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On music

[Playing violin]

I’ve been playing violin since I was seven maybe? But I never…I never thought it could be a profession.

I was pretty heavy into classical music in high school, as well as metal, which is what everybody my age was into. After that I went to jazz improvisation and so I really got heavy into improvisation which is a very social art form.

My parents encouraged, I went to engineering school first and I flunked out, but they knew how much I loved music, so they let me go…

I think I use it as a shield to hide behind. Because if I didn’t have my music I feel like I’d be kind of worthless. That might be a part of, maybe my minority identity…that’s hiding behind my skillset.


identity music musicians violins

Date: August 21, 2018

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Sharon Yamato

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Kaoru Ishibashi, who performs as Kishi Bashi, is a Shin-Nisei musician, composer, and songwriter, born in Seattle, Washington and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia. He attended Berklee College of Music and became a renowned violinist.

His film project, Omoiyari (Empathy), led him to places such as Manzanar, Tule Lake, the Japanese American National Museum, and Japan to learn about Japanese American and Japanese World War II history. Omoiyari explores how empathy and the lack of it has played key roles in our modern quest for social equality. (March 2019)

Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki
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Robert (Bob) Kiyoshi Okasaki

Grandmother's influence on decision to go to Japan

(b.1942) Japanese American ceramist, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years.

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Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro
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Masakatsu Jaime Ashimine Oshiro

A Possible Path towards Happiness… (Spanish)

(1958-2014) Former Bolivian Ambassador to Japan

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

What is Nikkei? (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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Masako Iino
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Masako Iino

Learning from Nikkei (Japanese)

Tsuda College President, researcher of Nikkei history

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Nickname

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Context affects meaning

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Mike Shinoda
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Mike Shinoda

First experience writing music

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

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James Hirabayashi
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James Hirabayashi

Testing assumptions of Japanese scholars

(1926 - 2012) Scholar and professor of anthropology. Leader in the establishment of ethnic studies as an academic discipline

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Steve Kaji
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Steve Kaji

FOB's

Hawaii born Nikkei living in Japan. English Teacher at YMCA.

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Venancio Shinki
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Venancio Shinki

Prejudice in Japanese school (Spanish)

(b. 1932-2016) Peruvian painter

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Mike Shinoda
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Mike Shinoda

Connecting to Japan

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

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Mike Shinoda
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Mike Shinoda

Politics in music

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Appreciating Kinnara Taiko's approach to taiko

Senshin Buddhist Temple minister and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko.

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

A Japanese American gardening dance

Senshin Buddhist Temple minister and co-founder of Kinnara Taiko.

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PJ Hirabayashi
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PJ Hirabayashi

Feeling empowered by taiko

Co-founder and creative director of San Jose Taiko

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