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Storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki Gains Strength from Traditional Ghost Stories

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA) , October 23, 2004


Brenda Wong Aoki and her husband and collaborator, noted jazz bassist and composer Mark Izu, are presenting a musical tapestry of fantastical tales in their fourth annual "Ghost Festival" on Halloween weekend at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

"Mermaid Meat and Other Japanese Ghost Stories," which runs Friday through Oct. 31, offers spine-prickling stories of a dead wife's revenge, a regretful mermaid and mournful bells, as well as the thundering drums of special guest Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

Ghost stories resonate this time of year, but to Aoki, they have an enduring power all their own.

"When you're a ghost, what's left is your story, to pass on to the yet unborn," she says, with a meaningful smile. "What's fascinating about ghost stories is that they transcend race and everything else. That's because they have to do with the human condition -- greed, jealousy, love."

Subjects Covered: storytelling festivals

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