I just had a great meal at our favorite restaurant in San Francisco’s Japantown, Iroha. It’s a noodle house that serves up a great deal: A lunch combination special of ramen topped with a couple slices of pork, and gyoza dumplings on the side.
The restaurant is more crowded than usual, and filled with lots of non-Japanese who are here for the first time. That’s because J-Town in general is hopping this weekend. It’s the second weekend of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, or Sakura Matsuri. There are vendors with booths selling everything from junky trinkets to high-class jewelry, lots of food and stages of performers and martial arts demonstrations, all with a Japanese focus.
But there’s also a Japanese American undercurrent, with young people flocking to stores that specialize in anime and Jpop music. It’s a cool mix of traditional and contemporary — much like J-Town itself. Continue reading
Members of the Grateful Crane Ensemble’s “Moonlight Serenaders” in “The Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories,” include (front row) Keiko Kawashima and Jason Fong; (back row) Kurt Kuniyoshi, Darrell Kunitomi and Haruye Ioka. (Photo by Phil Nee)
You wouldn’t think that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II would make for great source material for a stage musical. But it does, and in a way, makes a much more effective vehicle to tell people about that time, and what happened to JA families, than heavier, dramatic works such as the novel and movie, “Snow Falling on Cedars.”
“The Camp Dance: The Music & the Memories” is proof that internment can be explained in an entertaining way through a musical.
Written and produced by Soji Kashiwagi, a sansei, and performed by his Grateful Crane Ensemble of actors, the play combines narration (the actors announcing what’s going on on the stage), acting (there’s plenty of terrific, believable and historically accurate dialogue), music and dance to entertain and educate audiences about the internment experience. Continue reading
|Bill Hosokawa in 2005, sitting next to a caricature at the Denver Press Club
Bill Hosokawa died of natural causes at age 92 in Sequim, Washington, where he lived with his daughter. He was a pioneering Japanese American journalist, author and diplomat who lived in Denver for 60 years.
Those are the facts of Bill’s life and death. But there’s lots more to Bill than just the facts.
I wrote an obituary for Bill that will run in the Pacific Citizen, the newspaper of the Japanese American Citizens League, the APA civil rights organization. Bill was a leader within the JACL, and a columnist for the PC for decades. I’m the editorial board chair for the newspaper, and a national board member of JACL, and I knew Bill because we’d run into each other at many events in Denver. So it made sense for me to write the obit for the PC.
But I also owed it to Bill to write about him because he was a role model for me as a writer — we both wrote columns for Denver’s Japanese community newspaper (he kept his up long after I ran out of juice and got too busy). I wrote about Bill’s influence on my career years ago, in one of my columns. Continue reading
Wow, it feels weird, but I’ve finally written a new Nikkeiview column, the first in a year and a half. I’ve just been too busy (I know, it’s a lame excuse), but by writing these Nikkei Blog posts, I’ve been inspired to finally sit down and write a longer column.
It helps that I went last weekend to southern New Jersey with a JA group to Seabrook’s annual Bon Odori dance. Read the column here, and let me know what you think. Continue reading
Here I sit in my rental car, mere yards from the water. I’m waiting for the Bainbridge Island Ferry in Seattle — I missed the last one by just seconds and the next one leaves in an hour.
Bainbridge Island is the place captured poetically in the book and movie, “Snow Falling on Cedars” (which means, come to think of it, that it snows in Seattle, at least sometimes). Continue reading