Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | arts
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When the Japanese Canadian newspaper Nikkei Voice asked me to write about my favorite recent books related to Japan, I realized that I've read some books in the past year that I never got around to writing about, and was also finishing an innovative new book, or to be precise, a new ebook. In any case, I tend to read many...

For my role as social media fellow for AARP's Asian American Community, I've had the pleasure of meeting, speaking with and writing about some exceptional people. Here's another in a series of pieces I'm cross-posting from the AARP AAPI Community Facebook page that I manage: Frances Kakugawa’s new book was perfectly timed, to be published in November for National Caregivers Month....

Japanese American friends: Help me make the revised edition of "Being Japanese American" the best book it can be! I'm looking for photographs of the Japanese American experience, to include in the revised 2015 edition of my book, "Being Japanese American." Not just portraits but photos that capture our lives as JAs. Here are some examples of things I'm looking for:...

rosie-sandra Earlier this year, Sandra Oh made a graceful exit from the hit television series "Grey's Anatomy" after 10 seasons as the talented, loyal, driven and mercurial surgeon Cristina Yang. In the final episode of the 10th season, Oh's character left the Seattle hospital where the drama takes place, and took a job at a clinic in Switzerland, of all places. The new season began without her this fall. Oh hasn't been slacking off since her departure from one of the most celebrated ensemble casts in Hollywood, though. She immediately took to the stage in Chicago, for Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman's drama "Death and the Maiden," in the lead role that was played by Glenn Close on Broadway and by Sigourney Weaver in a film adaptation by director Roman Polanski. Oh also appeared in a small part in Melissa McCarthy's comedy, "Tammy" this year. And now, she's trying a new role, as executive producer of an animated film, "Window Horses," and trying to raise money through a crowdfunding campaign for the project on Indiegogo. The film tells a multicultural story of a mixed-race Asian Canadian young woman, Rosie Ming, who is half Chinese and half Persian, who's invited to Iran to participate in a poetry festival and finds herself on a journey to discover her roots, find her identity and learn the truth about her father.

THINGS_JAPANESEAll the Japanese Americans I know have all sorts of ways to show their cultural roots. It may not be evident when you meet them, but the signs are there, in their homes. When I was a kid living in Japan, it never occurred to me that the stuff in our house was… well, Japanese. And when we moved to the U.S., we took a lot of our stuff with us – folding screens, small artworks, dolls, dishware, pottery, chopsticks and cooking utensils, and a lot more. Once we moved into a suburban Northern Virginia home in the mid-1960s, we set about fitting in to our all-American Wonder Years life: nice ranch home, big back yard, all our Japanese stuff inside. Oh, except for my dad built a Japanese rock garden in the back yard complete with a stone lantern, and he planted a cherry blossom tree in the front yard, which bloomed every spring at the same time the famous cherry blossoms that were given to the US. That tree has grown huge in the decades since – I’ve seen photos, and it looks like a giant fluffy ball of pink cotton candy that dominates the yard, and hides most of the old house behind it.

mudra-gyaan "Gyaan" is not your typical showcase of energetic classical and contemporary Indian dance, which Mudra Dance Studio has become known for. It is, but it's much more too. The stage at the Lakewood Cultural Center, where Mudra has hosted many of its elaborate, every-other-year professionally-produced shows in the past decade, is partially filled with a backdrop of boxed-in platforms that serve as bandstands for the musicians. The boxes are white before the show, but once the house lights dim, they become three-dimensional screens for a complex visual interplay of videos that help tell the story that's primarily told through dance in the front part of the stage. This 3D multimedia richness is just one of the factors that sets "Gyaan" apart from a typical community dance recital, and even a level higher than Mudra's typically impressive Indian showcases. It was so expensive to produce that the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the production (it was only for a small fraction of the cost). With "Gyaan" -- Sanskrit for "knowledge through experience" -- Mudra founder Namita Khanna Nariani has a message she wants the audience to absorb: that in today's world of violence and tragedy, people have to come together and support each other. It seems trite to say it, but this show is about how love and community and art can save us all.

godzilla2014 Although Hollywood has been making monster movies since the original 1933 “King Kong,” the monster with the most staying power and screen incarnations didn’t come out of California, but from Tokyo. Godzilla is back with another cinematic reboot produced by Hollywood featuring the usual array of mega-special effects, including a digitized monster instead of a man in a monster suit. Whether costumed or computer-generated, Godzilla is the most famous Japanese American in the world. He’s starred in 28 movies, stomping his way through cities on both sides of the Pacific. Godzilla, or the Japanese pronunciation, “Gojira” (a combination of the words for gorilla, “gorira” and whale, “kujira”) made its first Japanese appearance 60 years ago, in 1954, but the film was edited and scenes inserted starring Raymond Burr as an American journalist for its 1956 release in the U.S. as “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”