Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How to get your Japanese citizenship back

Photo credit: DiscoverNikkei.org

I grew up a dual national. I was born in Japan but my mother is an American citizen so she reported my birth abroad (see also: Wikipedia). The United States uses the jus sanguinis – meaning "right of blood" – principle to determine nationality so because my mother was a US citizen, she could apply to have my birth recognized by the US, thus giving me citizenship.

Having spent the majority of my life in the US, when it came time for me to choose a nationality, the obvious choice was to renounce my Japanese citizenship. I was attending college in the US, could no longer speak Japanese fluently and had no plans to ever return to Japan to live. I had also been living under the illusion that I had fully assimilated into American society.

The first time I came to regret my choice was during the 2000 election. Friends with European heritage looked into the possibility of applying for citizenship in their families' homelands and some actually went through with it. But as terrified as I was of living under a Bush presidency, my life was here and my Japanese fluency had only declined since I had renounced my citizenship. I figured that it was an impossible task. Then I thought about it again in 2004 and on and off since then. It's been on my mind ever since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee.

The US and Japan have enjoyed a surprisingly cozy relationship for the past 71 years given the brutal history of WWII. When I read about the Japanese American incarceration and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki I frankly do not understand how Japanese and Japanese Americans are able to embrace America. However, at this point it's difficult to imagine the US-Japan relationship deteriorating any time soon given that the two nations are dependent on one another. But who knows. I don't think that Japanese Americans in the 1940s thought that what happened to them could ever happen.

I used to feel secure in my status as a US citizen but as I have gotten older I have realized that for some Americans, you're only American as long as it's convenient for them. It doesn't matter that my mom's side of the family has been here for more than 100 years – for some people that's not long enough. I also have a Japanese father and the United States is not the land of my birth. The only reason I have US citizenship is due to a legal technicality. While I believe these people represent only a small fraction of Americans all it takes is for a few of the wrong people to be in power.

One of my friends who is Jewish (though not religious) sent me this text earlier today about something her seven-and-a-half-year-old half-Jewish daughter had said: "Did I tell you that [my daughter] said 'I don't want Donald Trump to be president. I don't want to do the Anne Frank thing.'" [She learned about the Holocaust and Anne Frank from BrainPOP]. I asked why her daughter was scared given that they aren't Muslim and my friend said: "She knows that she is Jewish, and she knows he wants to ban people of one religion. And she knows all about the Holocaust. She is afraid of being rounded up. I cried when I assured her that wouldn't happen no matter who wins." Parents in democratic countries should not have to have these conversations with their children.

I never thought that in my lifetime I would see a return to the sort of racist injustice and fearmongering that led to 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans being locked up by the US government for the crime of being Japanese, yet here we are. Earlier this year American-Japanese artist Setsuko Winchester wrote about a conversation she had with a park ranger at Tule Lake in which he told her that they had seen an increase in the number of visitors last year. "The problem he said was that they weren’t coming to uncover this dark part of US history. Rather, they were coming because “they wanted to know how internment worked” — and they were doing so “because they heard Trump and some mayor say it was an example the government might re-think to solve the Muslim-American problem." This story has haunted me ever since. 

With that in mind, I decided it was time to stop wondering and find out what else besides intensive language lessons I would need to reacquire my Japanese citizenship. I called the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston and the staffer I spoke with kindly emailed me some links after our call.

The first step in reacquiring Japanese citizenship seems to be to live in Japan for a minimum of three years (the residency requirement for foreign nationals who do not have a Japanese parent is ten years) as laid out in Article 6 (ii) of the Nationality Act. In order to do that I was told that the relevant visa is the one for "Spouse/child of Japanese national". Although it does seem that in the case of a former Japanese national the Minister of Justice can permit naturalization if you have a domicile in Japan per Article 8 (iii) so I'm not entirely sure if I bought property in Japan if I could bypass the three year residency requirement.

