RIVERSIDE — The Artswalk Film Series continues with the documentary “Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps” on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 6 and 7:45 p.m. at the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties, 3855 Market St. in Riverside.

The documentary explores how traditional Japanese cultural arts were maintained during the internment of Japanese Americans. Because assimilation and Americanization were strongly emphasized, little is known about the existence of traditional Japanese arts in the camps.

Shirley Muramoto-Wong at a recital of her students in Oakland last January. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)
Shirley Muramoto-Wong at a recital of her students in Oakland last January. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

To produce this film, Oakland-based koto master Shirley Muramoto-Wong collected oral and visual histories and artifacts from artists, all American-born, who became proponents for continuing the traditions in music and dance they loved both during and after the war. She will perform koto between the screenings, and there will be a short Q&A after the film.

“I became interested in the history of the traditional Japanese arts in the American concentration camps during World War II through the experiences of my mother, who as a young Japanese American girl was sent to camps at Topaz and Tule Lake with her family,” said Muramoto-Wong. “It was at these camps that she learned to play the koto. Her intimate story and the story of my grandparents in these camps have always struck a very deep and personal chord with me …

“It is the personal stories – the hardships, ingenuity and personal sacrifices – of these dedicated and talented individuals that need to be told and passed on. Time is of the essence. Many of the artists are in their 80s and 90s.”

For more information on the film, visit http://skmkoto.com/Hidden_Legacy/hidden_legacy.html.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. To reserve a spot, call (951) 222-8846 or email socialjustice@rccd.edu.

The Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties is located in a historic building in downtown Riverside, that was renovated and restored by the Riverside Community College District. The building, which is part of the RCCD Renaissance Block, is home to the Miné Okubo Collection. For more information, visit http://socialjustice.rccd.edu/.

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