The Wash (1988 film)

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The Wash is a 1988 film by American playwright and filmmaker Philip Kan Gotanda, based on his 1985 play of the same name. It tells the story of a newly separated nisei couple, husband Nobu and wife Masi, and their individual and collective struggles with their past, which along with their marriage centered on Japanese tradition, despite their residing in the United States.

Plot summary[edit]

After what is implied to be many stressful years of mistreatment, Masi leaves Nobu early in the story, due to his intolerably sexist nature, is able to move on, and begins dating the widower Sadao. Nobu does not similarly move on and begins to panic at the loss of Masi. As a result of this "abandonment", as Nobu tends to classify it, Nobu is forced to confront both his traumatic memories of the Japanese American internment camps, which the story establishes as the root of his inflexible nature, and the reality of the consequences this inflexibility has finally produced for him. The story does not end with any reunion between Masi and Nobu; Masi not only stays with Sadao; she also, symbolically, in the final scene, refuses to any longer launder Nobu's clothes for him, as she had during all their years of marriage. It is this aspect of the plot from which the story's name is obtained.


The Wash was first performed as a play in 1985; Gotanda then wrote the screenplay for the 1988 independent film version.[1][2] Nobu McCarthy and Sab Shimono reprised their roles from the stage production for the movie.


  1. ^ James, Caryn (August 17, 1988). "Review/Film; 'The Wash,' an Exploring of Ties That Break and of Ties That Bind". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Race and Pedagogy Project (August 27, 2006). "Philip Kan Gotanda's The Wash". University of California at Santa Barbara. Archived from the original on August 18, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (Keywords: UCSB Courses, English 50, Asian American, Film)

External links[edit]