Thursday, September 10, 2015

Red Brick - 赤レンガ + Thoughts in Hiroshima

I just logged on here and realized it's been months since my last post!  A lot has been happening this Summer.  Big surprises to reveal, the completion of a new album -- but more on these later -- I promise!

I've just read through all of your beautiful comments on my After The Rain post about the smells that remind you of home, or memories.  They were all so touching.  Reading each one brought me peace and calm.  If you missed the post, or would like to read the other comments, you can find them here:  After The Rain.

The NHK movie "Red Brick" is premiering in the Chugoku region of Japan today, September 11th!
Watch the Trailer

I spent most of June in Hiroshima shooting a made-for-TV movie for NHK, entitled "赤レンガ" [Red Brick].  I played the role of a Japanese-American singer-songwriter who travels to Japan for the first time to search for her Grandfather's 1st true love, only to learn the truth about their complicated love and the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.  Being an actress was really never something I ever considered seriously pursuing.  But the Director and Writer, Mamoru Ohashi, has been a friend and supporter of mine for the past few years, and after hearing the message of the story, it was hard for me to say "no", despite all of my anxieties of being an actress!

Besides my fear of acting, as a Korean-American, who's Grandparents were actually affected by WWII in a nation that was once colonized by Japan, I did have some other real reservations in playing this part.  After explaining the story to my Mother (who is Korean), she gave me her blessing by assuring me this film had a good message in the end.  And she is right.  No matter what the complicated history is, the most important thing is how we can spread peace and shed positive light on today, for a better tomorrow.

I will be honest... it wasn't easy in the beginning.  Every morning I would get a Japanese newspaper in English delivered to my hotel room.  I mostly carried the paper around with me to work on the crossword puzzles in my downtime, but it was hard to ignore some of the front page articles dealing with the ongoing ill feelings between Japan and South Korea.  It actually hurt my heart to read about the endless back and forth between the two countries... which really, for all their differences, have just as many similarities.  I know this to be true, because I have friends in both countries who are open minded, kind, and compassionate people, and don't think in terms of black and white, as these newspapers were sometimes conveying.  (I also know that the Korean newspapers publish very similar feelings and points of view, similar to the Japanese papers)

I was having a hard time digesting all these feelings as I walked around the city.  I'm used to staying in bigger cities, like Tokyo and Osaka, where a tourist on the street is no big deal.  But Hiroshima is a bit different.  Most of the tourists who are there, are there to visit historical sites that have been left standing as a reminder of the atomic bomb.  People are there to pay their respects, or to learn more about a dark part of our history as mankind, or just out of curiosity... but it all revolves around one thing pretty much.  So as a Korean and an American... it was a strange feeling for me.

Hiroshima Castle

One night, the Director took some of us to his favorite okonomiyaki restaurant.  Okonomiyaki is a specialty in Hiroshima.  Usually it's made with meat or seafood.  The chef at this place knew I was vegetarian, so he generously prepared a very special meal just for us.  The first thing I saw when we entered the restaurant was that all the seats were ready for us around the teppan, and at each seat, there were little dishes of Korean kimchee!  I was so moved by this gesture.  This chef had just bridged a painful gap in my heart, simply by setting out kimchee for us.  And this wasn't any ol' kimchee.  This tasted like real, authentic kimchee!  At the end of the meal, he made us rice porridge (something my Mom always made for me when my tummy wasn't feeling well), with radish kimchee and umeboshi (pickled plum - another Japanese food favorite of mine).  After the first bite, I actually almost cried.  I had to fight to keep the tears and overwhelming emotion in.  It was the ultimate comfort food to heal my heart and settle the complicated feelings I'd been working out in my stomach.  I will never forget this meal, or this Japanese man's kindness on this night.  From that meal on, I was able to feel more at ease at just being myself, knowing that whatever the history has been between South Korea and Japan, or Japan and the U.S., when we get down to it...we're not a world made up of countries.  We're a world made up of people.  Human beings with hearts and individual stories.

Goichi-san ~ the Chef, and I, after my life-changing meal!

But making this film wasn't all complicated feelings!  It was a great experience in which I made a lot of new friends and worked with amazing people, and actually had fun acting!  I was surprised at this last part.  Even though I was nervous every day, I actually enjoyed playing a "character".  I can't say if I was any good at it, but I had fun doing it!

Akira Takarada plays my Grandfather.
He starred in the original "Godzilla"! 

Shinobu-san is always making sure I stay out of the sun and stay hydrated. :)

My adorable translator, Mirei Yamagata, enjoying soondooboo jigae with me.

