A Back Alley Asian American Love Story, of Sorts

A film by Niccolo Caldararo of one of my short stories, starring Bernadette Cha and Norman Toy.
This work was shown at the San Francisco and New York Asian American film festivals and won awards at the 1986 Palo Alto Film Festival, 1987 Ann Arbor Film Festival and 1988 Onion City Film Festival.

Isaku’s concerts and workshops

Taiko drummer and my son Isaku Kageyama has concerts coming up in April and May with his rock group Hybrid Soul.

2009/4/30 LIVE ( HYBRID SOUL)
“Mostly Minyo” at Shinjuku LIVE Takanoya
20:30 (Doors open at 20:00)
TEL: 03-5919-0228
5-2-3 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 160-0022

2009/5/15 LIVE (HYBRID SOUL)
“Mostly Minyo” at Ekoda BUDDY
20:30 (Doors open at 20:00)
TEL: 03-3953-1152
1-77-8-B2 Asahigaoka Nerima-ku 177-0005

2009/5/29 LIVE (HYBRID SOUL)
“Mostly Minyo” at Roppongi EDGE
20:30 (Doors open at 20:00)
Roppongi EDGE
TEL: 03-3505-4561
5-18-21-B2F Roppongi Minato-ku 106-0032

“Mostly Minyo” at Daikanyama LOOP
20:30 (Doors open at 20:00)
Daikanyama LOOP
TEL: 03-6277-5032
13-12-B1 Hachiyama-cho Shibuya-ku 150-0035

He also offers bilingual taiko workshops:

2009/03/31 WORKSHOP
19:00 – 20:30
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space B2 Rehearsal Room
1-8-1 Nishi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021

2009/4/16 WORKSHOP
19:00 – 20:30
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space B2 Rehearsal Room
1-8-1 Nishi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021

2009/4/23 WORKSHOP
19:00 – 20:30
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space B2 Rehearsal Room
1-8-1 Nishi Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021

Your first lesson is free if you say you saw this on his mom’s blog!

My son’s grandfathers

My son is lucky and should be proud in having in his grandfathers from both his maternal and paternal sides men who refused to fight on the wrong side of the war.
His Japanese grandfather made a point of majoring in aeronautics at Nagoya University because that was the only way he could avoid the draft.
He had studied English and loved baseball. He knew war with the U.S. was pointless and disastrous.
He married a woman who worked at a hospital that her parents ran, watching victims of air raids bleed to death in the hallways before they could get treatment.
When the emperor made his announcement of defeat over the radio, people crumbled on the ground and wept.
But my parents were just relieved.
When American soldiers stopped by the hospital, everyone was too afraid to go talk to them, and so my mother went and all they wanted were directions.
Everyone else carried around little pills they were going to swallow to choose suicide over rape and death at the hands of the Americans.
My son’s Japanese American grandfather was in the 442 and fought in Europe in World War II.
He has a Purple Heart and many other medals for his bravery on the missions, including helping the liberation of Dachau.
It was a huge embarrassment for the US that while Japanese Americans were risking their lives in a war to end concentration camps in Germany, they were putting Japanese Americans, many of them families of the soldiers, in Internment camps in the American desert that were far less lethal but no less discriminatory or wrong.
My husband’s father had to leave his wife in Minidoka Camp.
There has been no evidence of Japanese Americans having posed a security threat or engaged in any espionage or other crimes.
In 1988, President Reagan issued an apology from the American government, and every Japanese American who had been interned received a redress check.
The 442 is still the most highly decorated military unit in American history.

More Haiku

So I have more:


spring morning
pink explodes
chiffon whirls


dead grandchild
a blurring thought lost in wrinkles
skin lotion’s smell

Story of Miu 12

Reading at the Kuraki Noh Theater Dec. 6, 2008
with Yumi Miyagishima on violin, playing “Sleep” by Kyosuke Koizumi and Winchester Nii Tete on kpanlogo percussion.

Story of Miu 11 including links to previous entries.

