Posts from the ‘At the Moment’ Category

Asian American StoryFest

Our world’s first Asian American StoryFest was an amazing festival! It was everything and more than we wanted it to be! The tellers were stellar, and our Young Performers Ensemble was a hit! We heard so many delightful, deep, and funny stories that brought tears, laughter and heart warmth.

ETH-NOH-TEC’s told a version of China’s The Three Laughing Monks that got the audience laughing, even as they sat in their cars hours later; another night the darker side of the dynamic duo: shape shifting Tiger Woman!

MOTOKO’s STORY: of a new Japanese housewife who held in her ‘gas’ to be polite – with ‘explosive’ consequences!

ALTON TAKIYAMA CHUNG tells of Hawaii’s goddess Pele’s toboggan race with mere mortals; and the compelling tale of Japanese diplomat Sugihara who saved thousands of Jews single-handedly during the holocaust;

ARIF CHOUDHURY tells of a Muslim’s dilemma with eating all the foods common at a friend’s raucous football party (pepperoni pizza, sausage pizza…);

ANNE SHIMOJIMA Weaves a Japanese folk tale of how the headless Samurai got his head reattached;

ETH-NOH-TEC ENSEMBLE told a Korean bilingual story of Konji, their own Cinderella, as well as a Tale from India (“Cleverness”)and one from China (“Nu Wa Mends the Sky”)

BRENDA WONG AOKI recounts sitting beside a homeless person on SF’s Fulton 5 bus and experiencing fear and distain, but ending with grace and gratitude

Two days of stories! A fantastic festival! and of course… a standing ovation.

The panel on ‘Why Storytelling? Why me?’ was very provocative, enlightening, inspiring and powerful. Adding our Asian voices to the storytelling community at large and the storytelling genre was heard!

HELPING HANDS MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN!Our 21 volunteers made it all work! Who could ever do anything without volunteers, board, tech and the greater circle of support: our donors!

Still, if you have a bit of extra loose change about, or know someone who forgot to donate but wanted to, please let us know who that is so we can send him/her a letter or make a phone call. All loose change accepted!! We want to continue training our young performers and that is our next fundraising project!! For those who saw their world premiere, weren’t they lovely? Weren’t they an exciting addition? You can make checks out to Eth-Noh-Tec and send to Eth-Noh-Tec, 977 S. Van Ness, SF CA 94110. Or CLICK HERE:

In Closing:
We are so proud of what we created. It was a tremendous amount of work for us, but in the end, what an outcome!

Following this report are some pictures from the festival! We think you’ll see how wonderful it was just by looking at the photos. Enjoy!

Thank you again for your participation in our festival – a festival always to be remembered!


“Once upon a time…” and still true to this day, sojourners and immigrants from the Asian world have transformed the American world since the 1700’s bringing with them their rich heritages of myth and folk tales as well as weaving their new stories spun from their experiences in the American world.

Now, 300 years later, imagine a stage filled with other nationally recognized, professional Asian American storytellers, weaving traditional and contemporary stories that celebrate Asian culture through their stories!

Come the FIRST, an Asian American Storyfest happening in the SF Bay Area!  We’re always making history!


Witness the humor and pathos of Arif Choudhury; the heroic WWII Japanese American soldier stories, and tales from Hawaii from Alton Takiyama Chung; pan Asian tales and myths through movement, music and the spoken word from Nancy Wang and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo of Eth-Noh-Tec; tales of humor and delicacy told with Motoko’s words and mime movements; the various Asian tales impeccably told by Anne Shimojima; and the fantastical Asian world tales of Brenda Wong-Aoki.

PLUS! The debut performance of Eth-Noh-Tec’s newly formed ENSEMBLE: featuring NEXT Generation Asian American movement theatrer storytellers: Tatiana Chaterji, Radhika Rao, Julia Ajin Choi.


GENERAL AUDIENCE CONCERTS FRI. MAY 9 & SAT. MAY 10: : Come hear the stories from within barb-wire concentration camps, to beyond the lofty Himalayan mountains, from myths that echoed in palaces of ancient India and China, to the tales from the streets of urban Asian America.  These storytellers will conjure many worlds… stories of insight and imagination, both real and unreal, a listening journey with a panoramic view sweeping from Asia to Asian America. (appropriate for adults and mature youth) NOTE (3 different shows, All Different Stories! See below for locations/ times)

FAMILY MATINEE “An Asian Occasion” - This fun-filled afternoon of delightful Asian folk tales and myths is set in the world of your imagination where all things are possible! A world where there are Wise Fools and Foolish Kings, Clever Tricksters and wistful forest spirits! Come here the stories of laughter and caution, wisdom and wit through traditional stories from cultures of China, Japan, Korea, and more.  Great for families of all ages (age approrpiate for K-5 grades and families; one show only at OACC). Featured tellers: Motoko, Anne Shimojima, Eth-Noh-Tec & The Ensemble SAT. MAY 10, 1:30 pm (Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr. 388 9th Street #290)