Inside the Red Brick building.

Tomoko Naraoka plays my Grandfather's 1st love.
She has such a strong spirit.  She was very patient with me, and taught me a lot!

This was the hardest scene for me!
I had to lead the cast in a march as we each said meaningful things in Japanese, at a certain pace of walking.
I kept messing up!!!  Too much pressure!

Yuichi Fujisawa, amazing hammer dulcimer player who is featured in one of the songs I wrote for the movie, and my co-star.
Here we are enjoying some after-work veggie okonomiyaki and ice cold beverages.

On our day off, some of us visited the gorgeous and healing island of Miyajima.
I hope to return here again one day.

My favorite, karaimen from Karabu!
I got up to #18 on the spice chart!

My Director, Mamoru Ohashi, enjoying a delicious green tea ice cream cone on one of the very few breaks he had.

From bottom left:  Reika-san, my hair and makeup artist; Mirei-san, my translator; Sayaka-san, wardrobe artist; myself.
Day off bowling!  

The most wonderful and amazing
and hard working crew!!!
I still miss them all!

Anyway, this post has become so long.  Maybe that's why I've been avoiding writing it.  But I wanted to share this with you all.  I know our world is filled with painful history, and cultural and religious differences.  But I also know that our world is filled with individual people, all made up of the same blood, bones, joys, heartbreak, fears and dreams.  No matter what is going on politically, or what has happened in the past.... I believe in each and every one of us.  We make up the energy of this world, of this life.  I promise you that I will teach my children to love and respect your children no matter where we come from.  And one of the best ways I know how to do this is by setting that example.  Thank you to everyone around the world who has shown me such kindness and acceptance, whether it was by helping me find my way in a new city, supporting my music, or setting out a small bowl of kimchee to make me feel more at home.  Thank you for inspiring me, and reminding me of how we are all in this together.

p. a.


  1. There are many great musicians and songwriters out there, but what truly keeps your fans support is the sincerity that is so richly permeated through your music and actions. As a fellow Korean American, I also found it hard initially to overlook our history with the Japanese culture, but I realized much like you did, the actions of hatred of the few with power and the past do not represent the whole. I think that was conveyed through the food as well ! Food can be true fuel to the soul, and not just the body at times. The best thing about food is that it brings all sorts of different people to the table and you all eat the same meal with smiles and joy. I think you're an amazing individual to step out of your comfort zone and undertake an acting position for such a role! I'm so excited to hear about a new album and can't wait to hear new updates and eventually get to watch this movie!!!

    Your friend,
    Josh Lee

    1. Hi Josh!

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful realization... and I agree -- food can really bring people together in a soulful way. Making good food for each other can be such a gift to people who are meant to eat it. I hope you get a chance to see the movie sometime... it really does have a good message. :)

  2. " I promise you that I will teach my children to love and respect your children no matter where we come from." Lovely words!

    1. Aw, thank you! I truly mean it... I can't wait to teach my son all the good stuff. ;)

  3. Very thoughtful and heartwarming just as your music :) I think we could do so much more if we were just a little better at setting aside our differences and let the past be past.

    Cannot wait to hear about your new album :)

    1. I totally agree with you! I'm so happy there are people out there who feel the same way. With everything that's happening in the world right now... it really takes people like us to bring peace into our daily lives. I believe it adds up somehow...

  4. To my mind, you engulf the frame.
    i'm easily irritated so am grateful for your modelling. Dedicated to peace is a mighty fine way to be.

    1. Trust me... you should see me driving sometimes... I get angry at people all the time! I'm definitely not a Mother Theresa or anything. But if we can remember to try to let peace motivate our actions... I feel like it's a good start! ;)

    2. i've seen you drive! In the video clip for "Remember when I broke your heart", the one with the double 'no parking' sign. Granted, you were driving under controlled conditions but there was other traffic around.
      You're right. Having peace as motivation is a good start. Not always easy though.

  5. Priscilla, you have such a beautiful soul and a big heart...thanks for sharing this.

  6. Hi, Priscilla ^^
    I've just found your blog! I was searching for "Dream" on Google and saw your blog. Dream has marked my past and It's one of my favorite songs. I apologize if there is some mistakes of english here, I'm not 100% yet...haha'
    I've never tought to visit Japan, I don't know why, but after your post, I'm very curious to see this place and to know a different country. I'm brazilian, so I think the differences on the culture of the both countries are too many. Anyway, I loved your post, I agree with you when you said that people should respect each other no matter where they come from, what religion they follow or anything. We should love every one, no matter what happened in the past or what is going on now. I'm curious to see de movie, seems like a great story!
    I've just made a post about you, with five of my favorite songs:

    Bye ♥

    1. Hi!

      Wow... thank you so much for your sweet post of your five favorite songs!! I was surprised to see "It's Gonna Be Alright" on there! That's an oldie... ha!

