Japanese Traditional Artist Survey


This collection documents several groups practicing the traditional arts and folkways of Japan within the context of the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne regions. The materials were collected as part of an ongoing project by Traditional Arts Indiana which aims to preserve and promote folklife in Indiana. In this project, special emphasis is placed on the traditions practiced in Indiana by minorities and immigrant groups. This particular collection shows the diversity of Japanese folk traditions practiced in metropolitan areas in the United States, and examines how these traditions have changed as they have been transmitted transnationally and passed generationally.

Among the participants in this study are: YuYukai (a group of Okinawan immigrants who practice the traditional dances of ryubu and eisa), the founders of Zentai Martial Arts (a registered Bujinkan dojo), a group of origimai makers who meet as the IRON Folders, kamishibai story teller Dorothy Kittaka, and the Indianapolis Minyo Dancers, Inc. (who perform the traditional dance style, minyo).
Fieldwork conducted between 9/12/2009-3/12/2011
Languages: English and Japanese


Kate Schramm (TAI); Mineko Grunow; Matthew Noll; Seiji Bryant; Junko Hisano; Judy Merritt; Kazuhiro Kitaoka; Hiroko Burns; Austin Arnold; Denise Walker; Brian Webb; James Hughey; Aaron Hughey; Jordan Smith; Susan Thomas; Dorothy Kittaka; Toshiko Buck; Yaoko Covillon; Michiko Hashimoto; Chieko Jacobs; Dean Houser; Jay Zimmerman


Zentai Martial Arts

Jay Zimmerman and Dean Houser are instructors in the Bujinkan school of martial arts. Bujinkan consists of nine different martial arts traditions brought together by the school’s founder, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi.

Dorothy Kittaka

Dorothy Kometani Kittaka is second generation Japanese-American. She practices kamishibai, the Japanese art of "paper theatre."

Mineko Grunow

Mineko Grunow is a first-generation immigrant from Okinawa, Japan. Her house in Indianapolis forms the hub of activity for the Okinawa YuYuKai, a group dedicated to preserving and experiencing Okinawan cultural heritage.

IRON Folders

The Indiana Regional Origami Network of Folders, or IRON Folders for short, is a regional chapter of Origami USA, a nonprofit based out of New York City.

Indianapolis Minyo Dancers, Incorporated

The Indianapolis Minyo Dancers, Inc., perform throughout the year at various cultural and educational events, as well as for nursing homes and schools.