Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1195/

Singing the way I sing (Japanese)

(Japanese) My style—this so-called hip-hop style—really reflects the day to day me; the style that I feel represents me on a daily basis. I’ve tried to hold on to the Hip Hop image from since when I started performing Enka. When I try to explain why that is, it really comes down to the fact that when I’m on the stage, I want to perform Enka as myself. I sort of decided that I’d be that way, and I’d like to hold on to that.


enka fashion hapa identity music racially mixed people

Date: March 30, 2010

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Yoko Nishimura

Contributed by: Interview by Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum. Courtesy of Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

Interviewee Bio

Jero (Jerome Charles White, Jr.) was born on September 4, 1981, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. His African American grandfather met his Japanese grandmother as a U.S. serviceman during World War II. They married and had a daughter, Harumi, and eventually moved to his grandfather’s hometown of Pittsburgh. Jero’s parents divorced when he was young so he was raised with a strong sense of Japanese culture. He was introduced to enka by his grandmother and started to sing enka under her encouragment. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, he moved to Japan and worked as an English teacher and as a computer engineer, but started to pursue singing professionally after promising his grandmother that one day he would perform at the Kohaku Uta Gassen, the New Year’s Eve musical special that she enjoyed.

Jero’s mix of traditional enka with a youthful, hip hop style has revitalized a singing style that has been slowly dying out by attracting people from all age groups. He won over many hearts after hearing about his promise to his grandmother and was a highlight of the night when he did appear on the Kohaku Uta Gassen in 2008. He won the Best New Artist award in the Japan Record Awards that year. He has gained popularity among Nikkei and performed for sold-out audiences in the U.S. in 2010.

(March 2010)

Yonamine,Wally Kaname
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Yonamine,Wally Kaname

Working in cane fields as teenager, and how it helped in his athletic training (Japanese)

(b.1925) Nisei of Okinawan descent. Had a 38-year career in Japan as a baseball player, coach, scout, and manager.

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Matsumoto,Roy H.
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Matsumoto,Roy H.

Nickname

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Matsumoto,Roy H.
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Matsumoto,Roy H.

Mixed emotions after declaration of war on Japan

(b.1913) Kibei from California who served in the MIS with Merrill’s Marauders during WWII.

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Abe,George
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Abe,George

Playing for Yourself

(b. 1944) taiko and flute performer

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Tanaka,Seiichi
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Tanaka,Seiichi

Taiko philosophy (Japanese)

(b.1943) Shin-issei grand master of taiko; founded San Francisco Taiko Dojo in 1968.

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Kosaki,Richard
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Kosaki,Richard

Growing up in Waikiki

(b. 1924) Political scientist, educator, and administrator from Hawai`i

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Hirabayashi,Roy
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Hirabayashi,Roy

Introducing Taiko in Vancouver

(b.1951) Co-founder and managing director of San Jose Taiko.

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Hirabayashi,Roy
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Hirabayashi,Roy

The philosophy of playing Taiko

(b.1951) Co-founder and managing director of San Jose Taiko.

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Kogiso,Mónica
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Kogiso,Mónica

Nihongo gakko - Preserving Japanese culture (Spanish)

(b. 1969) Former president of Centro Nikkei Argentino.

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Mizuki,Peter
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Mizuki,Peter

Not wanting to stand out as a foreigner

Sansei Japanese American living in Japan and Kendo practioner

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Yamasaki,Frank
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Yamasaki,Frank

Have compassion for all of humanity

(b. 1923) Nisei from Washington. Resisted draft during WWII.

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Kogiso,Mónica
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Kogiso,Mónica

Identity crisis (Spanish)

(b. 1969) Former president of Centro Nikkei Argentino.

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Kansuma,Fujima
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Kansuma,Fujima

Both Japanese and American identities though Japanese dance

(1918-2023) Nisei Japanese kabuki dancer

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Herzig,Aiko Yoshinaga
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Herzig,Aiko Yoshinaga

Results of being more American than Japanese

(1924-2018) Researcher, Activist

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Endo,Kenny
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Endo,Kenny

Internship on a Native American reservation in Arizona

(b.1952) Master drummer, artistic director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific

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