I’m sitting in a stuffy waiting room, not bothering to wonder why the others _ troubled looking women of all ages and shapes _ would need to be there.
It is clear birth is not the reason we are all here, even the nurses in pale pink outfits and the feminist gynecologist with the stern voice.
I am too nervous and worried to feel shame or guilt.
I just want Miu to come out from behind the curtains where she has gone _ safe and alive and in one piece and the job done.
This is not a good feeling.
But this is all I can think.
We have all been there _ our legs open _ to remind us of what we did, not with just anyone but a man we truly loved but maybe who didn’t love us enough _ the chilly metal enters like an uncutting but unfeeling knife, merciless, guiltless, sinless until our drugged minds leave us _ start counting: one, two, three, four _ like angels who have given up.
And we feel nothing and we remember nothing.
We do not think of the baby that was, that could have been, that never was.
It is a tiny wormlike thing that must be removed like a bloody tumor because it is not a human being yet.
And I only want her to come out of there from behind the sterile curtains, safe and healthy and smiling.
I know she doesn’t want to part with this human being that never was.
She wanted it to go on and on, feeling that person inside of her.
“It’s not something to do immediately; that’s not right,” she says. She has waited a week alone. She has not told anyone.
I don’t realize this: All I am thinking about is her, not the thing that is inside of her.
But the baby who never was is that grandchild who never was, the future of the race, generations to come, who looks like your grandfather, your father, your son, the man you love, those little feet that run to you and bring snotty cheek against cheek, filled with life when you are only nearing death.
When she finally comes out of her drugged sleep, walks courageously to me in the waiting room, faking a smile, her breath smells like an old woman.


Taiko Rocks With Hybrid Soul _ Live Version

Hybrid Soul delivers electric “Souran Bushi” _ Dokkoi dokkoi!!
Hybrid Soul brings together:
ISAKU KAGEYAMA, an award-winning traditional Japanese taiko drummer from Tokyo, Texan guitarist CHRIS YOUNG and
PAT GLYNN, an accomplished Broadway musician hailing from the wilds of New Jersey.
Three different perspectives but one common vision.
By experimenting with Western rock, jazz, blues and latin elements, Hybrid Soul breathes new life into the culturally and musically rich tradition of Japanese folk songs.

To an Ex-Lover

Violinist YUMI MIYAGISHIMA and Poet YURI KAGEYAMA at What The Dickens in Tokyo, SUN Sept. 7, 2008.
The poem is part of the program at “TALKING TAIKO,” an evening of multicultural poetry and music with master percussionist WINCHESTER NII TETE at BUNGA 6:30 p.m. SUN Sept. 28.

First published in Oakland Tribune; one of the poems in “Peeling,” by Yuri Kageyama.

You could only sleep, turned away. EVERY NIGHT, HIS BICEPS PILLOW MY HEAD.

You told me that she was a hard act to follow, being the daughter of your parents’ friends. Before your parents came over, you hid my things in the closet.

My friends were too strange, you used to complain. That I stayed up till six in the morning, while you slept, and slept, while you worked, and was never hungry the same time you were. WHEREAS, AFTER NIGHT-LONG DISCUSSIONS, HE TAKES ME FOR DAWN-LIT SNEAKERED STROLLS ALONG THE BEACH.

I let dust collect on the kitchen table, left things here and there, like animal droppings, cluttering your cleanliness.

You felt sorry for me. You paid my bills, got me health insurance, provided me with gas cards and made me laugh with John Wayne imitations. Because I always sat pensive, with a sad distressed lonely look. Even now, you tell me I’m a zombie. HE LAUGHS THAT I’M ALMOST AS CRAZY AS HE IS HIMSELF.

You’d watched how your older brothers had hurt your parents, by becoming a musician, trying dope, dating Chinese, so you’d vowed to a way of spineless kindness, obsessed with moderation, avoiding conflict till you’d, at times, crunch onto the floor, holding in the tumor of self-denial within your brain.

WE WALK TOGETHER, GIGGLING IN J-TOWN, ARM IN ARM, BECAUSE THE “COMMUNITY” IS SO LUDICROUS SOMETIMES. While you told me, never to mention your name in J-town again. For, deserted in insecurity, I used to sit, gulping down bourbon bitterness, telling the blues, how I loved you and you didn’t love me.

You loved me by fixing the car. You loved me by criticizing how I didn’t dress San Francisco. You loved me by watching “Starsky and Hutch,” sipping soda, after an eight-to-three-thirty school-teaching day. You loved me by telling me I could do whatever I wanted; you had no right to restrict my freedom. So I went discoing, while you visited your parents for the weekend. HE WANTS TO BE WITH ME. HE JUST TELLS ME, “DON’T FUCK AROUND.”

I still don’t smoke in front of you.

After I moved out and out of your life, you bought me sweetheart roses that never opened in the water. HE SURPRISES ME WITH AN ORCHID CORSAGE THAT BLOSSOMS WHITE-PURPLE WITH THE PRIDE IN THE LOVE WE FEEL.

You played the trumpet alone in the attic.

When I touched you, my fingers drained your energy. HE KISSES ME ON THE MUNI BUS.

You didn’t know why I cried when you stated matter-of-factly, it took no talent to write poetry. You grin cynically over coffee at a shopping center, that now you never want a woman who’s into art. You keep on telling me that you’ve seen the light; you want to get married within a year, and you’re searching hard.