第六条 次の各の一に該当する外国人で現に日本に住所を有するものについては、務大臣は、その者が前条第一第一に掲げる条件を備えないときでも、帰化許可することができる
Article 6 The Minister of Justice may permit naturalization for a foreign national currently having a domicile in Japan who falls under one of the following items even if that person has not met the conditions listed in the preceding Article, paragraph (1), item (i):

二 日本で生まれた者で引き続き三年以上日本に住所若しくは居所を有し、又はその若しくは母(養父母を除く。)が日本で生まれたもの
(ii) A person born in Japan, and continuously having a domicile or residence in Japan for three years or more or whose father or mother (excluding an adoptive parent) was born in Japan;

It seems that the biggest hurdle to reacquiring my Japanese citizenship would be my lack of fluency. At my age and given how complex Japanese is, it feels like it would be nearly impossible but there's that old aphorism: "desperate times call for desperate measures." Renouncing my US citizenship might ultimately be the most difficult part since the bulk of my family is in the US.

Japan has its own problems and their fate is closely tied to the US's but sometimes I feel like if I'm going to live in a country where I'll never be fully accepted would I rather live here or in Japan? It's not an easy question to answer. This election cycle it has felt like the US is regressing, not moving forward. Some would argue that Japan is having similar problems with rising Japanese nationalism and attempts to return to more traditional values but when I hear news about changing attitudes towards Okinawans and gaikokujin and see the incredible aerial footage of mass anti-nuclear, anti-security bill (article), and anti-US military protests it feels like Japan is poised to make some real progress. It could be a grass is greener on the other side of the Atlantic fantasy but at least now I know what my options are.

Disclaimer: Any errors in this piece are due to my own misunderstanding. If you are thinking about returning to Japan and reacquiring your Japanese citizenship please contact your local embassy, consulate, or permanent mission for more information.

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This post has been crossposted at Discover Nikkei, a multi-lingual Nikkei online community. 

From their website: "Discover Nikkei is a community website about Nikkei identity, history and experiences. The goal of this project is to provide an inviting space for the community to share, explore, and connect with each other through diverse Nikkei experiences, culture, and history." Discover Nikkei is coordinated by the Japanese American National Museum and supported by The Nippon Foundation.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

8th Annual Boston Asian American Film Festival Oct 20-23

The 8th annual Boston Asian American Film Festival runs from October 20th to 23rd. This year's festival has films from a Japanese American filmmaker, a Japanese-Brazilian filmmaker, a Japanese animator, and a film about a local Japanese American mental health activist. Check out the other films here.

I'm really excited that Emerson College alum Matthew Hashiguchi's film Good Luck Soup will be screened for free at BAAFF! The film is being co-presented with Emerson's Bright Lights Series. Good Luck Soup is a transmedia documentary. Check out the film's interactive site. This is Matthew's second film at BAAFF. People Aren't All Bad with Yutaka Kobayashi was in the 2012 Shorts Program.

Good Luck Soup

Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 7:00 - 9:00pm (admission is free but you need to RSVP for tickets
Bright Family Screening Room @ The Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111
Film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Matthew.
Directed by Matthew Hashiguchi
2016 | 70 mins | USA | Documentary 

After years of rejecting his Japanese heritage, filmmaker Matthew Hashiguchi sets out on a humorous yet insightful journey to discover if his joyful grandmother and other family members also struggled with their Japanese American identities, just as he did while growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood in the Midwest. Along the way, Matthew uncovers the family’s decades-long struggle to assimilate into the Midwest and obtains insightful, yet humorous wisdom from his grandmother on how she overcame racial adversity after leaving the WWII Japanese American Internment Camps.

Shorts: Be True

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 1:30pm (tickets)
Bright Family Screening Room @ The Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111
Followed by Q&A with various filmmakers.

