Hi! My name is Vicky Murakami-Tsuda. I'm the Web Manager at the Japanese American National Museum. I grew up in Southern California and have been coming to Little Tokyo for family, food, and events since I was little. I plan to contribute to this Little Tokyo blog by sharing my own stories about Little Tokyo -- programs & events I attend, restaurants & stores I frequent, and other stuff. I hope you enjoy!
For my first entry, I'm going to write about this past Saturday (May 17, 2008) which was a very busy (and hot!) day in Little Tokyo. Over at the JACCC, there was Kodomo no Hi activities and Nikkei Community Day booths and events. I was hoping to head over there, but unfortunately didn't end up having time and never made it over.
At the Museum, we held a public program in conjunction with Nikkei Community Day. It was a program called From One Generation to the Next: Families Intersecting with History. It turned out to be a really great program. Mitch Maki had a conversation-style discussion with Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (researcher extraordinaire who found the key documents that were critical to the vacating of the WWII coram nobis cases, as well as to redress -- if your family received a check, give thanks to Aiko!); her daughter Lisa Abe Furutani; Lisa's husband Warren Furutani (currently State Assemblymember for California’s 55th District); and their two sons Sei and Joey. It was a really inspiring program and so interesting to listen to their stories. I found it really interesting to see Aiko so riveted listening to her family speak about what it means to them to be part of this incredible family. We videotaped the program, so hopefully we'll be able to add them online soon.
Aiko and Warren have both spoke often in the public, but not sure how much Lisa, Sei, and Joey have. It was really interesting to hear their stories and perspectives about how each of them became involved in the community -- for Aiko, it came later in life after WWII in NY. She shared how hearing Warren (who would later become her son-in-law) speak inspired her. Warren shared stories about his grandfather being a Nisei and his grandmother a tough schoolteacher on Terminal Island and how that shaped his father's personality, which in turn shaped his. He also talked about how he became involved and active in community issues. Lisa shared stories about the formation of her sense of identity and how there were moments that helped change how she saw herself. Sei and Joey both shared what it was like growing up as part of this family.
There's an essay that Joey had written while at UCLA that partly inspired this program up on Discover Nikkei called Embracing History. We'll be adding video clips from the program to our site. I'll be posting the links when they're ready to view. Thanks to everyone who participated and attended!
So...that was what I did in Little Tokyo during the day. After the program, my husband and I went out to dinner at TOT on 2nd Street with his parents who had come for the program (it turns out my husband is distantly related to Aiko. His grandmother and Aiko were first cousins!).
After dinner, his parents went home and we hung around until 8pm when we headed over to East West Players to see Pippin. We are season subscribers every year, but I was amazed to see so many people in attendance! Usually, it's not as crowded early in the run, but the good write-ups in the LA Times and other publications must have brought out a lot of new people which was really exciting to see. The musical was incredible...and done only in a way that EWP could do. The original play is set in France, but although the names and places are still from the original script, visually by the background images and the costuming, it's set in Japan. It's a combination of feudal and modern anime style (check out the link above to see photos of the costumes) mixed in with hip-hop versions of the songs. The dancing includes hip-hop choreography mixed in with some martial arts moves. Now, I'm curious to see what the original version was like so I can compare to see what they changed. If you get a chance, go check it out. We really enjoyed it.