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Decision between becoming a minister or musician

I studied at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Reverend Kanya Okamoto was there along with Reverend Bobby Oshita, Reverend Ron Kobata, Ken Fujimoto, Ron Miyamura, Ken Tanaka and, actually, the abbot. He came for a summer session also. That’s the head guy now in Kyoto. He came. And we studied together. And we partied together. And we studied together. And we partied together. I went back again in 1974 to follow up some more studies and, again, attended school with other ministers and stuff. At that particular time, ’74, I got into another musical group known as Hiroshima. So I was either going into one direction in terms of becoming a minister or going to the dark side and becoming a musician and I took the dark side. [laughing]


Hiroshima (city) Hiroshima Prefecture Japan music

Date: October 15, 2004

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Art Hansen, Sojin Kim

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

Interviewee Bio

John Yukio “Johnny” Mori is a musician and arts educator/administrator from Los Angeles.

Born November 30, 1949, he is the second son of his Issei father and Nisei mother. As a young man, he was an early activist, draft resistor, and general hell-raiser during the Asian American Movement in the 1970s, and ran the Amerasia Bookstore in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. The shop was a co-operative bookseller that also served as a community meeting place and political action and performing arts venue. Mori went on to travel the globe as a percussionist for the jazz-fusion band, Hiroshima, before retiring in 2003.

Mori is a seminal member of Kinnara Taiko, one of the first Japanese American taiko groups in the United States. For the past 20 years, he has also taught workshops on taiko and Japanese American culture to participants ranging from elementary school to university students. He currently serves as the Producing Director of Performing Arts at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles. (June 13, 2007)

Kazuo Funai
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Kazuo Funai

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Kibei schoolchildren in Hiroshima, Japan

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

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Roy H. Matsumoto
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Roy H. Matsumoto

Difficulties understanding different Japanese dialects

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

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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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Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto
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Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto

Witnessing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima

(b. 1927) Japanese American Nisei. Family voluntarily returned to Japan during WWII.

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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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