary screening (I'm in the documentary because I performed Japanese classical dance in Camp). The girls from … [Read more...]

Arigato Indiegogo Campaign

Our Indiegogo campaign is now over! We raised $15,000+, which will go towards expenses to finish the film, air it on public TV, make the DVDs, and continue to develop the website so it will become a place anyone can go to to learn about Japanese cultural arts. A huge "domo arigato" to everyone who contributed, helped and supported this film and project! The support we received from so many people has been nothing short of incredible, wonderful and heartfelt! If you are interested to holding a … [Read more...]

Kitaro Tamada Letters to Henry Cowell

  photo, courtesy Toyo Miyatake                                                      ©1926, 2014 The Imogen Cunningham Trust Shirley and, husband, Bob, investigate the Kitaro Nyohyo Tamada letters! Last June 2013, I decided to investigate a lead which came to my attention regarding letters written by an Issei (1st generation Japanese immigrant to America) shakuhachi (bamboo flute) teacher and performer, Kitaro Nyohyo Tamada to American composer, Henry Cowell, while Mr. Tamada was … [Read more...]

Master Apprentice Award

A Masters/Apprentice award by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts http://www.actaonline.org/content/apprenticeship-program has been granted this year to my long time koto student, Isabella Lew, and me, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto Wong.  "The Apprenticeship Program encourages the continuation of the state’s traditional arts and cultures by contracting master artists to offer intensive, one-on-one training to qualified apprentices.", is the quote on the website. As people all over the world … [Read more...]

Being An American playing the Japanese koto

Being An American playing the Japanese koto... I used to think that my collaborating with artists from other genres, or incorporating elements from other art forms was something unique to my experience as an American playing Japanese koto in the Bay Area. Upon interviewing and researching these Japanese American cultural artists of the camps, I learned that many of them were doing the same thing from way before, and that incorporating elements and nuances from other art forms is a very American … [Read more...]

Hidden Legacy Film

Now that this documentary film about Japanese cultural performing arts in the camps is almost over, I can't help but reflect on how this all came about. All this happened because of my passion for the art of koto. For a long time, I've been curious about the history, the one that started when my mother learned koto in camp. There were others who had similar experiences. I realized that these stories will die if no one captures them now. I am not an academic, so I can only cover these stories … [Read more...]

Reiko Iwanaga

With Obon season upon us, it seems appropriate that this blog cover the amazing and wonderful Reiko Iwanaga, who we interviewed for the film last year. Not only is she the leader of the San Jose Obon Odori Festival, but she is also executive director of the Contemporary Asian Theater Scene (CATS), a San Jose-based nonprofit committed to presenting Asian Pacific American arts in Silicon Valley, and the owner of a successful events planning corporation, At Your Service. Reiko was introduced to … [Read more...]