Performing Defiance: The Hidden Legacy of Koto Music at a Japanese Internment Camp


ACTA - Posted on 04 October 2017

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My grandmother, Masaye Ishikawa Hori, loved the sound of the koto. She could hear the Honnami family playing kotoshakuhachi (bamboo flute), and shamisen (3-stringed lute) in their barracks, right across her own barrack located in Topaz, Utah, one of ten World War II Japanese American internment camps. 

She thought it would be nice for her daughter to learn. She then asked Mrs. Honnami if she would teach my mom, but Mrs. Honnami said she didn't take students. Then my grandmother found Haruko Suwada, who lived on the opposite side of the camp. Topaz was a town of about 9,000 people, so it was quite a distance for my mom to travel for her lessons. She would sometimes hitch a ride on one of the open trucks going by to make her walk shorter to her koto lessons, which she attended two or three times a week.

> CLICK HERE to view Shirley's full story for ACTA on Atavist.

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Wonderful article, thank you for sharing your music and heritage.

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