CRUISIN’ J-TOWN celebrates the music and influences of contemporary Asian American culture on Dan Kuramoto, June Okida Kuramoto, and Johnny Mori — three musicians who make up the core of the jazz fusion band Hiroshima.

“The closest thing so far to the definitive Sansei film. Heavily influenced by Afro-Asian-Latin culture, CRUISIN’ J-TOWN documents the musical and political influences that shaped the original Hiroshima sound, with the koto…and taiko drums at the heart of the band and Asian America’s socio-political milieu at its soul.”

Renee Tajima-Peña, filmmaker/professor
Synopsis: 

In CRUISIN’ J-TOWN, the roots of the popular jazz fusion band Hiroshima are evident in the opening scenes of pre-redevelopment Little Tokyo. Against a vibrant backdrop of community gatherings, daily interaction with people of various backgrounds, and band rehearsals, the group members discuss the sociological and cultural pulse of the early 1970s. Dan Kuramoto describes the political movements of the 1960s out of which Asian American music and art emerged. June Kuramoto relates being ridiculed in her youth for playing the Japanese koto, while percussionist Johnny Mori delves into the influence of African American, Latino and rock music on his art. A revealing dialog between Dan Kuramoto and El Teatro Campesino’s Danny Valdez underscores the meaning of pan-ethnic unity, and a spirited, cross-cultural rendition of El Teatro Campersino’s “America de los Indios” closes the film on an inspiring note.

     CRUISIN’ J-TOWN is the creation of Duane Kubo, one of the founding members of the vanguard Asian American media arts organization, Visual Communications. The film, one of the most popular titles in the Visual Communications library, is considered a classic of its time.

Reviews

Director's Commentary: 

Making CRUISIN’ J-TOWN was a fun experience because it talked about ‘values’ and stuff., and it talked about a specific time and a specific sub-culture, and it talked to hopes and dreams.
— Excerpted from an interview conducted by Arthur Dong, August, 1990