How It Goes Down… In Japantown!

On this episode we journey to the Far East by way of San Francisco’s Nihonmachi (or Japantown) Street Festival to acquaint our circle a bit more with our Asian Pacific neighbors. We get hip to Japanese music, the Taiko drum and connect the history of Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps and why the thought of “you know who” as the next US President terrifies our guests.

Guest Profiles


Vanessa Yuille is an independent filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles with roots in the Bay Area as well as a Masters in motion arts and television from Academy of Art University. As a descendent of Japanese American and “Milwaukeean” parents Vanessa had questions about her country, heritage and why her mother who grew up in San Francisco was born in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Answers eventually came along with “An American Contradiction” where Vanessa documents her trip to the city in which Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII. The film is an Official Selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival, DocUtah Film Festival, and the Milwaukee Film Festival.



Grace Horikiri, who also goes by “G”, is definitely going to give you a hug when you meet. She’s that kind of bubbly, passionate and friendly soul. As the Executive Director of the Nihonmachi Street Festival the organization’s core message of "For the Community, Embracing All Communities" is also reflected in Grace's own commitment to the her tribe. And her tribe is made up a vast array of humans but especially Asian Pacific communities and in particular the non-profit organizations that provide vital services & programs to places like her beloved Japantown, or Nihonmachi.

Grace has been part of this important cultural effort for over 40 years starting first as a youth volunteer and then leading the organization for the last 20 years. Grace is passionate about her community’s youth, elders and the fact that San Francisco’s Japantown is one of only three (incl. San Jose and Los Angeles) left in the United States. Give her and her a team a shout on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or via Email.



Alex J. Sinclair, who smiles much more often than one might think from this bad ass picture, is the Production Manager for San Francisco Taiko Dojo which has been performing at the SF Nihonmachi Street Festival for over 45 years. Alex, originally from Scotland, has been living in the SF Bay Area for the last decade and has been playing Taiko for the last five years. He declares that the Japanese and Scottish cultures have humility plus the love of fish and drums in common!

San Francisco Taiko Dojo was founded in 1968 by Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka who is considered to be the father of the modern taiko in Northern America. To Tanaka, taiko drumming can be quickly expressed by the word heartbeat. “We listen to it before we are born... it is instinctive” says the man that thousands call “Sensei”. Get connected on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Show Notes

Sponsor message donated to Nihonmachi Street Festival by The Ambassadors Circle

Shout out to Jiajun Wang, Mark Siwakorn and Geoffrey Wilson of Physicians Organizing Committee

What’s the 411:


Top 5 Events:

  • Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals at the Fox Theatre on August 17th
  • Real Talk! Black Women and Health Care on August 17th at the Impact Hub in Oakland presented by The Registry and the African American Employee Network
  • An evening with Congressman John Lewis also on August 17th at USF and presented by Mo’Magic
  • Funnyman Jerry Seinfeld live at Flint Center in Cupertino on August 18th and 19th
  • Art & Soul Oakland on August 20th and 21st in downtown Oakland


Production: Sound Design by Courtney Grace with Hosts Becca, Courtney Grace, Noel Anaya and j-

Music: 360BayArea intro music by Courtney Grace with vocals by Elle T

Featured Music and Quick clips:
Mary J Blige “What’s the 411
Drake ft Future “Grammys
Perfume “Fresh
Buddah Brand “Buddah Brand Mix
George Takei on MSNBC
Nujabes “Aruarian Dance
Yoshito Brothers “Fukaki Umi No Kanata
Redman “Time 4 sum Aktion
President Ronald Reagan re: 1988 Civil Liberties Act

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  • Mere mention of Nujabes might make this the best 360 episode yet!