FISHBOWL CONVERSATION: “Why me? Why Storytelling?” (only at OACC). A school librarian? a social worker, a dancer, oceanographer, … how did these ordinary people enter the extraordinary world of professional storytelling.  Like the reluctant hero and heroine in Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth”, each of these artists set out on a journey, unbeknownst to them they would find along the way a sense of Asian American identity, a sense belonging to community, a gift of service, and a place called home, where the Art of the narrative joins compassion. Come hear the many voices…and these stories. Location: SAT. MAY 10: 7:00 pm FREE! (Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr, 388 9th Street #290)


MAY 9: FRI. “Pan Asia Fantasia” GENERAL AUDIENCE CONCERT – One night only with all the storytellers (8:00 pm- 10:00 pm; Mission Cultural Center; 2868 Mission Street, SF)

MAY 10: SAT. “An Asian Occasion” FAMILY MATINEE, Featured tellers: Motoko, Anne Shimojima, Eth-Noh-Tec & The Ensemble (1:30 pm- 3:00 pm; Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr. 388 9th Street #290)

MAY 10: SAT “From the Voice of the Heart” GENERAL AUDIENCE CONCERT, Featured National Tellers:  Alton Takiyama Chung, Arif Choudhury, Brenda Wong Aoki, & Eth-Noh-Tec (3:30 pm- 5:00 pm; Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr. 388 9th Street #290)

MAY 10: SAT. “Why Me? Why Storytelling?” PANEL DISCUSSION All Featured National Tellers (7:00 pm; Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr. 388 9th Street #290)

MAY 10: SAT. “Mythos, Message and Mirth”GENERAL AUDIENCE CONCERT, All Tellers (8:00pm; ; Oakland Asian Cultural Ctr. 388 9th Street #290)


Single Show Cost – $15 Adult (door $20); $10 Child under 12 (door: $15)

Full Festival/ All Shows: $50 Adult (door $100); $40 Child under 12 (door: $75)

Special/ All shows: “Tribe of Ten”: $13 per person *

*(“Tribe of Ten”: minimum 10 people; adults only)

Besides attending our festival, how about contributing to the Festival Production Campaign? Your donation will aide us in offsetting the cost of production and guarantee a marvelous experience for both the visiting artists and the community.

And, you can also become a volunteer at the festival.  Just contact us:

Filed as: At the Moment, Performances, Programs  


Filed as: At the Moment  

Salon! We’re OFF!

Filed as: At the Moment, Salon! You're On!  

Nu Wa Storytelling Journey September 12-26, 2014


Welcome to the Nu Wa Blog as you follow Eth-Noh-Tec and the storytelling delegation on their adventure to CHINA!  We launched this week on Sept 11 and arrived the following day on Sept 12 (with all our luggage! YAY!).  Please copy this link and share it with friends to hear more about our storytelling adventure:

DAY #1, 2, 3,4: Sept 12, 13, 14, 15


We arrived in Beijing in one piece!!  It was a pretty good flight with Air Canada’s wide seats and 2.5 meals, unlike last time when we went on United with one meal at the beginning of the flight and none for the next 12 hours!

Beijing is sooo filled with people and cars and tricycle bed trucks and scooters and busses and bicycles and pedestrians, all weaving, seemingly haphazardly, through each other to cross the wide boulevards and streets.  With the people finally getting some living wages, there are many more obvious signs of, not necessarily wealth, but enough to buy beyond food and shelter.


Our Nu Wa delegates are (seen in pix above left-to-right): 5th timer Elaine Stanley, newbies Doris Feyling and daughter Kirsten Feyling, and sisters Luanda Wesley and Melinda Kanios.  This is our 6th time.

We are having a great time eating, sightseeing, in the parks participating with dancers and game players of all kinds.  And, we have become the Nu Wa shopping tour as well!

Our delegates are all women!  So shopping is indeed a draw.  Both Robert and our all time favorite guide Peter Liu, who is with us for the 4th time, are ever so patient!

Sunday Sept 14: HEAVENLY!

This is our third day and we have been to the Temple of Heaven, Panjiayuan flea market, the Silk & Pearl factories, the Summer Palace, on boat rides filled with people because, once again, many more Chinese are finally above survival and can travel to see their own country.  So one has to imagine what it was like to be one of the concubines, or handmaidens being the only ones walking the beautiful landscapes surrounded by mountains, lakes and gorgeous architecture in these temples and palaces.  Or if one dares, to imagine oneself the Empress Dowager… and for Robert, the Emperor or … a Eunuch!

DAY #5, 6: Monday Sept 15 &  Tuesday 16 


Today we are off to the Great Wall. What is new at the Great Wall for us is a new area opened that has a tram and a chair lift going up and down, or if one wants, individually driven toboggans to maneuver on the way down.  Of course walking up and down those hundreds and hundreds of uneven stairs is definitely the way to go so one can say they’ve “… climbed the Great Wall!”

Breakfast time, so see you in the next blog!

- – - – - – - -

Yesterday, the Great Wall was amazing as usual, but very special was that there were not many people.  We have been to the Badaling area of the Great Wall many times. In 2002, it was sparse with visitors.  But every time after, it was so crowded it was difficult to maneuver.  Again, the Chinese nationals are able to visit places in their own country.

