Presented by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), the programs will explore the “rich and diverse history of Japanese Americans” with stories that “go beyond the history books.”
The first episode Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful will feature the story of Keiko Fukuda. She is the highest ranking woman in judo history, earning a 10th degree black belt. The episode is directed by Yuriko Gamo Romer. Fukuda died last year at the age of 99.
Episode two will include two programs. Don’t Lose Your Soul will showcase two unsung Asian Americans in the music world. Directors Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush follow the stories of bassist Mark Izu and the Grammy-nominated drummer Anthony Brown. The program will highlight Izu and Brown’s contributions to jazz which goes back to the 1960s.
The second show is titled Honor and Sacrifice. The film is the story of the Matsumoto family during World War II and their 5 sons. Three of them fought for the Japanese and two fought for the United States. Among them was Roy Matsumoto who became a war hero when he saved his fellow soldiers from a deadly siege by the Japanese.
Honor and Sacrifice was directed by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers who were awarded with the 2014 Erik Barnouw Award From the Organization of American Historians.
The final episode is Stories from Tohoku. Directors Dianne Fukami and Eli Olson revisit Tohoku two years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The stories connect Japanese Americans collecting donations for the rebuilding effort with survivors of the disaster.
The airing of Japanese American Lives is part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Check your local PBS listings for showtimes.