Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Watermelon Sushi: In The Mix

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez!

Your Hip Hapa
Here’s wishing you and your loved ones the best in health and circumstances during these turbulent times.

If you’d like to participate in discussions about today’s world's state of race, please join us on Facebook at Hip Hapa Homeez. We began this group in 2008 as a way of sharing our thoughts about being multiracial, multicultural, interracially adopted, culture crossing, and more.

These days we’re more focused on the subject of racism as it grows more pervasive.

The good news is that the 5-part award-winning ‘War Brides of Japan, a docu*memory’ can still be viewed on Vimeo.

Here are the 5 links:


A shout-out to our donors can be viewed on our website: (Scroll down to ‘our Donors’)


'Flamingo Eats Sushi' by b.r. Winfrey
Our trailer titled, ‘The Chase’, is a winner at several film festivals:


Soon, we’ll update our winning film festival laurels on our Screenings page:


'Flamingos Fiend for Sushi' by b.r. Winfrey
Please follow our Facebook pages for the latest:


And, check out our interview with host Janice Malone of Film Festival Radio:


 a watermelon shopping bag becomes 'Watermelon Sushi, The Movie'
by b.r. Winfrey
Now, we’re finally circling back to Watermelon Sushi, the narrative. We’ll soon be announcing our fundraising campaign to get this movie made.

Meanwhile, artist b.r. Winfrey has been busy creating items to accompany the film. There are several scattered across this blog.

When we meet again on September 30, I hope you’ll be happily multi-culti. Stay safe!

Your Hip Hapa,



Yayoi


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Alexa Kang: What’s Write in the World

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.


A lot of crazy things have been happening in our topsy-turvy world lately. But one thing that remains constant is this blog and the amazing folks we interview here. 

amazing author Alexa Kang
Meet author Alexa Kang and see for yourself:

Q: Alexa, what is your background? Where were you born, raised, and how did you grow up?

A: I am a WWII historical writer from Boston. I’m Chinese-American, born in Hong Kong and grew up mainly on the East Coast. Before I repatriated back to the USA three years ago, I lived and worked for ten years in Asia, and traveled to many parts of the world. My travel experience, and experience living overseas, has helped me greatly in writing stories set in countries where the war took place.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to write?

A: I never aspired to write. This all started because of the Japanese manga “Candy Candy”. I grew up reading the “Candy Candy” manga and watching the “Candy Candy” anime, which was shown around the world in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s (except in English-speaking countries) and was super popular. The story “Candy Candy” was written by Japanese writer/poet Keiko Nagita (a/k/a Kyoko Mizuki). The manga and anime had ceased publication and broadcast in the 1980’s. But due to its popularity, “Candy Candy” gained a very dedicated global following of fans, especially in Latin American countries, but also in France, Italy, Spain, some European countries, and many East Asian countries. Many fans who are now adults have connected together since the emergence of the internet. I’m one of them. 

The problem with “Candy Candy” is that the main protagonist, Candy White, was separated from what many fans believed to be her one true love, Terry. Their separation traumatized many of us for thirty years. A lot of fans kept writing fanfics to try to fanfix this problem.

Then came the good news in 2010, when Keiko Nagita published “Candy Candy Final Story” (“CCFS”), an updated version of the story “Candy Candy” in a two-volume novel format with a lot of new information not previously told in the manga, anime, and earlier novels. In “CCFS”, Nagita wrote that Candy White was now a woman in her thirties, living with her husband, whom she referred to as “Anohito”, without naming the identity of Anohito. After analyzing all the new details in “CCFS”, many fans concluded Anohito is Terry, and Candy finally reunited with him. I believe the same. But because “CCFS” did not tell how Candy united with her Anohito (i.e., Terry), I wrote a fanfic that told the story how she and Terry got back together. The story was just bursting in my head and I had to write it down. I shared it with other “Candy Candy” fans online. My fanfic was very well received, and it was subsequently fan-translated into French, Italian, and Spanish. 

I suppose the time when I felt an unstoppable need to provide an answer to Candy and Terry’s reunion was when I realized I wanted to write. But at that time, I only wanted to write their story. I still didn’t mean to ever become a writer.


Q: How did you segue into writing novels about WWII?

A: Initially, I had no aspirations to write books about WWII at all. After my “Candy Candy” fanfic, I was besieged with an urge to write a love story between the children of some of the “Candy Candy” characters. These children are entirely my own imaginary construct, and did not appear in any way in the canon. 

