Discover Nikkei Logo

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/949/

Nisei Swing Kids

So then in camp, I discovered others who were very much interested in, in this kind of music. As a matter of fact, even the assembly centers -- it's amazing -- for example, at Santa Anita, where there were large groups of kids from LA, they had a dance band at the assembly center, organized and going strong. They even had, had jazz concerts at night, playing records, of course. And discovered, or not -- excuse me -- discussed jazz artists at that time who were very outstanding. And it was kind of neat. So you -- so it kind of made me feel good when I heard this, that, and I realized this, was that among the Niseis, there was a small group of people who are very progressive, very much into music, enjoyed swing, jazz, you know, and, of course, classical music, too.

But because of my interests, to discover youngsters, Japanese Americans, Niseis, digging this kind of music... and in camp, somehow -- I don't know whose idea it was, but a dance band was organized, and the recreation department, which was a part of a, an organized part of the whole system in Poston, helped to sponsor a dance band.


Arizona California concentration camps jazz music Poston concentration camp Santa Anita temporary detention center temporary detention centers United States World War II camps

Date: February 18, 2002

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito, John Pai

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

George Yoshida was born in 1922 in Seattle, WA. Prior to World War II, his family moved to East Los Angeles, CA in 1936. Yoshida was incarcerated in Poston, AZ during the war. Yoshida grew up around the Big Band sound and Swing music and while in camp formed a dance band called the “Music Makers” for which he played the drums. Through music, the internees tried their best to keep life as a normal as possible and forget that they were surrounded by barbed wire. In 1943, Yoshida was drafted into the U.S. Army. He married in 1945 and moved to Berkeley, CA where he taught at Washington Elementary School for the next 35 years.

After retiring from teaching in 1987, Yoshida’s started the J-Town Jazz Ensemble, a swing band of Nisei and Sansei musicians. He still plays the drums, but this time, Yoshida uses music to remember the history of Japanese Americans during a period of great hardship. Yoshida is also the author of a book, Reminiscing in Swingtime 1925-1960: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music. (April 15, 2008)

Kazuo Funai
en
ja
es
pt
Kazuo Funai

Buying violin (Japanese)

(1900-2005) Issei businessman

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Soukou Bayashi: Dedicated to the Issei (Japanese)

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Taiko philosophy (Japanese)

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

en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo
en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo

First taiko performance in the United States (Japanese)

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

en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo
en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo

Promoting group identity through taiko contests (Japanese)

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

en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo
en
ja
es
pt
Etsuo Hongo

Taiko's sounds as Japanese cultural tradition (Japanese)

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Reasons for starting taiko in America

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Meeting Kinnara Taiko

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Happi coats in taiko

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Traditional taiko style

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Japanese musical education

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Differences between American and Japanese taiko

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

en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka
en
ja
es
pt
Seiichi Tanaka

Dream of "taiko" in the English dictionary

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

en
ja
es
pt
Alice Sumida
en
ja
es
pt
Alice Sumida

Blue-eyed doll

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

en
ja
es
pt
Mike Shinoda
en
ja
es
pt
Mike Shinoda

First experience writing music

(b. 1977) Musician, Producer, Artist

en
ja
es
pt

Discover Nikkei Updates

NIKKEI CHRONICLES #13
Nikkei Names 2: Grace, Graça, Graciela, Megumi?
What’s in a name? Share the story of your name with our community. Submissions now open!
VIRTUAL PROGRAM
Nikkei Uncovered IV: a poetry reading
Join us virtually and enjoy poetry by Matthew Mejia, Christine Kitano, and Mia Ayumi Malholtra.
PROJECT UPDATES
NEW SITE DESIGN
See exciting new changes to Discover Nikkei. Find out what’s new and what’s coming soon!