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Taiko considered "Jazz" in the Philippines

From there (Tokyo), we went to the Philippines. And then in the Philippines, this is right before Marcos was still there. So this is in ’81. So we go from one of the most secure and safe countries in the world, and we took this plane to the Philippines. We got off the plane. At the bottom of the walkway, there was two guys standing there with machine guns. Oh man, it was hot, and we came from snow in Japan. So we go, “Wow, this is like total contrast.” Not only the weather, but the environment that we’re going to be in. The Pope was going to be there in February. So he had declared martial law off. So then he didn’t know how the country was going to react. So then they had all these armed guards.

We did not know at the time, but we had the number one song, called “Holiday,” in the Philippines because the Philippines outlawed all rock and roll. They only allowed some pop and some jazz. We were considered to be jazz. So then all of a sudden, we get into this motorcade, and we were getting driven around the city. People were on the streets yelling and screaming because we were in town.


drum Hiroshima (city) Hiroshima Prefecture Japan Philippines 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)

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

Understanding Sansei taiko (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

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

Handmade taiko (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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Nosuke Akiyama
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Nosuke Akiyama

Rediscovery of Japanese culture through taiko (Japanese)

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

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

The reason he came to 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

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

Differences in taiko style (Japanese)

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

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Originality of each taiko group (Japanese)

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

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Etsuo Hongo
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Etsuo Hongo

Benefits of living 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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