(Video) Tribute to Molly Kitajima


Screenshot 2014-06-06 10.27.55


A (video) Tribute to

Mary ‘Molly’ Kitajima

October 25, 1925 – January 25, 2014




Just by looking at her, these may not be the first words you would use to describe Molly Kitajima.
Her small stature contradicts her monumental life.
But then you take a closer look.
Her face tells her story.
Each wrinkle is like a road she’s traveled in her life.
And then you notice the glimmer in her eyes.
It hints to the fiery and passionate personality within.

Molly reminded us to live life with a kind and generous heart, and to always, always stand for what you believe in. Battles large and small, she always fought for what was just, wanting to leave the world better than when she came.

<<audio>> “They’re saying don’t rock the boat. And I’m saying ‘what? why?’ Nobody knows about us being incarnated”
Molly lived through the Japanese incarcerations during World War II in Canada. Her family was relocated and forced to work on a sugar beet farm. She later moved to California and was very vocal in the Redress Movement, fighting to obtain restitution of civil rights for Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated by the U.S. government. Once the U.S. government offered an apology, Molly when back to Canada to start the Movement for Redress there.

Molly was an inspiration to us as A FIERCE WOMAN as well a taiko player. She started playing taiko at the age of 64, and continued well into her late 80s. She not only played taiko, but lead two groups, Onami Taiko and Heiwa Taiko, a grandma-only taiko group. Molly was a role model, reminding us that that life was yours to live and you could do anything at any age.

Members of The Genki Spark shared the stage with her at the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in 2012. She calmed our pre-performance jitters by advising us to “let let it all hang out.” It was an honor to share our spirit with her through taiko — She told us “You guys make me young all of a sudden.”
We were fortunate to have the honor of calling Molly our friend.

Please join us in celebrating Molly as we play “Nakama No Uta” a piece that Molly taught us about friendship.



Narration by LeeAnn Teylan, Performed by members of The Genki Spark. Submitted by: Karen


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