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‘Growing Up Sansei’ Coming to Berkeley

Playwright Soji Kashiwagi (left) and the cast of “Garage Door Opener” — Dian Kobayashi, Ping Wu, Shaun Shimoda, Haruye Ioka and Kurt Kuniyoshi — at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in 2016.

BERKELEY — Berkeley JACL presents “Growing Up Sansei” on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 12 to 3 p.m. at Anna Head Alumnae Hall, 2537 Haste St. in Berkeley.

The event will feature a reading by Grateful Crane Ensemble of “Garage Door Opener,” a dysfunctional family play.

Just the mention of a “Japanese American Dysfunctional Family Play” has brought smiles and laughter from Baby Boomer Sansei who grew up in a uniquely JA family environment. What is it about growing up Sansei and family dysfunction that brings immediate recognition from those who were there to experience it? These questions and more will be addressed in Soji Kashiwagi’s new comedy/drama.

In the play, we meet Glenn and Sharon Tanaka (Kurt Kuniyoshi and Haruye Ioka), a Sansei brother and sister faced with the daunting task of cleaning out their late parents’ garage and house. As they sift through dozens of empty tofu containers, kamaboko boards and broccoli rubber bands, Glenn and Sharon begin to uncover items from their past that they knew nothing about, and in the process, begin to gain a better understanding of their parents — and themselves — by the items their mom and dad (Dian Kobayashi and Shaun Shimoda) left behind.

After the reading, Dr. Satsuki Ina, an expert on JA family dynamics, will facilitate a dialogue about the play with Kashiwagi, and answer questions about issues such as camp trauma and its after-effects on the Nisei, Sansei and subsequent generations, shame and not bringing shame on the family, and decluttering one’s life of both emotional and physical baggage.

There will also be a performance by the Grateful 4, Grateful Crane’s Yonsei a cappella singing group, featuring UC Berkeley alum Michael Murata.

General admission: $25. Free for UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union members.

For more information, cmail For reservations, go to

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