You faithfully attended family gatherings for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, piano and dance recitals, countless birthdays, and brought back roast turkey, potato salad, sushi and cake.


You said you loved me because I cooked relatively well and I had sweet mannerisms. I DON’T BOTHER ASKING FOR HIS REASONS.

You explained to me that I was not the type of woman you wanted for a wife. We were incompatible, despite our two years together. When you finally proposed, with tickets to Hawaii _ you realized that to take this plaything out of its glass case on the mantle, at your own leisure, could add excitement to your life _ when you finally declared your love, I had aborted mine long ago. HE SMILES TO ME, LET’S GET MARRIED TOMORROW; I REPLY, OKAY, LET’S.



Little YELLOW Slut

Reworked to add a new line: “Charlie Chan’s Angel”

Little YELLOW Slut
By Yuri Kageyama

You know her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, proudly gleefully
YELLOW-ly hanging on Big Master’s arm,
War bride, geisha,
GI’s home away from home,
Whore for last samurai,
Hula dancer with seaweed hair,
Yoko Ohno,
Akihabara cafe maid,
Hi-Hi Puffy Ami/Yumi,
Kawaiiii like keitai,
Back-up dancer for Gwen Stefani,
Your real-life Second Life avatar
Eager to deliver your freakiest fetish fantasies,
Disco queen, skirt up the crotch,
Fish-net stockings, bow-legged, anorexic, raisin nipples, tip-toeing Roppongi on
Stiletto heels.

Yessu, i spikku ingrishhu, i raikku gaijeeen, they kiss you,
hold your hand, open doors for me,
open legs for you, giggling pidgin, covering mouth,
so happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

Everybody’s seen her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, waiting at
Home, cooking rice, the Japanese
Condoleezza Rice,
Smelling of sushi,
Breath and vagina,
Fish and vinegar,
Fermented rice,
Honored to be
Cleaning lady,
Flight attendant for Singapore Airlines,
Charlie Chan’s Angel,
Nurse maid, gardener, Japan-expert’s wife,
Mochi manga face,
Yodeling minyo, growling enka,
Sex toy, slant-eyes closed, licking, tasting, swallowing STD semen,
Every drop.

Yessu, i wanna baby who looohkuh gaijeen, double-fold eye, translucent skin, international school PTA,
maybe grow up to be fashion model, even joshi-ana,
not-not-not happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

I recognize her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, rejecting
Japanese, rejected by Japanese,
Empty inside,
They all look alike,
Faceless, hoping to forget, escape
To America,
Slant-eyed clitoris,
Adopted orphan,
Dream come true for pedophiles,
Serving sake, pouring tea, spilling honey,
Naturalized citizen,
Buying Gucci,
Docile doll,
Rag-doll, Miss Universe, manic harakiri depressive, rape victim, she is
You, she is me.

Hai, hai, eigo wakarimasen, worship Big Master for mind, matter, muscle, money, body size correlates to penis size,
waiting to be sexually harassed, so sorry, so many,
so sad to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

Story of Miu 11

Continued from previous entries:
Story of Miu 10
Story of Miu 9
Links to Story of Miu 8 and previous entries to where it all started.


The details, when put together, make for a rather fascinating profile of a young man.
Maybe because I am a writer I am by nature intrigued by descriptions of things that people do that offer insight into human nature that writers see as a mission to explore.
I still don’t really know Yuga at all.
I only know what Miu told me.
Maybe she is telling only her side of what happened as people are apt to do.
And maybe she didn’t even really know him either.
The bits and pieces came slowly and gradually.
But as our conversation went on, the crimes, the shortcomings, the mistakes of Yuga came from her in torrents.
Yuga had another identity, Miu says.
He went to clubs to pick up women.
For this, he went by a false name, Ryuga, which still sounded enough like Yuga so that if someone called out the name _ someone who really knew who he was, who happened to be at the same club, the same party, or the same sidewalk, “Hey, Yuga!” _ the girl he was trying to seduce wouldn’t find out he had told her his false name, the lie, the other identity: The boy who wasn’t a poor musician at all but an up-and-coming recruit at a PR firm, who had money and on his path to fame.
“That is so sad,” Miu said to me, scoffing and sneering, although she was almost going to cry.
“I thought I came to Japan to find human relationships that were devoid of the separation of racism, to link with people in a way that wasn’t tainted by the barriers of racial stereotypes. I just wanted a man who would look at me and not see a Jap before he saw anything else.”
I touched her shoulder, pale and frail and trembling.
But nothing I could do or say was going to make Miu feel better.
When Yuga was Ryuga, when he wasn’t practicing with Miu and the rest of his band, when he wasn’t poring over his studies, he was talking to strange women as Ryuga in darkly deafening club after club, whispering strange nothings into their ears.