Leandro Tadashi, a Japanese-Brazilian filmmaker, filmed in Brazil. The full film can be seen on Vimeo (click the blue "CC" for subtitles in English, Japanese, Spanish, French and Portuguese!). I emailed with Leandro and learned that his grandmother, Yuriko Miamoto Shimata, plays Bruno's Bá. She also starred in his 2011 short Oyasuminasai. Unfortunately, Leandro won't be able to make it for the Q&A.

Written & directed by Leandro Tadashi
2015 | 14 mins | Brazil | Drama

Tells the story of a little Japanese-Brazilian boy named Bruno, whose life is turned upside down when his "Bá" (from Bāchan, grandma in Japanese) is brought to live in his house.

Shorts: It's Complicated

Sunday, October 23, 2016, 1:00pm (tickets)
Bright Family Screening Room @ The Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111
Followed by Q&A with various filmmakers.

Directed by Kathryn Klingle
2016 | USA | 9 mins | Documentary

"Pata" explores what role chronic depression has played in the life of Pata Suyemoto--teacher, artist, mental health activist.

Asian CineVision has an interesting interview with Masayuki Kusaka, the producer of Harry on the Clouds. The film was originally produced as a music video for the Japanese band, RAM WIRE, with the title 僕らの手には何もないけど (Bokura no te ni wa nani mo naikedo) "Although there is nothing in our hands". They changed the soundtrack and sent it off to film festivals around the world. [Special thanks to Sachiko T for translation help!]

Harry on the Clouds
Directed by Aya Shiroi (城井文)
2016 | Japan | 4 mins | Drama (Animated)

Mother sheep can't wake up because Harry was gone. But Harry is looking his mother from the clouds.

See trailers for 16 films in this year's festival:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Film: East Coast premiere of Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps


Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps

Directed by Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong
2014 | 56 mins | Documentary

“Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the World War II Internment Camps” is the full title of this documentary, using historical footage and interviews from artists who were interned to tell the story of how traditional Japanese cultural arts were maintained at a time when the War Relocation Authority (WRA) emphasized the importance of assimilation and Americanization.  Various essays and studies concerning the camps have been published, but have focused on the political and legal aspects of the internment, while hardly mentioning cultural and recreational activities in the camps.  When cultural and recreational activities have been documented, they have focused on American culture, such as baseball and swing music.  This film will be the first major presentation of the existence of traditional music, dance and drama in the camps.  It is possible only because Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong has been searching, researching and collecting for over 20 years information on who these artists were.  She has collected interviews, oral and visual histories, as well as artifacts from the internees and relatives of internees, including teachers, students, the performers, and the incredible artists who made instruments, costumes, and the props needed for a full performance from scraps of wood, toothbrush handles, gunny sacks, paint, and whatever they could scrape up.  Her own family’s history with the camps led her to become a kotoist and teacher of the Japanese koto (13-stringed zither).
Very little is known of the existence of traditional Japanese performance arts in the camps.  The artists Muramoto-Wong has interviewed are all Americans, all born here, but practiced Japanese arts before the war, during, and after the war, because they loved the art.  This made them “social activists” in their own quiet way, continuing the music and dance they loved, helping others to learn and enjoy these arts, and to help draw their attention away from their surroundings, giving them pride and self-esteem.  Their efforts kept Japanese cultural arts alive in our communities today.
We have interviewed 30 artists in the fields of music (koto, nagauta shamisen, shakuhachi, shigin, biwa), dance (buyo, obon) and drama (kabuki) who were interned at Tule Lake, Manzanar, Amache/Granada, Rohwer, Gila River, and Topaz.  We have interviewed Prof. Minako Waseda of Geijutsu Daigaku University of Music and Arts, and Kunitachi College of Music, both universities in Tokyo, whose research thesis, Extraordinary Circumstances, Exceptional Practices: Music in Japanese American Concentration Camps, had written the only scholarly work that had been published on this subject.  We are also interviewing students of these arts in America, some who learned from these artists, and some who are carrying on the tradition in our communities today, and some who have taken this knowledge, and expanded creatively and artistically in various imaginative ways.
Film locations include camps at Manzanar, Tule Lake, Heart Mountain; locations in Japan, such as Osaka, Kyoto, 3 Tokyo music universities (Tokyo Ongaku Daigaku, Geijutsu Daigaku, Kunitachi College of Music); Cherry Blossom Festivals in San Francisco and Cupertino; San Jose Obon Festival; Chidori Band 59th Anniversary Concert; Japanese American Museum of San Jose; dance studio of Bando Misayasu (aka Mary Arii Mah), and koto studio of Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong.
Film sponsored, in part, by the National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites grant.

