Want to get a photo in v2.0 of my book, “Being Japanese American?”

gil-ukulele

Japanese American friends: Help me make the revised edition of “Being Japanese American” the best book it can be!

I’m looking for photographs of the Japanese American experience, to include in the revised 2015 edition of my book, “Being Japanese American.” Not just portraits but photos that capture our lives as JAs. Here are some examples of things I’m looking for:

gil-selfportraitIt would be great to have photos of festivals, cultural classes, church or temple services, JA food (family dinners), holiday get-togethers (July 4th, New Year’s!), community picnics, JA sports teams or players, JAs playing music (like me above), JAs in traditional Japanese clothes maybe at obon but also JAs in American clothes (kids playing in jeans and t-shirts), JAs at tourist spots like Disneyland, JAs with long hair from the ’60s or ’70s (like me at right in my pretentious art school self-portrait), JAs with ’80s hair, or dressed up for prom or homecoming….

If Stone Bridge Press uses your photo, they will send you a free copy of the book, when it’s published in June, 2015.

Please scan your photos at high resolution (300 DPI is ideal) and email them to me at gilasakawa@gmail.com, with an explanation of who is in the photo and what’s going on. I’ll send them to the publisher, and they will make the decision on which ones to use.

Thanks everyone!

Sandra Oh’s next career move: producing, raising funds for animated feature “Window Horses”

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Earlier this year, Sandra Oh made a graceful exit from the hit television series “Grey’s Anatomy” after 10 seasons as the talented, loyal, driven and mercurial surgeon Cristina Yang. In the final episode of the 10th season, Oh’s character left the Seattle hospital where the drama takes place, and took a job at a clinic in Switzerland, of all places. The new season began without her this fall.

Oh hasn’t been slacking off since her departure from one of the most celebrated ensemble casts in Hollywood, though. She immediately took to the stage in Chicago, for Argentinian-Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s drama “Death and the Maiden,” in the lead role that was played by Glenn Close on Broadway and by Sigourney Weaver in a film adaptation by director Roman Polanski. Oh also appeared in a small part in Melissa McCarthy’s comedy, “Tammy” this year.

And now, she’s trying a new role, as executive producer of an animated film, “Window Horses,” and trying to raise money through a crowdfunding campaign for the project on Indiegogo.

The film tells a multicultural story of a mixed-race Asian Canadian young woman, Rosie Ming, who is half Chinese and half Persian, who’s invited to Iran to participate in a poetry festival and finds herself on a journey to discover her roots, find her identity and learn the truth about her father.
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The students protesting for their high school history curriculum are fighting for JAs, too

Hundreds of Lakewood High School students, including this one, left their classrooms in September to protest a proposed history curriculum they believed would lead to censorship. Students organized the walkouts using social media sites like Facebook. Photo by Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat Colorado

Hundreds of Lakewood High School students, including this one, left their classrooms in September to protest a proposed history curriculum they believed would lead to censorship. Students organized the walkouts using social media sites like Facebook. (Photo by Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat Colorado)

I grew up as part of a generation that found our collective voice in protest, for African American civil rights, against the war in Vietnam, and to advocate for women’s and LGBT rights and Asian American studies.

College students have been at the forefront of many of these social movements. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee was a cornerstone of the civil rights movement. College students led the free speech movement at the University of California at Berkeley, and the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society was formed at the University of Michigan. Students led protests across the globe, including the Prague Spring in 1968 all the way to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Even the Taiwan protests earlier this year and the current and Hong , Kong democracy protests.

But in Colorado where I live, my admiration goes out to a group of high school students, who have been protesting in Jefferson County, the school district where I graduated in the 1970s.
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If you have these things you must be JA

THINGS_JAPANESEAll the Japanese Americans I know have all sorts of ways to show their cultural roots. It may not be evident when you meet them, but the signs are there, in their homes.

When I was a kid living in Japan, it never occurred to me that the stuff in our house was… well, Japanese. And when we moved to the U.S., we took a lot of our stuff with us – folding screens, small artworks, dolls, dishware, pottery, chopsticks and cooking utensils, and a lot more.

Once we moved into a suburban Northern Virginia home in the mid-1960s, we set about fitting in to our all-American Wonder Years life: nice ranch home, big back yard, all our Japanese stuff inside. Oh, except for my dad built a Japanese rock garden in the back yard complete with a stone lantern, and he planted a cherry blossom tree in the front yard, which bloomed every spring at the same time the famous cherry blossoms that were given to the US.

That tree has grown huge in the decades since – I’ve seen photos, and it looks like a giant fluffy ball of pink cotton candy that dominates the yard, and hides most of the old house behind it.
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Mudra Dance Studio’s “Gyaan” deserves to be seen at the Kennedy Center and other national venues

mudra-gyaan

“Gyaan” is not your typical showcase of energetic classical and contemporary Indian dance, which Mudra Dance Studio has become known for. It is, but it’s much more too.

The stage at the Lakewood Cultural Center, where Mudra has hosted many of its elaborate, every-other-year professionally-produced shows in the past decade, is partially filled with a backdrop of boxed-in platforms that serve as bandstands for the musicians. The boxes are white before the show, but once the house lights dim, they become three-dimensional screens for a complex visual interplay of videos that help tell the story that’s primarily told through dance in the front part of the stage.

This 3D multimedia richness is just one of the factors that sets “Gyaan” apart from a typical community dance recital, and even a level higher than Mudra’s typically impressive Indian showcases. It was so expensive to produce that the group launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the production (it was only for a small fraction of the cost).

With “Gyaan” — Sanskrit for “knowledge through experience” — Mudra founder Namita Khanna Nariani has a message she wants the audience to absorb: that in today’s world of violence and tragedy, people have to come together and support each other. It seems trite to say it, but this show is about how love and community and art can save us all.
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