Panel Discussion - Home, Heartbreak, and Hope - Reflections on the Japanese American Experience in Sierra Madre and the San Gabriel Valley

On Sunday, January 21, 2018

Published : Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 5:40 PM

L-R: Amy Uyematsu, Dr Mitchell Maki, Naomi Hirahara

Sierra Madre Playhouse will host a Panel Discussion “Home, Heartbreak, and Hope – Reflections on the Japanese American Experience in Sierra Madre and the San Gabriel Valley,” on January 21, 1:00 p.m. This event is presented in connection with the run of the play “Nothing is the Same” by Y York directed by Tim Dang at Sierra Madre Playhouse (January 19 – March 4, 2018). Admission to the panel discussion is free.

Home, Heartbreak, and Hope – Reflections on the Japanese American Experience in Sierra Madre and the San Gabriel Valley – A Discussion with Poet Amy Uyematsu, Dr. Mitchell Maki, President of the Go For Broke Educational Foundation, moderated by author Naomi Hirahara.

The play Nothing is the Same by Y York is set in Hawaii at the time of Pearl Harbor and dramatizes the way life changed for four 11 year olds in Hawaii at the outbreak of World War II. One of the children is of Japanese heritage and the action centers around the way friendship is challenged when the country of Japan becomes the enemy. In contrast, this panel looks at the true stories of Japanese Americans, not in Hawaii, but right here in California and how Pearl Harbor changed the lives of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast at the time of the war and afterwards.

Amy Uyematsu, a sansei (3rd-generation Japanese American) teacher and poet, was born and raised in Pasadena/Sierra Madre from 1947-1965. Growing up, her family lived behind the Sierra Madre Library and on her family’s Star Nurseries property, which was located just south of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center. Her grandfather, Francis Miyosaku Uyematsu, built a flourishing wholesale nursery business in the 1930′s, with sites in Montebello, Manhattan Beach, and Sierra Madre. When the Uyematsu’s were sent to Manzanar, her grandfather sold his large camellia inventory to publisher Manchester Boddy; those camellias comprised a substantial part of Boddy’s Descanso Gardens. A graduate of UCLA, Amy has five published collections: 30 Miles from J-Town; Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain; Stone Bow Prayer; The Yellow Door; and Basic Vocabulary.

Dr. Mitchell Maki is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Go For Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, a nonprofit foundation that educates the public on the valor of Japanese American veterans of World War II and their contributions to democracy. A native of Monterey Park, Calif., he previously served as a vice president of academic affairs; a dean of two colleges; and a professor at California State University Los Angeles, California State University Dominguez Hills, and the University of California Los Angeles. An expert on the Japanese American redress movement, Dr. Maki is the lead author of the award-winning book, Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress (University of Illinois Press, 1999), a case study of the history and passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. He has served on the boards of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Inc., Advisory Board to the California State Librarian, Civil Liberties Public Education Project, and the Japanese American National Museum. Dr. Maki holds a bachelor of science degree in public administration, a master’s degree in social work and a doctorate in social work, all from the University of Southern California.

Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of two mystery series set in Los Angeles. Her Mas Arai series, which features a Hiroshima survivor and gardener, has been translated into Japanese, Korean and French. The final novel in the series, Hiroshima Boy, will be released by Prospect Park Books in 2018. The first in her Officer Ellie Rush bicycle cop series received the 2014 T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award, while her debut middle-grade book, 1001 Cranes, won honorable mention in youth literature from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, she also writes nonfiction and curates historical exhibitions. For more information, go to

The Panel Discussion will be held on Saturday, January 21, 2017, 1:00 p.m. at Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre.

Nothing Is the Same. A play by Y York. Directed by Tim Dang. Produced by Estelle Campbell and Christian Lebano for Sierra Madre Playhouse. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. This is just east of Pasadena. There is ample free parking in a lot behind the Playhouse. Opens Friday, January 19, 2018 and Saturday, January 20 at 8:00 p.m. (Show is double-cast and will have two Opening Nights.) Thereafter, every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. through March 4. Also, Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. on February 24 and March 3. Admission: General $30. Seniors (65+) $27 .Youth (20 and under) $20.

For reservations contact (626) 355-4318 or visit to purchase tickets online.






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