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

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Letter to President Obama in support of his efforts to seek "peace and security"

August 6, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.   20500

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you today, on August 6, 2009, the 64th anniversary of America’s dropping of the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, in complete support of your mission “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

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I am a third-generation Japanese American (Sansei), and on that fateful morning  64 years ago members of my Hiroshima family and thousands of others suffered the unthinkable horror of …

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Words I Can Live By: Some Thoughts after the 2009 Tule Lake Pilgrimage

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 30 years of writing, it’s this:  Words matter.

Words, and how they are used, have the power to uplift, soar through the sky and change the world, and the people in it.

“I have a dream,” said Dr. Martin Luther King.

Who can ever forget those words? 

But words, used in other ways, also have enormous power to hurt, kill and send people to the depths of despair.

Adolph Hitler knew the power of his words.

It matters how we use them.

As Japanese Americans, key words were used against us before and …

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Walking Tall in Japan - Sansei writer shares some thoughts and observations about his recent trip to Japan

Walking Tall in Japan

At 6 feet 1 inches tall (185 cm in metric, the accepted system in Japan and the rest of the civilized world), I often felt like a bit of an oddity walking around the streets and country sides of Japan. Some people would look, others would stare with curious smiles, trying to figure out where in the world I came from. The Japanese, we’ve learned, can tell a foreigner from the way we walk, dress and of course, if we open our mouths, the way we talk. We also have a different “air” about us. Even …

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Ghost of Bruce Lee Appears in Dan Kwong’s “Be Like Water”

Over 35 years ago, solo performance artist Dan Kwong remembers the moment martial arts legend Bruce Lee entered his life, and changed him forever.

It was 1972 at the historic Biograph movie theater in Chicago. Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury” was on the big screen and Kwong, a 20-something Asian American male who grew up in the 1960s with no Asian male heroes to call his own, sat there with his eyes popped out and his mouth wide open. When Bruce Lee entered and threw his first punch, Kwong’s world, at that moment, was turned upside down.

“He was magnificent!” …

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Nihonmachi: The Place to Be

If you grew up JA like me, you probably remember going to J-Town as a child. With your parents or Baachan by your side, you went there to buy some Japanese food, maybe had some chow mein and pakkai at the local “Chinameshi,” took in a Samurai movie at the local theater or temple, or played “dime pitch” or “goldfish toss” at the annual Church bazaar.

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And for some, a trip to J-Town meant going to the local Japanese confectionery, where you got to eat your favorite piece of manju. Some of us remember the pink …

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