Arts center on hold while commercial developments move forward

SAN JOSE — As San Jose’s Japantown finally sees construction begin at the site of the city’s former Corporation Yard and its historic Chinatown, community members expressed hope as the long-delayed project is now pouring concrete. Part of the development, however, has been put on hold, with costs becoming too high to move forward on […]

Deconstructing intersections of Asian America

DRUMMING ASIAN AMERICA: TAIKO, PERFORMANCE, AND CULTURAL POLITICS By Angela K. Ahlgren (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018, 198 pp., $34.95, paperback) Up until 2004, I was a mere (and rather unreflective) spectator to taiko drumming. However, that year I fortuitously became involved as an oral historian in a Japanese American National Museum-sponsored project that […]

San Jose Taiko reflects upon its evolution in community-centered arts

As the iconic San Jose Taiko approaches their 45th anniversary concert later this month, the Nichi Bei Weekly caught up with Executive Director Wisa Uemura and Artistic Director Franco Imperial via e-mail to discuss the group’s transition from its founding pioneers, their approach to creative collaborations, and what the future has in store for the […]

Matt Ogawa perpetuates the cultural arts and gives back with a purpose

Whether motivating a group into action or expressing his love for his own Japanese American heritage through his involvement in a myriad of cultural activities, Matt Ogawa doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Decades ago, his grandfather, the late Frank H. Ogawa, was a popular civil rights leader and longtime Oakland City Council member […]

Tiffany Tamaribuchi’s multifaceted Sacramento Taiko Dan family

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — “My mom would say from the time I could walk, I would stand in front of the taiko,” said 51-year-old Tiffany Tamaribuchi, recalling her earliest encounter with the drums at a Sacramento Obon festival. Her captivation with the Japanese drum would lead her to establish Sacramento Taiko Dan in 1989 at just […]

Let’s Talk About … Honoring the dead

Obon season is upon us. It is when our Japanese American communities gather to share an ancient Buddhist tradition to honor the spirits of our ancestors. In Japan, it is a time when families return to their ancestral family homes to visit and clean their ancestors’ graves. It is thought to be the time when […]

Cherry Blossom Festival celebrating 50 years and embracing the future

San Francisco’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary with organizers hoping to present a celebration of Japanese culture that is bigger than ever. This year, the two weekend-long event will host a 50th anniversary gala, more than 200 guests from Japan and expanded entertainment, including a scavenger hunt. Richard Hashimoto, who previously […]

PLAYING FOR COMMUNITY: San Jose Taiko founders P.J. and Roy Hirabayashi

Known both locally and internationally, P.J. and Roy Hirabayashi were among the latest inductees to the Hokka Nichibei Kai (Japanese American Association of Northern California) Bunka Hall of Fame during its annual New Year’s party Jan. 28, alongside fellow San Jose’s Japantown cultural arts icon Reiko Iwanaga (Reimichi Hanayagi). The Hirabayashis, founders of San Jose […]

THE TAIKO TRAVELER: Kristy Oshiro teaches taiko and builds community

When professional taiko artist Kristy Oshiro prepares to drive to a neighboring city to teach classes, she puts a bucket of bachi (taiko drumsticks) on her passenger-side seat, 15 drum stands in her trunk and stacks 15 practice taiko (drums) in the back seat of her Honda Accord. “And safely! I can still see out […]

Ei Ja Nai Ka: A ‘good’ taiko collaboration

SAN JOSE — Those planning to attend an Obon festival this year might experience “Ei Ja Nai Ka,” a unique and high energy taiko performance that combines song, dance, chanting, and of course, taiko drumming. The title, “Ei Ja Nai Ka,” literally translates to, “Isn’t it good?” or more directly, “It’s good!” The performance was created […]

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