plant2 Documenting the west coast Nikkei experience [and beyond] from the viewpoint of a hapa Nikkei graphic designer, editor, photographer, taiko player & teacher.

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Chibi Taiko in Onomichi

IMG_2901There was a moment towards the end of the July 25 performance by Chibi Taiko and Onomichi’s Betcha Taiko that will be forever etched in my memory. The two groups were playing a piece together called Ishizue, an original Betcha composition that Chibi members had learned over the course of the past week. Night was falling as the nearly three dozen drummers filled the small public square in Onomichi’s shotengai (shopping district) with a thick wall of sound. The young Chibi drummers were playing with a ferocity and sense of purpose I had never witnessed before. As the piece drew to a conclusion, the drummers swooped low to the ground, their faces glistening with a combination of sweat and exhilaration. I was surprised at the emotion that welled up in me. A lump came to my throat as I watched the members of Chibi Taiko, including my two daughters, give everything they had to a common purpose in the true spirit of taiko. At that one moment, the members of the two groups—who shared a common heritage but little else—emphatically bridged the cultural divide.

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A Canadian Nikkei In Japan

Japan_0079As our family walked through the international arrivals terminal at YVR on our way home from Japan at the beginning of August, my daughter Kaya looked at me and said, “People are so rude in Canada!” As we’d only been back on Canadian soil for 20 minutes or less, the judgement seemed rather harsh, but I knew what she meant.

I remember arriving home after my first trip to Japan in 1982 and having that same feeling—of standing in the middle of a crowded downtown mall and feeling, not exactly frightened, but uneasy . . . unsafe somehow. Which was strange, considering that I was back on familiar ground. I came to realize that after spending some time in Japan, you become accustomed, if only subconsciously, to a certain way of interacting with others, even if they are only strangers on a crowded street. There is a respect for personal space that is perhaps born out of having to live in such close proximity to one another.

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Katari Taiko 30th Anniversary Concert

KT_30Rekishi (Histories)
30 Years of Katari Taiko
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2pm
The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street
$20 (general) / $15 (students & seniors) / $10 (12yrs & under)
+ service charges
For tickets call The Cultch box office at 604.251.1363 • www.thecultch.com
For info call 604.683.8240

When Katari Taiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a concert at the newly refurbished Cultch (formerly the Vancouver East Cultural Centre) on November 1, it will mark three decades of dedication to not only the art of drumming, but the community that gave birth to the group.

Katari Taiko rose out of the burgeoning Asian Canadian movement of the mid-seventies, a time when many younger Japanese and Chinese Canadians were beginning to actively question their identities and to explore their Asian heritage. Tonari Gumi was open for business on Hastings Street; Sakura-so, a home for Japanese Canadian seniors, had opened on Powell Street; the Japanese Canadian Centennial Project had published A Dream of Riches, a photographic history of the community; the Japanese Canadian Centennial in 1977 had given rise to the annual Powell Street Festival.

A performance by San Jose Taiko at the 1979 Powell Street Festival was the catalyst for the formation of Katari Taiko, the first group of its kind in Canada. A Japanese group, Ryujin Daiko, had performed at the inaugural Powell Street Festival and the world-renowned ensemble Ondekoza had performed several times in Vancouver, but they were clearly Japanese in both their approach and aesthetic; while they were to be admired, they seemed somehow out of reach. San Jose Taiko, on the other hand, was something else again. As young Asian Americans, they exuded an energy and exuberance that was both inspiring and accessible. The majority of the group were also women, defying the stereotype of the passive Asian female—something that struck a chord with many in the Japanese Canadian community. Following their performance, the members of SJT actively encouraged the formation of a local group and with that, the taiko seed was officially planted on Canadian soil.

