'Growing up Sansei' Will Delve Into Topics Which Resonate With Japanese American Community

Published : Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | 5:00 AM

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“Growing up Sansei,” a community event and dialogue among members of the local Japanese American community, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 28, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Pasadena Buddhist Temple’s Sakai Hall, at 1993 Glen Avenue in Pasadena.

Presented by the temple in partnership with the Grateful Crane Ensemble, “Growing up Sansei” combines a live reading of Soji Kashiwagi’s comedy/drama “Garage Door Opener” and a community dialogue facilitated by Dr. Satsuki Ina, a Northern California-based psychotherapist who specializes in cross-cultural counseling and trauma.

“It’s what I call my Japanese American dysfunctional family play,” said Kashiwagi, playwright and executive producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble. “Just the mention of this has brought smiles and sometimes hysterical laughter from baby-boomer Sansei who grew up in the post-war Japanese American family environment. Our GUS (Growing Up Sansei) events delve into why this topic resonates so deeply.”

Sansei, which literally means “third generation,” is a term used to specify the children of children born to ethnic Japanese in a new country of residence.

In 2016, the San Fernando Japanese American Citizens League hosted the first “Growing up Sansei” event at the San Fernando Japanese American Community Center with 300 people – most of whom were Sansei – in attendance. In 2017, 400 showed up in Sacramento, 425 in San Jose and 400 in San Francisco. In total, over 2,000 people statewide have attended the event thus far.

In “Garage Door Opener,” the audience meets a Sansei brother and sister faced with the daunting task of cleaning out their parents’ garage and house after both have passed away. As they sift through dozens of tofu containers, kamaboko boards and broccoli rubber bands, they begin to uncover items from their past they knew nothing about. In the process, they begin to gain a better understanding of their parents – and themselves – by the items their mom and dad left behind.

Dr. Ina will discuss these issues as well as the trauma Japanese Americans faced in camp, and how it manifested itself in the ways the Nisei (second generation) brought up their Sansei children. For many years, she has conducted groups for Japanese Americans who, like herself, were children in camp. She has seen first-hand how trauma has affected the Nisei, and how it was unknowingly transmitted to the Sansei and subsequent generations.

The cast for the reading includes long-time Grateful Crane members Haruye Ioka, Dian Kobayashi, Kurt Kuniyoshi and Shaun Shimoda, with stage directions read by Ping Wu. Members of Grateful Crane’s Yonsei acapella group, The Grateful 4, will also be on hand to sing a couple of ’60s and ’70s-era songs to set the tone for the reading.

General admission is $35 for reading, discussion, no-host bar and dinner. The temple youth groups will also hold a Bake Sale.

To purchase tickets using cards or PayPal, visit www.pasadenabuddhisttemple.org and use the Buy GUS Ticket Now button or download an order form for check or cash payments. You may also request an order form by calling the Pasadena Buddhist Temple at (626) 798-4781.

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