Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Nikiko Masumoto keeps the Valley in touch with Japanese American history

(Photo by Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee. Nikiko Masumoto performs “What We Could Carry.”)

Nikiko Masumoto is a peach farmer and public arts performer.

During the day, Masumoto helps her father, David Mas Masumoto, on the family’s Del Rey farm where they grow peaches, nectarines and grapes.

And in the evening and weekends, Nikiko Masumoto visits libraries and schools where she performs “What We Could Carry” – a play she wrote about the experiences of Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

Masumoto performed the play during the annual Day of Remembrance and Installation luncheon hosted by the Central California District Council of the Japanese American Citizens League on Feb. 17. Read my story about her performance and the luncheon here.

Since then, I’ve gotten a number of phone calls and emails – including one from a former teacher – who all wanted to know when she will perform locally again.

Masumoto is working with Willow International Community College Center in Clovis on an April 19 performance. No word yet on what time.

But you can visit her blog at whatwecouldcarry.wordpress to keep up with her work and her performance schedule.

Continue below for more about Masumoto’s play.

The 27-year-old wrote the play for her masters thesis in performance as public practice at The University of Texas at Austin. She graduated in 2011.

Public performance is a big change from her undergrad work in gender and women studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her days spent on a peach farm.

But Masumoto told me it was something she had to do in order to explore her heritage as a fourth-generation Japanese American.

“I went to grad school knowing I had to do this,” Masumoto said. “I had dreams and was haunted knowing I had to do this research.”

Watch this clip for a brief introduction of “What We Could Carry.”

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