Event Information
Film screening followed by Q&A with creative director Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong and actress Takayo Fischer with koto performance by Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong.

Date & Time
Monday, October 24, 2016
3:00 - 6:00pm

UMass Boston
McCormack Hall, Ryan Lounge, Room M-3-721 (3rd floor)
Dorchester, MA 02125

Campus Map
Parking Map 
Detailed parking information
Recommended lots:

  • UMass Boston Bayside Lot (200 Mt. Vernon Street)
  • Morrissey Satellite Lot (75 Morrissey Boulevard) Herb Chambers property next to the Boston Globe building
  • St. Christopher’s Church across from the Bayside Lot


Date & Time
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
7:00 - 9:00pm

Wellesley College
Acorns House (building not on map - head toward the lake, pass Clapp Library and Acorns House is to the right of Harambee House)
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Visitors may park at the Davis Parking Facility.


Date & Time
Thursday, October 27, 2016
6:30 - 8:30pm

Brandeis University
Mandel Center for the Humanities, Room G12
415 South Street
Waltham, MA 02453

After 5pm visitors may park anywhere. Tower Lot is closest to the Mandel Center.


Special thanks to Kimi Maeda for making the introductions that allowed us to get Hidden Legacy screened at Brandeis!

About the Creative Director

Shirley Kazuyo Muramoto-Wong was raised in a musical family whose roots lie in the Chikushi Kai School of kotoists in Japan.   Her mother is a respected head of the Chikushi Kai in the Bay Area, with close ties to her teachers in Japan. Shirley was taught within that tradition, learning and constantly performing the core of traditional pieces shared by all koto groups and also the repertoire particular to the Chikushi Kai.  Importantly, it is a group which is also open to contemporary music for the koto, so that her repertoire encompasses such works as the compositions of Tadao Sawai, Katsutoshi Nagasawa and Shinichi Yuize.  From that spirit of open-mindedness (within tradition), Shirley also pursued her interest in jazz and as it extends to the koto, and improvisation. 

In 1976, Shirley received her “Shihan” degree (instructor’s license) with “Yushusho” (highest) honors from the Chikushi School in Fukuoka, Japan, and her "Dai Shihan" Master’s degree from the same school in 2000 for her mastery of the koto.

A dedicated musician for over 50 years, Shirley strives to involve diverse genres of art and music in her performances.  She teaches private students, and has offered classes in koto music at public schools and at universities, most notably classes at UC Berkeley. Shirley has incorporated storytelling, poetry, hip-hop, gospel, bluegrass, jazz, European classical, and has arranged world songs from countries such as China, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Philippines and so on, for koto, as well as performing and arranging traditional and contemporary Japanese songs, and composing her own koto pieces.   She also is the leader of the world jazz fusion group, the Murasaki Ensemble.

“The koto is an extremely versatile instrument,” says Shirley.  “Though it seems limited and simple in its nature, it’s possible to extract a myriad of textures and sounds through various techniques and even percussive rhythms by incorporating the body of the instrument itself.  The koto is initially easy to play, but it really takes years of practice to be able to produce a good sound.”

Shirley’s koto influences include koto masters Katsuko Chikushi, Kimio Eto, Kazue Sawai, and June Kuramoto. Her jazz influences come from the members of the her jazz group, the Murasaki Ensemble, who are Vince Delgado on percussion, Jeff Massanari on guitar, Matt Eakle on flute, and Alex Baum on bass. 

