Yuki Sato Lee, aka Fujima Rieyuki

This past September, Bob and I drove to Los Angeles to interview Yuki Sato Lee, aka Fujima Rieyuki, Japanese buyo dancer. Along with our filmmaker Josh Fong, we met Yuki and her husband, David Lee, for lunch prior to the interview. David is a very friendly fellow, who owned the popular restaurant, General Lee’s, in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, and is an important and active person in the Chinese-American community.

Bob and I had interviewed Yuki a few years ago when I was collecting interviews, doing my own research on the Japanese performing arts in the camps. Yuki is still very beautiful, but when she showed me earlier photos of herself, I was amazed how stunning she looked! Here, she portrays a doll, made by a toymaker, portrayed by Bando Mitsusa, also interviewed in Hidden Legacy. The doll comes to life, and what a gorgeous doll she was!

Yukie at age 12, dancing at Minidoka camp

We produced a Hidden Legacy show a couple of years ago featuring live performances of koto, buyo, biwa and nagauta shamisen, performed largely by the internee artists, or students of artists and teachers from the camps. To represent buyo, Bando Mitsusa was going to perform, but had to cancel at the last minute. Yuki then graciously stepped in, and performed a beautiful dance called, “Hakusen”, or “White Fan”.  I worried about her that day because she walked into the hall using a cane. But when she danced, she was a “vision”! I truly appreciated her efforts, working on the dance at the last minute.

She and David are very happy grandparents to two grand-daughters; photos of the beautiful girls dominate the wall of family photos in their home.

I found a photo of Yuki and her mother’s buyo group (her mother’s buyo name is Nishikawa Kikuharu) “Yayoi Kai”, at Minidoka. See if you can find Yuki (she was about 12 years old).

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