Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/731/

Parents didn't accept me playing taiko in the beginning

Personally, my parents didn’t have no clue or idea what I was doing. In the very beginning, I was still at home and stuff. “What are you doing?” and stuff like that. First of all, “Why are you working at this Amerasia Bookstore?” and stuff like that. I’m not making any money… Then playing taiko, like, “What are you doing playing taiko? You’re not going to make any money. You got to go and get a real job.” Then I got into playing with Hiroshima—same thing. “Why don’t you go out and get a real job? How you going to make any money.” All that stuff. So even though they say these kinds of things, again, it’s very, very cautious. They’re very nurturing. They want to kind of help you out, but they’re not exactly sure.

The resources in which they’ve had, and in the resources that we had at that particular time, weren’t that many, meaning that there was nobody that I can go and talk to. “How do I get into to do this? How do I get into perform this? How do I make a living being a professional, so-called, musician? How do we do this? How do we gain this access?” So there was none of these resources at that time. So naturally, you’re treading on new water. So then, very cautious of how you went about doing this. So they were very, very concerned. But now I think it’s very accessible. It’s a thing in which taiko, you can gain a lot of people to come out and check it out.


arts drum music taiko

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)

Funai,Kazuo
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Funai,Kazuo

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

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Tanaka,Seiichi
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Tanaka,Seiichi

Understanding Sansei taiko (Japanese)

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

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Tanaka,Seiichi
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Tanaka,Seiichi

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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Tanaka,Seiichi
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Tanaka,Seiichi

Handmade taiko (Japanese)

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

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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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Akiyama,Nosuke
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Akiyama,Nosuke

Rediscovery of Japanese culture through taiko (Japanese)

Shishimai (Lion dance) and Taiko player with San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

The reason he came to the United States (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo

First taiko performance in the United States (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

Differences in taiko style (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

Originality of each taiko group (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

Benefits of living in the United States (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

Promoting group identity through taiko contests (Japanese)

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

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Hongo,Etsuo
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Hongo,Etsuo

Taiko's sounds as Japanese cultural tradition (Japanese)

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

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Endo,Kenny
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Endo,Kenny

Differences between Kinnara and San Francisco Taiko Dojo

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

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Endo,Kenny
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Endo,Kenny

Being free of the tradition

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

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