The problem here was that “CCFS” ended in the mid-1920’s. That meant the story of these next-generation characters landed smack in the middle of the war! So if I were to write this next generation story, I would have to write a full-on WWII historical fiction. It was a very daunting goal at the time, as I didn’t really know much about WWII except what I learned from history classes in high school and college.

But these characters came alive in my head, and they wouldn’t let me rest in peace until I told their stories and put their stories into words. So I had no choice but to go ahead. Their story became the “Rose of Anzio”, an epic four-book series. When I began, I wrote it as a fanfic. Each week, I would write a new chapter and share it online with “Candy Candy” fans. They loved this new story and gave me a lot of support. We had a lot of fun like that for more than a year. When I came to the end of this long series, I realized I could share it with a wider audience. From that point forward, I began working with publishing professionals to turn the series into a polished set that would appeal to readers beyond the “Candy Candy” fandom.

A welcomed surprise from this experience was that I learned so much about WWII from doing research for “Rose of Anzio”. Thereafter, I continued writing WWII novels, and I try to bring something different to the genre through my books.

Q: Your stories often feature cross-cultural characters. Is that an important element of your writing, or in your own personal life?

A: I think writing cross-cultural characters is inevitable when writing WWII historical fiction, because WWII was a global war. Back then, most people never traveled far from their homes either. The war created a situation where massive numbers of men were transported to countries and continents where they otherwise would never have been. So I would say it is an important element of my writing as a matter of fact.

What is my personal choice though, is my recent venture into writing WWII novels set in Asia. WWII novels about the Pacific front is rare. I think my Asian language skills and personal experience of Asian cultures give me a unique ability to bring to readers stories that can offer them a more authentic experience of WWII Asia.

Also, from my observations, multicultural characters are now much more accepted and even welcomed in entertainment media. In my last series “Shanghai Story”, I wanted to see how an interracial romance between an Asian man and a Caucasian (Jewish) woman would strike my readers. I was very wary when this series debuted, but it turned out to be a great success. There seems to be a hunger on the readers’ part to want to read more about what happened in Asia during WWII, and the interracial romance was well-received, too.

Q: As a novelist, where do you see yourself in the next few years?

A: It’s hard to say. For me, writing is a creative process that happens only when characters come alive in my head. I do have ideas of subject matters that I want to write about, but I can’t force it. It’ll all depend on whether the new characters wish their stories to be told. I hope they’ll come and find me.

My website page for "Candy Candy" fans: https://alexakang.com/home/candy-candy-fans/
My author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roseofanzio/

Wow, Hip Hapa Homez. You have to admit Alexa Kang is pretty amazing!

Hey, don’t forget our 5-part film series, ‘War Brides of Japan, a docu*memory’ is available for rent on Vimeo.


Here are the links to each one of the five films:


And a MWAH! to all our donors listed at our website:
(Scroll down to ‘our Donors’)


Please note that our trailer titled, ‘The Chase’, has won several film festival awards:


And, as soon as we can, we’ll add the latest winning film festival laurels to our Screenings page:


To stay updated, follow our Facebook pages:


Until June 30 and our next post, we wish you lots of lovely reading and film viewing while you’re inside sheltering from this crazy, topsy-turvy world.

Your Hip Hapa,


Yayoi

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ringing Out the Old Year with War Brides of Japan

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.

At long last, all 5 of the short films that comprise ‘War Brides on Japan, a docu*memory’ are available for rent at Vimeo OnDemand:



This has been a long and arduous project and, because of its grassroots flavor and ultra-low budget, the films will not be theatrically distributed.

Here’s a big shout-out to all our donors listed on our website:
(Scroll down to ‘our Donors’).


And, here’s the link to our trailer titled, ‘The Chase’, which has won several film festival awards.


And, we have more awards to add to the laurels above. 

Please follow our Facebook pages to stay updated:


Meanwhile, we have plans to resurrect our Watermelon Sushi project—either as a feature-length animation or narrative—next year.

We’ll also be working on another docu*memory—about the artist, or as we call her the heARTist, Yuriko:


When we meet again on March 31, 2020, we should finally have another mixed-race, multi-cultural, transracial adoptee or culture-crossing interview for you.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, Akemashite Omedettou Gozaimasu, Happy New Year!

Your Hip Hapa, 


Yayoi

Monday, September 30, 2019

War Brides of Japan Makes Way for Watermelon Sushi

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.

Is this finally the week? Will the 5 short films that make up ‘War Brides of Japan, a docu*memory’ go on the market at last?

