Arts & Entertainment

CAAMFest serves up sweet memories with ‘Benkyodo’

Though the line did not extend around the block like the final days of the iconic Japanese confectionery, a crowd of guests lined up May 12 for Benkyodo, San Francisco’s now defunct manju shop in Japantown. However, instead of glutinous mochi, the crowd at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California was waiting […]

Canadian filmmaker explores a gap in family history

Filmmaker Natalie Murao contemplates the conversation she never got to have with her grandfather in “Blue Garden” (2022, 5 minutes). The hybrid-doc-animation tells the story of Murao’s grandfather, a Japanese Canadian fisherman who was incarcerated during World War II. The Vancouver-based filmmaker first thought about creating the film in 2020 after she returned home at […]

‘Oyakodon’ captures a Japanese restaurant heartbreakingly on the brink

“Oyakodon” (2022, 17 min.), a short film directed by Roxy Shih, is a quiet and somber look at a Japanese restaurant in decline. Mama, the owner, opens up the dark eatery and puts out a sign with the day’s special, oyakodon, on the sidewalk outside. The titular dish is appropriate for the film: Oyakodon is […]

CAAMFest’s Rea Tajiri Retrospective screens three of this groundbreaking filmmaker’s art

The films of Rea Tajiri, including her latest documentary, “Wisdom Gone Wild” and her first avant garde film, “History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige,” as well as her co-written indie narrative film, “Strawberry Fields,” are not the product of a typical filmmaker or documentarian. These three films are being shown in CAAMFest’s Retrospective Spotlight, […]

‘Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story’ does justice to the late photographer’s legacy

Anyone who isn’t immersed in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community may not be familiar with the name Corky Lee. But to AAPI community organizers and Asian American journalists, the name is legendary. Corky Lee, who decades ago gave himself the title of “undisputed unofficial Asian American photographer laureate,” died in January 2021 at […]

Kina Grannis has streamed her way to musical stardom, now has a health crusade

Kina Grannis is a successful singer-songwriter who’s redefined the parameters of “fame.” Her songs are acoustic, gentle and dreamy. She’s not a rock and roller. She doesn’t play arenas with stacks of amplifiers. But she has toured the world playing her music. Grannis has released albums that are downloaded and streamed by millions of fans. […]

Rooted in Community: San Jose’s Asian American taiko turns 50

For half a century, San Jose Taiko has supported San Jose’s Japantown with its driving beats. Although internationally renown as a performance ensemble, the group has stayed close to its roots in community organizing. Though much has changed since its inaugural format as an activity for the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin’s Young Buddhists Association, […]

Ohara grandmaster’s lifetime of teaching

After first being encouraged to take lessons from her aunt in Japan, Hisako “Shofu” Shohara embarked on a lifelong appreciation of nature through the art of ikebana. Jane Matsumoto, her eldest daughter, said her mother, at 94-years-old, still has a sharp mind as she continues to exhibit and teach for the Ohara School of Ikebana. […]

‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ blasts into theaters with more action than ever

No one watches Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick” franchise films expecting artistic depth and thoughtful social commentary. Nevertheless, those components are actually in each movie, in a subtle way, as motivators for Reeves’ character. But let’s face it, people don’t care about his sensitivity. They watch him play the soft-spoken assassin for non-stop action and eye-popping […]

‘Dancing Moons Festival’: A celebration of AAPI artistic vision in ballet

“Dancing Moons Festival,” hosted by the Oakland Ballet for the second year in a row, opened March 17, in collaboration with the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. The program features dances choreographed by all-Asian American Pacific Islander choreographers, and the world premiere of “Exquisite Corpse,” a merged ballet program co-choreographed by Phil Chan, Seyong Kim and […]