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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/539/

Politics in music

When I was growing up, there was…I always loved the music of Public Enemy and Public Enemy’s a group that is very…was always very politically charged and they wanted to get into topics that people wouldn’t talk about, whether it be the…their disapproval with the response time with 911 or racism in the politics in a certain city at a certain time. They’d always put those things in their songs and I thought. “What a cool thing that we kind of don’t have so much in hip-hop anymore. Or even in rock to a certain degree.”

It would be nice to kind of dig into some elements that are a little more just politically…I think in this case, motivated by history mixed with emotion and personal connection. So the song, “Kenji” was something that I wanted to do because I knew that I had enough information to tell the story and if I didn’t, then I had access to the information and because a lot of people simply don’t know about it and it’s something that I felt that I could just make people aware of.


Fort Minor (band) music

Date: January 16, 2006

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Chris Komai and John Esaki

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

Interviewee Bio

Michael Kenji Shinoda was born and raised in Agoura Hills, a suburb north of Los Angeles, to a Japanese American father and Caucasian mother. He first began studying music with piano lessons at age three. During high school and continuing while a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Shinoda and friends formed a band called Xero. Due to copyright issues, they later renamed themselves Hybrid Theory and ultimately, Linkin Park. Since the 2000 release of their first album, Linkin Park has enjoyed great success. In 2002, they won a Grammy for “Best Hard Rock Performance” for their song “Crawling.” The band won another Grammy in 2006 for their mash-up collaboration with Jay-Z entitled “Numb/Encore.”

In 2005, Shinoda released his first solo effort, The Rising Tied, a hip-hop album that he wrote and produced under the name Fort Minor. One of the songs on the debut album titled “Kenji” was inspired by a visit to the Japanese American National Museum. He interviewed family members who were incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II. Parts of the interviews with his father and aunt are incorporated into the song.

Although he pursued music as his career, Shinoda continues to express his creativity visually. He oversees the design and artwork for all of Linkin Park’s printed and web materials. He has also created artwork for Linkin Park and Fort Minor’s album covers.

Despite his many projects, Shinoda has taken time to support many charities. In addition to starting a scholarship at Art Center College of Design, he has been involved with organizations like United Way, Denshō, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Japanese American National Museum. He participated in Los Angeles’ Nisei Week Parade as the 2005 Honorary Parade Marshal. For his creative contributions to American culture, he was awarded the Japanese American National Museum’s Award of Excellence in 2006. (October 19, 2006)

Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Soukou Bayashi: Dedicated to the Issei (Japanese)

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Taiko philosophy (Japanese)

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

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

First taiko performance in the United States (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Promoting group identity through taiko contests (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Taiko's sounds as Japanese cultural tradition (Japanese)

(1949 - 2019) Taiko player. Founded five taiko groups in Southern California

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Reasons for starting taiko in America

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Meeting Kinnara Taiko

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Happi coats in taiko

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Traditional taiko style

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Japanese musical education

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Differences between American and Japanese taiko

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

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Seiichi Tanaka
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Seiichi Tanaka

Dream of "taiko" in the English dictionary

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

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Alice Sumida
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Alice Sumida

Blue-eyed doll

(1914-2018) Founder of the largest gladiolus bulb farm in the United States.

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Mas Kodani
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Mas Kodani

Changing the taiko rhythm from Japanese to Afro-Cuban

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

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