Please check out the following links where news of the releases will be announced:

Our Vimeo account:

Our website:

Our Facebook fan page:

Our Facebook business page:

Meanwhile, here is a recently won laurel and award certificate. Both 'Herstory' (an experimental short doc) and 'The Chase' (a trailer) were Official Selections at the Great Message International Film Festival of Maharashtra:



Here's a link to the award-winning trailer, 'The Chase':


And, you can view older laurels and awards at this page on our website:


















Next year, we’ll return to our regular formatting and our continuing pursuit of Watermelon Sushi!


Until December 31, keep on being Hip Hapa Homeez!

Your Hip Hapa,


Yayoi

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Arriving Soon: "War Brides of Japan"

Aloha, Hip Hapa Homeez.

Yes, we know we’ve been saying it for three years. But our docu*memory series, “War Brides of Japan”, really is arriving soon.


In fact, some pieces have been arriving for the past few months. Along with numerous trailers, several of the 5 chapters have actually been entered in film festivals around the world.


On June 10, two entries won prizes. The trailer, “This Doc Rocks! (Buddha)”, and the 5th chapter (of 5 chapters) called “BFF’s; Buddhist Friends Forever” won Best Trailer and Best Concept, respectively, at the Buddha International Film Festival in Pune Maharashtra India.

Here are our banners:


And, a short explanation of this complicated film project:

In September and November 2016, I interviewed 13 different individuals along with many of their family members. Thus, I was left with over 13 hours of footage. In an effort to give every single person a voice, I cut the footage into 13 short films. Then, I edited them again into 5 short films—pairing them according to similarity of subject matter.

Chapter 1.

Regina
“HERSTORY" features two historians, Lily Anne Yumi Welty-Tamai (“Dekasegi”) and the incredibly intelligent Regina F. Lark (“Japanese Brides, American Wives”) discussing the first war brides and their arrival in the U.S.












Chapter 2.

Asako
“THE BRIDES” is war bride Asako Sakaguchi Miller Kimes (“The Best Ambassador”) with her grandson and daughter, and Fumiko Kiyamura Caine Alderman (“Kitchens and a Priest”) with her two daughters. While Asako married a white man, Fumiko married a black man—which put them on two very divergent paths in America.

Asako and daughter





















Fumiko and daughters






















Chapter 3.

Roleta on right
“THE KIDS” is Roleta Fowler Vasquez (“The Entertainer’s Daughter”) talking about her war bride mother who was a talented entertainer. Andy Campbell and the three McClanahan sisters—Elaine, Naomi and Joan (“hafu") discuss their mothers and their own experiences growing up Japanese and black in the U.S. Jean Lahn (“Remembering Her Mother”), who recently lost her mother, remembers her with fondness and tears.












Jean's mother














Jean





















Chapter 4.

Diana on right
“THE CULTURE” features M Fumie Craig with her daughters ("Cactus…Cranes…Cooks…") creating origami and cooking Japanese meals. Diana Portugal and her daughter (“Tamales 4 Bon Odori”) talk about their Mexican roots and Diana’s experience of being rejected by the local Japanese community because of it. Yoshi Childs (“Bringing Japan Home") shows off her collection of Japanese souvenirs before preparing a Japanese lunch.













Yoshi

















Chapter 5.

Doris and Castora
“BFF’s; BUDDHIST FRIENDS FOREVER” links three families with Buddhist mothers. Dottie Putney (“Missing Her Mom”) talks about her late mother who practiced Buddhism daily. The Farrison’s—with mother Mihoko, father Theodore, son Kim, and daughters Doris and Castora (“Family Fortune”)—discuss their parents’ enduring marriage and their mother’s best friend and fellow Buddhist, Fumiko. Siblings Doris and Mike, children of Fumiko (“Disowned/Reclaimed”), fondly recall their parents along with Doris’ granddaughter weighing in.













Mike, Doris and family





















Here’s the pdf that further explains the chapters:


There’s something for everyone in these 5 films, so follow me on Vimeo for updates:


Or, like our “War Brides of Japan” Facebook page:


You can also check out our website regularly for any news:


On a sad note, we had to say goodbye to our dear friend and long-time Watermelon Sushi supporter, Nashville dramaturg Jaz Dorsey. Sweet dreams forever, Jaz! We miss you already.

Nashville dramaturg Jaz Dorsey
See you Hip Hapa Homeez on September 30, or at a theater near you!

Your Hip Hapa,

Yayoi