What originally inspired me to write Japanese Eyes/American Heart? I was pondering over what to do for my final project and thesis for my graduate degree. I had just read William Shakespeare’s The Tempest because of the film adaptation by Juli Taymor was going to be released in the winter. I was looking at the American Flag from my Grandpa’s funeral hanging on my wall and I thought, “How neat would it be if I set The Tempest in 1860’s Hawaii?” My Grandpa was born and raised in Hawaii and my Great-Grandfather immigrated to Hawaii in the 1860’s and started the first Buddhist Temple in Oahu. Yes, it all started with a Shakespeare adaptation.
Then, I was chatting with Dr. D.J. Hopkins; telling him about my idea and the story of my Grandpa. He was fascinated with my Grandpa’s story and it was all history from there. I asked Dr. Peter Larlham to be my advisor and we had a good conversation as well. At that moment, I was ready to do anything. Then as soon as I got home. The inspiration dwindled. I couldn’t even come up with a good title. So I settled on the title, Japanese Eyes/American Heart, it was inspired by the title of one of the books from my research, Japanese Eyes American Heart by the Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board. It’s still the working title, only because I think I could come up with something more original. I figured this play won’t go further than school and I wasn’t charging for tickets and it was going to end with a simple staged reading.
My first draft was terrible. I basically wrote about 20 pages of work and every other scene was a chunk of The Tempest. After having another meeting with Peter, I needed to look for more inspiration rather than sit on my couch and wait for it to come to me.
It wasn’t until I heard this when I finally found the path that my play would descend upon:
That’s all for now!