Soji Kashiwagi

Soji Kashiwagi has written numerous plays, articles, columns and essays on the Japanese American experience, many of which have focused on the WWII imprisonment of the Japanese American community. He's a playwright, co-founder and Executive Director of the Grateful Crane Ensemble, a non-profit theater company based in Los Angeles, CA. With Grateful Crane, he has led three goodwill tours to Tohoku, Japan in 2014, 2016 and 2018 where the group has performed songs of hope and healing for survivors of the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Updated March 2021

food en

In Search of “Chinameshi”

We call it “Old School Chinameshi,” this Cantonese version of Chinese food that Japanese Americans have been eating long before WWII, and several decades after. You won’t find it in most Chinese restaurants today—the homyu, the pakkai, the almond duck…But you mention these dishes to Japanese Americans who remember, and all of a sudden mere words conjure up powerful memories of tastes and smells. With these words, come vivid images of a time gone by, of family who have passed, leaving us longing for that special taste, the trigger that will take us back to the wa…

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Book Review: INFAMY: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

Why, you might ask, do we need yet another book about “camp”? Richard Reeves, author of the recently released INFAMY: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II, explains his reasons in the book’s introduction: “I finally decided to write this book when I saw that my country, not for the first time, began turning on immigrants, blaming them for the American troubles of the day. Seventy years ago, it was American Japanese, most of them loyal to their new country; now it is Muslims and Hispanics.” With what’s happening today as …

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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Grateful Crane Ensemble’s Goodwill Tour to Tohoku, Japan

“How was your trip to Japan?” It’s a question I’ve been asked several times since we returned from our Goodwill Tour to Tohoku last month. “It went really well,” I would say. But after that, I would have a hard time finding the words to describe it. “It wasn’t like your typical tour of Japan,” said one of our group members. This is true. We did do some sight-seeing, but the sights to see in the tsunami-affected towns of Minamisanriku and Ishinomaki are not pretty. The debris has been cleared, but what remains is just mile after mil…

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Letter to President Obama re: Indefinite Military Detention

January 10, 2012The Honorable Barack ObamaPresident of the United StatesThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, D.C. 20500Dear President Obama, Before I begin, I must say that I have the utmost respect for the Office of the President, and I want to thank you for the job you are doing under difficult circumstances and in an oftentimes hostile environment. That being said, I must also express to you my deep disappointment and outrage at your “under the radar” New Year’s Eve signing into law of the National Defense Authorization Act. I know you are aware that…

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Letter to the Muslim American Community 2011

Dear Muslim American Friends,I am writing to you to extend a hand of support and understanding and to let you know that members of the American Muslim community are not alone when it comes to standing up to hate and intolerance in our country. As a third generation Japanese American (aka “Sansei”), I am deeply troubled by the current environment of hate, fear, vandalism, and violence toward the American Muslim community. It is eerily reminiscent of the time during World War II when members of my family and 120,000 Japanese Americans were rounded up after the bombing of Pearl Ha…

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