Because of Shirley’s versatility on the koto, she has performed for many notable people and celebrities, such as: Senator Diane Feinstein, George Lucas/Lucas Films, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, Walter Shorenstein, Larry Ellison and Mikael Gorbachev.  She has also performed at many eclectic events from the Fillmore and Union Street Jazz Festivals to the AT&T Golf Tournament hosted by Clint Eastwood, Christina Aguilera, and the Sacramento, Marin, and Fremont symphony orchestras. Shirley has performed at numerous community events, and given of her time to many of them, including annual Cherry Blossom Festivals in San Francisco and Cupertino, many Obon festivals in Oakland, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose, just to name a few.  In 2012, Shirley was honored by the Hokka Nichibei Kai Bunka Japanese American Cultural Association of America by being inducted into their Hall of Fame.

Shirley has been most interested in researching Japanese traditional performance arts in the World War II concentration camps, after finding out that her mother learned to play the koto from koto teachers at Topaz and Tule Lake camps during WWII.  In 2012, she was awarded a National Parks Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites grant to turn her decades-long research into a documentary film.  The film, “Japanese Traditional Performance Arts in the World War II Internment Camps” completed in 2014, includes interviews and stories from 21 people who experienced Japanese performing arts in the camps, or were taught by teachers from the camps, archival photos as well as actual film footage of performances in the camps.  Hidden Legacy has been screened publicly at numerous community showings, at universities including UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, Tokyo Arts, Waseda, Musashino and Doshisha Universities, and aired on public TV across the United States since its premiere.

Takayo Fischer
Actress Takayo Fischer learned kabuki, buyō, and shamisen while she was interned at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas during WWII. She is best known for her roles as Mistress Chang in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and as Suzanne, the secretary to Brad Pitt's character, Billy, in the film Moneyball. Takayo is active with the renowned Asian American theater organization East West Players in Los Angeles and has acted on Broadway.

Kinko Hatakeda Tsubouchi (Takayo's mother)
making crepe paper tsumami as Takayo looks on.
Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas
Beauty Behind Barbed Wire: The Arts of the
Japanese in our War Relocation Camps

by Allen H. Eaton
Photo credit: Paul Faris
Related links

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Japan Festival Boston & Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival celebrating five years

Boston's two largest Japanese festivals are celebrating five years this year!

Japan Festival Boston & Cosplay Matsuri


Japan Festival Boston (formerly Haru Matsuri and Japan Festival in Boston) is hoping for this year's matsuri to be twice as large as last year's when 40,000 people attended! It looks like they are also expanding the cosplay portion of the event to be a matsuri within a matsuri. Their website has been updated with much more detailed information including team bios of the folks who are organizing the festival. Also check their Facebook page where there's a lot of information posted that isn't on the website.

Weaving at SAORI Worcester booth
2015 Japan Festival Boston
As usual there will be lots of arts organizations and businesses, many of whom have participated in past years, including Tewassa, GrayMist Studio & Shop, SAORI Worcester, Kaji Aso Studio, Chikako Mukai of Chikako Designs, Julie Kohaya of Heavenly Cranes Jewelry, amezaiku artist Candy Miyuki and Japanese calligraphy artist Kokin Manabe, who has been a guest artist at the Boston Children's Museum. There will be at least a couple of businesses selling kimono and yukata (Nomura Kimono Shop from Japan and Ohio Kimono).

The grill @ Oga's booth
2015 Japan Festival Boston
This year's food vendors include a mix of local, NYC-area, and Japan-based businesses. Note that lines are always insanely long so you should take snacks, especially if you have children. Last year some people ended up going to fast food places near the Boston Common because it was easier than standing in line. One of their GoFundMe perks this year is a $50 fast pass that you can use at some of the food booths, but it's unclear how that's going to work. Issues with food lines have unfortunately been a recurring problem for the festival. The food always looks oishii but I've rarely been able to eat at the food booths since I haven't had time to stand in line.