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2009 Road to Asia Festival

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
showcases the best of Asian culture at ninth annual
Road to Asia Festival

Saturday, November 7, 11am – 5pm
Sunday, November 8, 11am – 5pm
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
6 Garamond Court , Toronto , Ontario

(Don Mills and Eglinton, north east of the Ontario Science Centre), 416-441-2345
Admission:  Adults $5, Seniors and Students $3, Children 12 years and under – Free with adult accompaniment
Free onsite parking

Continue reading 2009 Road to Asia Festival

Gauche, the Cellist by Kenji Miyazawa

Public Performance of Gauche, the Cellist by Kenji Miyazawa
(Translated and Adapted for Double Bass by Ron Hadley)

Gauche, the Cellist, a short story written in the 1920s by the well-known Japanese poet and author Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) will be presented as a multi-disciplinary (narration, mime, dance and music) performance

GaucheMonday, October 5, 7:00 PM
The Old School House Arts Centre
122 Fern Road West, Qualicum Beach, BC
250-752-6133  www.theoldschoolhouse.org

part of that organization’s 5th annual Harvest of Music (October 2nd – 7th) festival (www.harvestofmusic.com.)

Although this story is most often categorized as children’s literature, it has exhibited lasting, worldwide charm and appeal to people of all ages.  Gauche, the Cellist is about a frustrated cellist in a semi-professional small town orchestra that is rehearsing for its upcoming performance of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (the Pastoral Symphony). Each night when Gauche returns home to his shabby, little shack next to an old watermill to practice and practice into the wee hours after another day of being scolded for his incompetence by the conductor, the cellist is visited by various local animals. These strange and enchanting dreamlike visitations gradually transform Gauche’s frustration into a more constructive and beneficial awareness of how music and compassion can bring contentment and good health to all beings in the world.

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Japanese Cultural Fair in Victoria

The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society presents

Japanese Cultural Fair Saturday October 24 Esquimalt Recreation Centre

527 Fraser Street Free Admission Enjoy traditional and non-traditional food, arts and crafts, Japanese tea and live entertainment: Japanese Tea Ceremony, Delicious Sushi and Manju, Ikebana Demonstration, Bonsai Display, Traditional Arts & Crafts, Children’s Activity Area, Taiko [...]

JCNM Exhibit Opening

Komori_Speier_Postcardopening night reception
Friday, September 25, 6-8pm

BROKEN ONLY AT SKY
LEMON CREEK MAP PROJECT

Japanese Canadian National Museum
6688 Southoaks Crescent in Burnaby
604 777-7000

The show runs from Sept 18th – mid Nov.

This is a wonderful exhibit–two exhibits, actually. I saw them a few years back at the Powell Street Festival, but felt they got lost a bit in the outdoor context. They both really come alive in the museum setting. Check it out!

¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨

My Interview with Leslie Komori

I’ve been to Lemon Creek, or the site of where it was anyway, and it’s just a big field now. Yet at one time it was the largest internment camp, when you count Bayfarm and Rosebury. How did you come up with the concept of the Lemon Creek Map Project?
I went up to Lemon Creek with my mom and visited that same field. As you saw, there really is nothing much there, nothing to mark four years of thousands of peoples’ lives. There are depressions that mark the former locations of outhouses and metal spigots. But that’s about it. I was hoping that my mom could locate the location of her house but the lack of landmarks disoriented her.

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Katari Taiko 30th Anniversay Concert

Rekishi (Histories) 30 Years of Katari Taiko Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2pm The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street

$20 (general) / $15 (students & seniors) / $10 (12yrs & under) + service charges For tickets call The Cultch box office at 604.251.1363 • www.thecultch.com For info call 604.683.8240

Katari Taiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary with [...]

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

The 2009 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is ongoing at various venues around Greater Vancouver. Once again, Chibi Taiko performed at the Cherry jam at the Burrard Skytrain Station, this time with Yaikai Ryukyu Taiko.  As I was performing with Chibi, I couldn’t shoot our set, but I managed to get some good shots of [...]

Ikebana Spring Show

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