Beloved Bay Area storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki, and Emmy Award Winning Composer Mark Izu, will present Aunt Lily’s Flower Book: One Hundred Years of Legalized Racism, as part of the 2017 San Francisco International Arts Festival. Memoirs from a family diary tell the true stories of the struggles and resilience of a Japanese American family in the 1940’s. Aoki and Izu present Aunt Lily’s Flower Book to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal and internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II.
Aunt Lily’s Flower Book is the diary of Lily Takasaki, Mark Izu’s aunt. This long undiscovered diary is Aunt Lily’s first person reflections as a child in Japan, coming to California at the age of ten, swept-away in the hysteria of mass incarceration and then trying to establish a home in post-war, segregated California. It depicts a grandfather who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, a father in the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a wife in Poston Internment Camp, aunts and uncles who were victims of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, and even stories about a gallon of ice cream, a violin and the birth of a movement.
“Tragically, history repeats, and Lily’s stories are so relevant to today’s immigration issues,” said Brenda Wong Aoki. “So many people are under threat of being incarcerated like the Japanese were in the 1940’s. We want to share our family’s stories to show others that they are not alone, we understand their fear and we are standing up to say Never Again.”
Aunt Lily’s stories and memoirs are woven in with archival photographs and historic film clips from Izu’s family, performed by Brenda Wong Aoki with live music accompanied by Emmy Award winning composer & contra-bassist Mark Izu and features koto master Shoko Hikage.
About the Artists
Featuring the haunting eloquence of writer-performer Brenda Wong Aoki with the silk and iron tones of composer-contra bass player Mark Izu - artists in the vanguard of cultural metamorphosis. Their original story-dramas are rooted in Gagaku, Nohgaku, contemporary theater, personal story, history and legend. Izu is a seminal leader of Asian American Jazz. Aoki is the America’s first nationally recognized Asian American storyteller. Both Aoki and Izu come from founding families of San Francisco and San Jose Japantowns, two of the three remaining Japantowns in the U.S. Their work has garnered multiple Hollywood-Dramalogue Awards, NEA Fellowships, Critic Circle Awards, INDIE Awards, Dramatist Guild, ASCAP awards and an Emmy. Shoko Hikage is an internationally renowned natori koto artist. Each continues to teach, tour and perform worldwide.