See photos from 2015 Japan Festival Boston.
See photos from 2014 Japan Festival in Boston. 

Date & Time
Sunday, April 24, 2016
11am - 6pm

Boston Common at the Beacon & Charles Street corner (near Frog Pond).
See festival map.

How you can help
The festival is not cheap to produce and JREX is crowdfunding with GoFundMe again. One of the rewards is a $75 yukata rental.

They are also seeking volunteers.

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival


The Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival (formerly Brookline Sakura Matsuri) is also celebrating five years. This very family-friendly matsuri with lots of activities for kids is produced by The Genki Spark (also in their fifth year) and Brookline High School's Japanese Program. The festival has grown every year and while much smaller than the Japan Festival Boston, has a great community vibe and lots of taiko from The Genki Spark and guest artists from around New England: Odaiko New England, Takahashi Minyo Kai, ShinDaiko, Mountain River Taiko, and Stuart Paton & Burlington Taiko. Last year over 1,300 festivalgoers came from all over New England and as far away as Canada.

Food vendors this year are Ittoku, who has been at the festival since they added food vendors in 2014, Itadaki, Japonaise Bakery, and Hana Japan (who host their own Natsu Matsuri every August). The food lines aren't as long as the Japan Festival Boston but if you have young children you should plan ahead. There are no restaurants within walking distance of the high school.

See videos from 2015 Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival.
See photos from 2014 Brookline Sakura Matsuri.

Date & Time
Saturday, April 30, 2016
noon - 4pm

Brookline High School Quad (Rain Location: Schluntz Gym)
115 Greenough Street, Brookline, MA, 02445

Suggested Donation: $5/students, $10-20 families
All proceeds support the BHS Japan Exchange Program ​Scholarship Fund and promotion of the arts

Disclosure: I would like to note that I am friends with some of the organizers of both of these festivals, however, I publicize them because they are the largest Japanese cultural events in the Boston area, not just because my friends organize them. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Temporarily Closed: Japonaise Bakery in Brookline

I was sad when I got to Japonaise Bakery yesterday and saw that the windows were papered over and they were closed. Fortunately, the closure is just temporary. I emailed them and the owner, Takeo Sakan, replied to say that he's installing some new equipment and hopes to reopen by the beginning or middle of next week. Phew! Hopefully that means their bread machine will be back up and running. It recently broke again. :( This is very sad because they're the only local source of freshly made Japanese breads in the Boston area. I'm very fond of their shoku pan (Japanese white bread).

As far as I'm aware, Japonaise Bakery is the only Japanese bakery in New England. I'm told here used to be a Japanese cake shop years ago in Belmont but they closed a long time ago. Another Japanese dessert business, Mochi Kitchen, was only open for a few years and closed last March when the owner relocated.

Japonaise Bakery was recently featured in a Harvard Magazine article about local bakeries.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Upcoming taiko performances

A couple of big taiko performances are happening in the next month!

The Genki Spark 5th Anniversary Making Women's History

The Genki Spark, the only all female, pan-Asian taiko troupe in the US, continues their year-long celebration of their 5th anniversary with two concerts later this month. Their events and performances are always high energy and positive and I love seeing them perform!

Being our 5th year we want to celebrate BIG! This year's 2 hour show is filled with some of our favorite pieces like 'Renshu', 'Kizuna', and our spoken word piece 'Who Am I? What Am I?' In addition, our brand new pieces: 'Hot Flash', 'Kachidoki', and 'Immigration Stories' feature and celebrate the diverse experiences of the women in our membership. New location, new pieces, same Genki love, joy, and passion!

This year we're thrilled to include long time friends and guest artists Tiffany Tamaribuchi (Saturday only) from Sacramento Taiko Dan (CA) and Karen Falkenstrom from Odaiko Sonora (AZ.)

