"Happy Holidays"

November 13 at the SFVJACC
Misora Hibari Tribute Show a Hit in the San Fernando Valley

San Fernando Misora Hibari fans were treated to a nostalgic afternoon of greatest hits and movie memories at Grateful Crane’s tribute show held on Sunday, November 13 at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center.

Presented by the JACL’s Pacific Southwest District, the two-act show featured the singing talents of Haruye Ioka, Keiko Kawashima, Merv Maruyama, Helen H. Ota and Fusako Shiotani, and an outstanding trio of musicians including Musical Director/keyboardist Scott Nagatani, drummer Danny Yamamoto and keyboardist/acoustic guitarist Hiro Morozumi.

Together, they performed many of Misora Hibari’s most popular songs, and told the story of the popular singer and actress who for over 40 years delighted audiences across Japan and around the world. Perhaps her greatest achievement, though, was the hope, inspiration and strength she gave to the Japanese in Japan and Japanese Americans in America, who faced extreme hardships in rebuilding their lives after WWII.

After the show, audience members said they were deeply touched.

“I learned a lot about Japanese Americans that I didn’t know before,” said a Shin Issie woman originally from Japan. “More Shin Issei need to see this show.”

“I knew every song,” said another woman, smiling.

2016 GoodWill Tour
Grateful Crane Ensemble Brings Joy to Tsunami Survivors in Tohoku, Japan

Earlier this Summer, Grateful Crane journeyed from our home base in Los Angeles to Tohoku, Japan to sing songs of hope and inspiration for tsunami survivors on the fifth anniversary of the disaster.

“After our first goodwill tour in 2014, we knew we wanted to continue to support the people of Tohoku,” said Soji Kashiwagi, Grateful Crane’s Executive Producer. “We are so grateful to our community for all their support. We couldn’t have done this without them.”

Hundreds of donors and supporters from the Nikkei community in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country all contributed to the ten-day tour which took place from June 16 to June 26.

“On behalf of our community, we were able to deliver this message to the people: You have friends in America and we have not forgotten you,” said Kashiwagi.

Twenty Grateful Crane members—performers, musicians, crew, board and supporters—took part in our second goodwill tour. Over seven days, we performed a total of 12 shows in Fukushima, Minamisanriku, Ishinomaki and Kesennuma. We sang Misora Hibari and Japanese favorites for seniors in temporary housing facilities, nursing homes and a Buddhist temple. We also performed songs for children and youth at a children’s home, nursery schools, and for people with special needs at a day care center.

“It’s hard to describe in words the emotional impact our being there had on the people, and how the strength and spirit of the people touched and inspired members of our group,” said Kashiwagi. “The people knew every song we sung. They clapped and sang along, they laughed, they cried….it was these one on one human connections that meant the most to them, and to us.”

In Fukushima City and in three towns throughout Fukushima prefecture, this message was particularly well-received by the people—mainly seniors—who are still living in temporary housing despite the fact that five years have gone by and the issue of nuclear radiation exposure is something they are dealing with everyday.

“It’s scary because this is something we cannot see, but we know it’s there,” said a woman at a Fukushima temporary housing facility. When she asked us if we were concerned about coming to Fukushima because of the radiation, we said: “We were concerned about it, but we’re more concerned about you and how you are doing. Please take care.” With that, five residents bowed to us and said “Arigatounai.” (“Thank you,” in regional dialect.)

In Minamisanriku, we asked our friend Jun Suzuki what more we could do to help. He said people’s needs vary from person to person. “One thing you can do is to keep the people of Tohoku in your hearts and come visit us.”

For the local people, support like this goes a long way for them, especially since recovery is still years away.

“I lost everything,” said one woman. “We are deeply touched that you have come all this way to do this for us.”