      Japan is such a wonderful place to visit. People are very nice there, the food is so good, great shopping, and strong culture. But I have never been to Brazil before -- I love the food, the music, and the language so much. I hope one day I can go there!! I think traveling is so good for the soul.
      And by the way -- your English is GREAT! I wish us Americans had more incentive to learn another language. :/


  7. I haven't come to visit your blog for a while, but by your tweet, I know that you did some Japanese TV drama during last summer. After I have read your this message, I really would like to watch your work, "Red-brick"( I live in Tokyo, unfortunately they don't broadcast it in my region). Not only my Granma was born in Hiroshima, but also I sympathized what you wrote.
    I have spent my college years in the U.S., so I have similar experiences like you explain here. As you know, just being in Japan, we really don't need to think about cultural and religious differences, but in America, everyday I had to face it. So I can imagine how hard for you to play a Japanese role, especially you have a Korean background (Some Korean friends told me how Korean people think about Japanese in general). I was glad that you care about your mother's feeling about doing it. And also I was impressed by your mother’s response. Through this drama, some Japanese get interestin you and maybe your part of a background, Korean culture, too.
    Having a different culture background, it is hard sometimes, but it can be wonderful things to share the difference.
    I know we can make a world more peaceful place with compassion and respect for each other.
    Well,I really like your music and voice, your music and voice reflect your inner beauty so much, and it touches many people around the world.  We are lucky to know you and your music, Priscilla!


    1. Hi Eri,

      You are too sweet. Thank you for your post. I'm so sorry if your Grandma suffered during the war. I cannot even imagine how things must have been back then for everyone.
      Having cultural differences and complicated pasts can be difficult to overcome sometimes... but it's good to remember that we're all human beings sharing this Earth together, and maybe we can unite in this way. :)

      Thank you so much for your support! And I hope you get a chance to watch "Akarenga" now that it's aired in Tokyo!

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  9. Dear Priscilla,

    I am a Japanese-American (Japanese mom, white dad) and have struggled at times with my own heritage in terms of Japan's role in the history of Asia vs Japan as it is today. I was moved by your blog post about visiting Japan as a Korean-American and I think you said a lot of beautiful things about your experiences there. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Dear Lily,

      Thank you so much for writing me. This means a lot to me to hear that as a Japanese-American you've also struggled with feelings about the past. War is such a complicated and sad thing... it's hopeful to know that there are other people out there thinking similar things and wanting to not repeat the past.

  10. Dear Priscilla,

    It's been a while since I've visited your blog, but I am never disappointed by your brilliant photos and inspirational, introspective thoughts. I have visited Hiroshima twice and experienced similar things (Peace Park, okonomiyaki, Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine), so this entry really resonated with me. And very recently, President Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Hiroshima, and I wonder what your thoughts are on that. There was some criticism from the usual cynics and haters, but I wish those people would put aside their selfish, polarizing opinions for once and appreciate the magnitude of the gesture and moment. Hopefully the Japanese PM will return the favor and visit Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary of the attack this year, although that is a much different setting.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment but just wanted to share my thoughts. Congratulations on your first child, and I look forward to your new album... no rush of course! My good friend just had a baby too, so I'll prolly buy her a copy. :)


    P.S. So happy to discover you are on Instagram!! Just recently got addicted to IG.

  11. Hi Robert,

    Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog. And to be honest, I feel very similarly to you about President Obama's visit. I was actually pretty shocked when I learned that he was the first U.S. President to visit Hiroshima since WWII, and acknowledge what happened there! But he took the time to go there and do just that, and I think that's pretty commendable. And I'm so sure that on a personal, human level, of course he is sorry for what happened there, as we all are. But so much of those speeches are politics and broad gestures, and just can't be taken personally in the end, unfortunately. Understandably, it's such a sensitive topic, so I do see it from both sides. But I feel at this point, we need to stop looking for apologies and depending on them in order to move forward, but instead, move forward on our own accord. I think what we all need to take from the horrors that happened in the past, is to never forget them and never repeat them.

    On a much lighter note ~ IG is super addicting! ha!