Densho Digital Archive
Friends of Manzanar Collection
Title: Chikaye Sande Azeka Hashimoto Interview
Narrator: Chikaye Sande Azeka Hashimoto
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: January 10, 2012
Densho ID: denshovh-hchikaye-01-0012

<Begin Segment 12>

MN: Now I want to ask you about your odori lessons. You started in camp, and you continued after the war. You mentioned earlier, but I'm gonna ask you again, who did you learn, who was your teacher after the war?

SH: After the war was Fujima Kansuma.

MN: And where did she initially hold her classes?

SH: She was holding it in (...) mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Hamaguchi, they had a hotel (...) called the Anzen Hotel. (...) I don't know if, because of the Anzen Hardware, the hotel name was Anzen Hotel, (we practiced in) one of the hotel rooms. Later (...) go to her home too (...). She didn't have really what you call a studio (...).

MN: Now, in camp you played a lot of male roles. You have a new sensei now. Did you get to play a lot more female roles?

SH: Oh no, it continued. [Laughs] Even with Fujima Kansuma I played male roles.

MN: And is it because of your height you were --

SH: Well, the height, and I guess my personality too (...)... in camp I (did) a lot of yakuza parts. And even after we came out, I did yakuza too, (and) I always had the (...) male parts. (...) I assume it's my personality and my height, the two things they know from looking (to do) this part. (...) I used to (...) tell my mom, "I wish one of these days I could wear a kimono." But they did (...), two or three times (had) me play a female part. (...)

MN: Do you want to share with us the time you were able to play a female role?

SH: What do you mean, what parts I played?

MN: When you played, there was one, one especially when you were in the Disneyland Christmas parade --

SH: (Yes), I was a oiran. But of course, it didn't matter how tall I was because I had to wear these getas that were like this [holds hand up], you know? So that made me even taller, (...) she had me play a woman (...). And it was fine, except it was hard for me to walk in those getas (...) later on they had me take it off because I couldn't walk through the whole parade (...).

MN: So you're in this Disneyland Christmas parade. What other venues did you perform at?

SH: You mean with Fujima Kansuma? She had all kind of occasions where we had to perform. We (danced) at the Wilshire Ebell Theater, and (...) at the Shrine Auditorium... gee, what other big ones? I was in a couple movies. One was Around the World in Eighty Days (where we) go to Japan (...). And then I was in House of Bamboo. That one, I had a bit part, so I was, I was in one scene with Shirley Yamaguchi, 'cause she was the main star (with) Robert's Stack. But that had nothing to do with Japanese dancing, (...) they had me try out for it and I got this little part.

MN: You also later on joined the Contemporary Dance Group?

SH: (...) It was called the Keigo Imperial Dancers, and that was a whole new (...) very modern (dancing). Because the choreographers (were) white and then the other fellow was Japanese, (...) Keigo Takeuchi. He was a very famous dancer. Him, and Reiko Sato. (...) She performed in Flower Drum Song, they were very close, and (...) did a lot of dancing together. So anyway, between the hakujin fellow and Keigo, they did a lot of contemporary Japanese dancing, and (...) I was able to (perform at the) Mocambo with Miyoshi Umeki. (...) She was the main star (...) and we were the Japanese dancing part. But like I said, it was very contemporary, so it was real different from classical Japanese dancing.

MN: Now, when you were the dancers for Miyoshi Umeki, had she won the Academy Award yet?

SH: Yes. She had won it for Sayonara. (...) Then she went on and (...) performed at the Mocambo Club.

MN: So what was it like to work with Miyoshi Umeki?

SH: Well, you don't really talk to them, (...) 'cause she's the main attraction. She does all the singing (...), and we just kind of expose ourselves with the Japanese dancing part.

MN: Now, you also have these very young photos of Misora Hibari when she was here in the '50s.

SH: Yeah.

MN: Did you play with her?

SH: (...) I played with her a little bit, (...) I think I was older than her. But we did play (...) and she would come and practice at the Koyasan Temple, and since I lived right across the street, (...) I'll go over there too and I played with her. But there was another girl (who) was always playing with her (...) because her father's the one that has some connection of bringing her over from Japan. (...)

MN: So how did you feel when she returned to Japan and she became this huge megastar?

SH: She was a star already. She was singing (Hokano Hoteru). She was singing that one with the top hat. (...) She was pretty famous already (...) and a star (...) in her own rights.

MN: What other famous entertainers were you able to meet?

SH: (...) We used to have a lot of entertainers come from Japan. (...) We would either help with the ushers or handing out programs. (...) (I met Tanaka, Kinuyo, Hasegawa, Kazuo, and Eri, Chiemi.) I did talk to Shirley Yamaguchi too because we were in the same scene together, but not really to say I really know her personally.

MN: But you're getting all this exposure...

SH: And it all probably stems from because I took Japanese classical dancing.

MN: Did you ever think about being a professional performer?

SH: Oh no. [Laughs] No, not really. (...) And when you're younger, you're enjoying it, but as you grow older and it starts interfering with your chosen life and everything, then you start saying, oh no. (...) [Laughs] (...) I wasn't gonna become a professional entertainer (...).

<End Segment 12> - Copyright &copy; 2012 Densho. All Rights Reserved.