STONES & BONES: Day #4 Monday Sept 15

In this new place, however, it was not crowded, perhaps also because it was Monday. Thus the walk was pleasant and the views were magnificent. We had time and space to ponder the unfathomable amount of hard labor, freezing winters, hot summers – impossible conditions of the steep mountains upon which the conscripted laborers had to work.  Countless lives were enslaved and lost building the great wall over the 600 years of constant construction.  We were walking on the skeletons of these laborers buried under the wall.  We were winded just walking up and down the many stairs let alone carrying up heavy bricks and cement blocks to build walls, stairs, towers. With reverence, we gave thanks to those ancestors who were sacrificed to build a wall that the common people didn’t care about.  It is unbelievably mind-boggling.

Still, for us contemporary humans, we not only appreciated the wall, but enjoyed it. The gondola, chair lifts and toboggans were fabulous.  The weather was perfect: blue skies, sunny, about 75 degrees and a lovely breeze.  Our energy was well spent climbing hundreds of stairs, and so were we!  Still, we stayed awake for the astonishing feats of the Chinese acrobats that night.  We even had enough energy to roam the alley outside of our hotel afterwards to eat at a downhome eatery.  We then slept well despite the hard beds!

 DAY #5 Tuesday Sept. 16:


The next day, at the Lama monastery, we lit many sticks of incense to give thanks to our ancestors and to make requests for our troubled world.  We next roamed the grounds of the Confucian Temple, then off we went to have lunch and pick up ONE MORE Gem, Xiao-Juan Shu who will be joining our adventure as a part of the translation team.

Now on to the real heart of our Nu Wa Cultural Exchange in Gengcun.  We arrived in the city of Gaocheng where we stay.  Rainy, cool and dark.  The first thing is we tested our beds!  Pads on the box springs!!  We ate the specially delicious food of this hotel and then sorted out all the gifts we were bringing for the classrooms and for the tellers, chiefs and heads of the associations.



DAY #6 Wednesday Sept 17:


Then, the magic began the next morning!  Our shuttle got closer and closer to the village’s red gate. We passed under and soon we could see a small group of villagers standing near the school.

We pulled up.  We heard music.  We looked out the windows and saw a group of 12 dancers dressed in red under the roofed entrance of the school to welcome us. They were dancing, not a traditional dance with Chinese drums as before, but disco music!!  Dancing in two lines to disco music!  It was fabulous!!  We cried when we saw our old storytelling friends.  The people are so warm and open hearted.  We hugged and ‘Ni hao’ed’ everyone!!  Smiles smiles smiles!

Welcome speeches in the new Hall of Stories, smaller in size but the same set up with tables making an rectangular shape, chairs all around with the center empty.  They gave us gifts of tea and tea caddies.  We came empty handed.  Drat our lack of knowledge about the proper rituals, even after all these times! (YIKES! our “Bad!”)  We DID have gifts however, but we were waiting for the following days to give.  And we didn’t know how many officials would be there to give gifts to. Oh, for me – to be Chinese American!  It is right when the elder Chinese who immigrate to America meet Chinese Americans and call us ‘jook sing’.  It means ‘like bamboo: looks like something on the outside, but empty on the inside’.  We don’t know our culture at all.  But, why would we?


We ended the day with sharing stories both in the Story Hall and with the children in the school.  There are only 3 classes left: 1st, 2nd and 3rdgraders about 8-15 in each class, and what a rowdy group – the boys of course!  We were happy to unload all our school supply gifts to the “oohs and ahhs” of the children! The following day we returned to the classrooms to an arts activity.

A very satisfying, and quite exhausting day #6 (and part of day #7).

Day #7 Wed. thru Sat Sept 17-20


Story sharing in Gengcun is the highlight of this trip.  We went into the village, into their homes to share stories.

A typical home is one large room with a couch, a dresser and a large very hard bed.  There is now often one extra room on each side: another bedroom, a room used as a kitchen.  In our western world, these are not rooms we think of like in our own homes.  Each of these 3 rooms are concrete squares or rectangles.  Then they are filled with what the function is.  Kitchens will have a concrete sink and a wide concrete ledge for portable propane burners.  A small very used wooden table sits in the middle.  We rarely saw a refrigerator and if we did, it was in the large middle room where one gathers with the family or friends, and in our case, storytellers.  We sit on the bed, the couch and the tellers share these spaces with us.  If there are not enough spaces, the tellers sit on small, low little benches for a single butt.  At ages 70’s and 80’s they can still ‘squat’ so these tiny benches are nothing for them to sit on and get up quickly.  We, on the other hand, would mince going down and groan coming back up!


Most of the storytellers are now the women.  Many of the male tellers have passed since the first time we came in 2002.  Other mid-level tellers between 40-50 seem to be out of town, possible working jobs in bigger cities and sending money home.  It is so very sad. Another 7 have passed away since Robert and I came by ourselves in 2011:  5 more men and 2 women storytellers we adored.  Nine altogether have passed from our circle of Gengcun storytelling friends since we started 12 years ago.



















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In The Season of Giving

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