Music

Mark Izu’s ‘Songs for J-Town’ evokes memories and hopes

Mark Izu assembled performers from across the United States and spent years putting together “Songs for J-Town,” but he only expected around 60 people to attend the April 23 world premiere at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco when he scheduled the show during the height of the omicron surge. Instead, more than 400 people […]

Mark Izu’s reflective journey through music with ‘Songs For J-Town’ April 23

Nichi Bei Weekly Report Award-winning jazz musician Mark Izu will present his latest concert “Songs for J-Town,” featuring a personal reflection of his nearly five-decade musical journey, April 23 at the Presidio Theatre in San Francisco. He recently sat down with the Nichi Bei Weekly to discuss the project, and what it means to him. […]

Pioneering NYC taiko group Soh Daiko continues to transform itself

It’s another snowy Saturday afternoon in New York, but this has not kept members of taiko group Soh Daiko from holding their normal practice. As the days relentlessly beat toward their Carnegie Hall citywide performance at the end of March, members follow hours of drills and practice with a run through of their performance, energetically […]

Japanese joy

Japanese joy. When offered these words separately, Japanese and Japanese Americans understand them, but presented together — as they were at the recent virtual event entitled “The Story Circle of the Japanese Diaspora” — the concept generates a question in the minds of many Nikkei: “What is that?” “I thought it was strange to hear […]

TAIKOPEACE: A movement for connection and community

Last year, San Jose Taiko’s artistic director emeritus and long-time community activist PJ Hirabayashi launched the Website for a movement she calls TaikoPeace. According to Hirabayashi, TaikoPeace is a movement of Japanese traditional drumming for social change and empowerment. Over the past couple of years, Hirabayashi has spread the movement through creating shared values, guided […]

CONTINUING TRADITIONS: The evolution of koto artist Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto

Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto is literally in the middle of three generations of a family of koto teachers. Rising through the ranks over the years, she was awarded her Dai Shihan master’s degree from the Chikushi Kai Koto School in Fukuoka, Japan in 2000, and was inducted into the Hokka Nichibei Kai Bunka (Japanese Culture) Hall […]

Nobuko Miyamoto releases new double album, ‘120,000 Stories’

On the first track of Nobuko Miyamoto’s brand new double album, “120,000 Stories,” the long-time musician and community activist sings these words from her Asian American Movement song, “We are the Children”: “Sing a song for ourselves. What have we got to lose?” After 50 years of using the arts to create social change and […]

Asian American Orchestra to celebrate Black History Month, commemorate DOR with new work

Anthony Brown, who is of African and Japanese heritage, will commemorate the intersection of his biracial identity as part of a 20-year retrospective of his Grammy-nominated Asian American Orchestra Feb. 18 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, celebrating Black History Month and observing the Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance reflects upon the 76th […]

THE EVOLUTION OF G YAMAZAWA: From Buddhism in the South, spoken word to hip-hop

Poet and rapper George Yamazawa, Jr. — known by his stage name G Yamazawa — performed at the Nichi Bei Foundation’s seventh annual Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival in San Francisco June 17. Prior to his performance, the 26-year-old native of Durham, N.C. took a few moments to talk about his life and work. […]

Ukulele master dedicated to narrowing Japan-U.S. culture gap

TOKYO — If any barriers are hindering Japan and the United States from achieving ultimate social harmony, Jake Shimabukuro hopes that his music can break the ice. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, the Japanese American ukulele virtuoso gets the best of both worlds with a ‘Wa’ on the outside and ‘Aloha’ on the inside. “I […]

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