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Hidden Legacy

Sixty-three years have passed since the end of World War II and the incarceration of approximately 112,000 Japanese national and Japanese Americans in “relocation camps.” Though much has been researched and written about what happened in these camps, the story of the brave artists who practiced and taught Japanese traditional arts remains a “hidden legacy.”For one evening only, koto players Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto and her son, Brian Mitsuhiro Wong, with traditional Japanese dancer Bando Misayasu, will present a concert featuring Japanese traditional music and dance as a tribute to those teachers of Japanese traditional arts who taught in the camps. Muramoto and Wong are granddaughter and great-grandson respectively of internees who encouraged the study of the koto at the Topaz and Tule Lake internment camps. Bando Misayasu is continuing a legacy of Japanese dance taught by Bando Mitsusa, who taught traditional Japanese odori to over 140 students at Tule Lake. Although she will not perform, Bando Mitsusa will make a special appearance as part of this tribute. Throughout the program, which will also feature historical photographs, information about the artists who taught in camps and how they were able to sustain their arts in such depressed circumstances will be highlighted, as well as the impact these teachers have had on present day artists and future students.“The reason for organizing this concert,” stated Muramoto, “is that the subject of Japanese traditional music and dance in the camps has been largely overlooked. There appears to be a lingering stigma about this chapter of camp life, possibly due to the fact that practicing Japanese traditional arts in the camps was considered ‘un-American or disloyal, so former internees continue their silence on the subject.”Also appearing in this program will be Reiko Iwanaga, who is the daughter-in-law of Rev. Yoshio Iwanaga who brought Obon odori to the United States, Kazuhiro Watanabe (koto instructor, Miyagi School), Kanow Yofu Matsueda (shakuhachi), and dancers Bando Misamie and Bando Misashizu.

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