Gold Hill Samurai

Gold Hill Samurai is a new play inspired by the life of Okei-san and the earliest Japanese settlers in California who founded the Wakamatsu Tea & Silk colony. Gold Hill Samurai first premiered at the WakamatsuFest150.

groupedited.png

About this play

In 2018, American River Conservancy commissioned See The Elephant to create a play for the 150th Anniversary of the Wakamatsu Colony in Coloma, California. Jamie Van Camp, in collaboration with ARC docents and many from the Japanese American community, set to work researching the history and creating a theatrical re-telling that would highlight the struggles and triumphs at the heart of the Aizu people’s migration to California. Okei-san is the reason that we know this story; she has become a legend. But it took all the characters together to make this story come to life. Learning about these figures and their real lives helped to create a deeper understanding of just how much they all needed each other on this journey. Working on this script was a great privilege, and Jamie is thankful for the immense help and feedback from all the people involved to help tell this story in a way that honors and respects the history, making sure the heart of it stays intact.

Okei and her mother. Photo by Menka Belgal Photography

Okei and her mother. Photo by Menka Belgal Photography

Kuni and a miner. Photo by Menka Belgal Photography

Kuni and a miner. Photo by Menka Belgal Photography

What’s Next? See The Elephant hopes to continue producing Gold Hill Samurai in the local area. If you are interested in bringing this show to your school or organization, or if you want to become a Supporter of this project, please send us a message

We saw the play at [the Wakamatsufest], and my seven-year-old was mesmerized by the “real” Samurais. I liked the dialogues and the juxtaposition of the Japanese and American cultures. It was truly a living history experience.
— Audience member at Wakamatsufest150