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, we have this major stain on our nationhood, and major damage inflicted on huge numbers of our best citizens.  

Given this, you provided a true view of what ‘the arts’ can do:  uplift, sustain, enlarge our worlds, even in a prison environment.  I don’t know why, but all my life I’ve strategized in my “monkey mind” how I might cope with internment. I KNOW that music, creativity, arts of all kinds, friendships, deep conversations, solitude, dutiful work  – all sustain. That’s how I would get through such times. I loved your portrayal of those who managed to thrive in such difficulty. It is uplifting and life-affirming. Those who were shattered by this, the mature men and women who lost so much – too much – and could not cope with the loss, this I also understand. Being raised in a country where we give vast lip-service to individual freedom forms our expectations. When that is taken away, it can shatter our souls. We know this, and understand how devastating internment, and all that led up to it, and all that followed, ruined the lives of vast numbers of good people. However, this was not your main-line story, because you chose to tell about those who soared, or at least remained steady – through art. It is a profound statement, and I thank you. 

January 26, 2015

Berkeley: Documentary looks at forgotten aspect of internment camps
By Lou FancherCorrespondent
Posted: 01/26/2015 03:01:02 PM PST0 Comments | Updated: 2 days ago

Article in San Jose Mercury News

Hillary Jenks, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties
Riverside City College
sent this comment after attending the screening of Hidden Legacy at
the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties on November 19, 2014

With its rich mix of compelling interviews, historical photographs, musical performances, and rare archival film footage, Hidden Legacy offers extraordinary insight into the persistence of traditional Japanese cultural practice among Japanese Americans interned during World War II. Despite intense pressure to reject all aspects of their ethnic heritage, with often harsh consequences for Issei arts masters, many internees nevertheless chose to maintain, or even discover for the first time, Japanese forms of music, theater, dance, and other performative arts. In doing so, they helped bring cultural knowledge, entertainment, purpose, and a renewed self-respect to participants (including crews of backdrop painters and costume makers) and audiences deprived of their livelihoods and civil liberties. Perhaps most remarkable of all, these artists and teachers laid the foundation for a continued engagement with Japanese art and culture among Japanese Americans in the mainland United States in the decades following the war.

Michael Omi, American Sociologist and Professor at UC Berkeley in the Ethnic Studies Department, Asian American Studies, sent this comment after attending the screening of Hidden Legacy at UC Berkeley on Sept. 18th..

“Hidden Legacy fills an enormous vacuum in our understanding of cultural practices among Japanese American “internees” during World War II. Prior to the release of the film, virtually nothing written or recorded had examined and chronicled the ways that the traditional Japanese performing arts were maintained — and indeed thrived — in the midst of incarceration. To survey the ways that Japanese music, drama, and dance were taught, performed, and enjoyed in the camps is itself a major contribution. But the film goes beyond this by situating these artistic practices in the context of the deep contradictions and tragic ironies of camp life itself. The assimilationist agenda of the War Relocation Authority, class and generational divides among Japanese Americans, and conflicting notions of what it meant to be an “American” all shaped the patterns and possibilities for the arts and their expression. Recreation is indeed political. Drawing upon the voices of performing artists, Hidden Legacy underscores the resilience, creativity, and passion of an incarcerated people.”

September 14, 2014

Sunday 5:30 AM KNTV 11.1  and COZI TV 11.2  6 PM
Appearing Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto and Reiko Iwanaga appear on Robert Handa new premier  show Asian Pacific America talking about Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps. to be shown at University of California, Berkeley September 18, 2014 at 2 different showings . (See The Film)


Robert Handa


Reiko Iwanaga, Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto, Robert Handa



April 2, 2014 By JK Yamamoto of Rafu Shimpo
…“This film is their stories. It is about the Japanese Americans who kept the cultural arts alive in the camps, and helped to cultivate the cultural arts, which survived after the World War II camps.
“I’ve interviewed close to 30 people, and they are very rich stories that I feel must be told. Most of them are artists and teachers who practiced the arts in the camps as well as students who learned from these artists. The camps happened over 70 years ago, and I feel the urgency to capture these stories from the survivors of the camps.”…
Future Screenings
Looks like we have a first PBS screening in the works! It will be on KRCB, Rohnert Park. I don’t have the exact date yet, but will keep you abreast of upcoming public TV offerings. Please notify your local PBS station, and let them know that you would like to have this program aired. If there is enough interest, they will be more interested in airing Hidden Legacy in your area!
We are hoping to schedule other community screenings in the near future. If you would like to host one, or know of a group who is interested, please contact Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto Wong at this email address, or (510) 482-1640.
Legacy of loss: In dust of WWII camps, how Japanese culture blossomed
Article from UC Berkeley March 31,  2014, by Barry Bergman
Shirley Muramoto’s ‘Hidden Legacy’ to explore arts in the wartime camps
Article from Nichibei Weekly April 4, 2014, by Laura Ito
East Bay Center for the Performing Arts awarded
Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant
Press release, July 31, 2012
UC Berkeley employee keeps koto tradition alive
University of California Systemwide Newsletter, September 20, 2011
Koto Musician Sheds Light on Little-Known Part of Camp Life
Nikkei West, April 2010
From 2010 Los Angeles Hidden Legacy concert and panel discussion; special guests artists of the camps: Kineya Jyorokusho/nagauta shamisen and odori at Gila River; Fujima Rieyuki/buyo at Minidoka; Kyokuto Kimura/biwa at Tule Lake; Kayoko Wakita/koto at Manzanar; Bando Mitsusa/buyo at Tule Lake; Reiko Iwanaga/obon odori at Amache; Yukino Okubo Harada/buyo at Amache.
How Japanese Americans preserved traditions behind barbed wire
U.C. Berkeley News Center, June 10, 2010
Hidden Legacy: A tribute to teachers of Japanese traditional arts in the wartime WRA camps, April 24
Cultural News: About accessible events of Japanese traditions, April 2010
Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto and Brian Mitsuhuro Wong perform in Hidden Legacy at Old First Concerts
Asian Connections, October 17, 2008