As always, our show will begin with a reception with yummy treats, so bring your friends, bring your family, and come early to relax and celebrate with us.

Date & Time
Saturday, March 19, 2016
6:00pm Reception
7:00 - 9:00pm Show

Sunday, March 20, 2016
11:00am Reception
12:00 - 2:00pm Show

Hibernian Hall
184 Dudley St., Roxbury MA 02119

See the Hibernian Hall website for details.

In advance: $20 general admission, $10 student w/ ID, $8 children under 10
At the door: $25 general admission, $15 student w/ ID, $10 children under 10
Group discounts available.
Purchase tickets here.

Tamagawa Taiko & Dance

Tamagawa Taiko & Dance, a performance group from Tamagawa University in Tokyo led by professor and kabuki master Isaburo Hanayagi, is returning to the Boston area for a performance at Wellesley College. Their performance is co-presented by The Japan Society of Boston.

Join us to experience an exciting evening of high energy Taiko drumming and Japanese folkloric dancing on the beautiful campus at Wellesley College. 
The Tamagawa Taiko & Dance group has been touring the world since 1961. With a growing fan base, they have been invited to the Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival every year since 2003.

This group of over 40 highly talented performers are returning to the U.S. this year to share their music & dance in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and Boston! Performances in New York have been sold out every year since 2010.

Date & Time
Saturday, April 9, 2016
5:00pm Doors open
6:00 - 7:30pm Performance

Wellesley College, Alumnae Hall
106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02481


$20 general admission, $10 students (note: ticket prices are $22.09 & $11.54 with surcharge)
Purchase tickets here.

Update: A friend just pointed out that I forgot to include the March 13th performance of Yamato: The Drummers of Japan at Berklee College of Music.

See also:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Robert J. Maeda, 1932-2016

6/16/16 Update: Robert Maeda's memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2016 at 3pm at Brandeis University in Rapaporte Treasure Hall in the Goldfarb Library, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453. The service is open to the public.

I learned a couple of weeks ago that one of our local Japanese American community leaders passed away last month. Robert J. Maeda was Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at Brandeis University where he taught for 33 years before retiring in 2000. He was the first Asian American hired by Brandeis to teach Asian Art. The Brandeis Fine Arts Department described him as "an inspiring teacher for generations of Brandeis students, a cherished colleague and friend, and a warm, re-assuring presence to all who knew him." Robert was also former president and long-time member of the board of the New England Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.

I never met Robert, but I did meet his daughter, theatre artist Kimi Maeda, when she performed a very moving play about her father's life and his struggle with dementia at Brandeis last year. Kimi is about to start a Northeastern tour of that show and will be performing Bend in Boston from Friday, February 19th to Saturday, February 27th. I encourage people to attend and support Kimi in her journey to keep her father's memory alive. The following essay was published in the New England JACL's mid-February newsletter.

A special message from Kimi Maeda

Robert Maeda’s daughter, Kimi, is undertaking a Northeastern tour of Bend, her one-woman stage production created to honor her father’s experiences during World War II. She sent us this message.

For the past few years my father has been slowly fading away. The illness that began as a wrong turn on a familiar drive home eventually reduced him to the shallow breathing that kept us on edge by his bedside. When he died, he left an emptiness in his wake.

People ask me if it is difficult to be doing a performance about his life so soon after his death. In some ways I think it is actually comforting. I created this show during his illness as a way to cope with everything that I was feeling. Rehearsing in preparation for the tour has been similarly therapeutic. I come into the studio every day and draw my dad over and over again while I listen to recordings of his voice. I am memorizing the shape of his face and the wrinkles on his brow. He feels very present, and that is filling the emptiness.

Bend is about forgetting, but it is also about memory. The New England Chapter of the JACL and I originally intended this Day of Remembrance Tour to commemorate Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 which led to the incarceration of Japanese American families on the West Coast after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Now I think it is actually a fitting memorial for my father, as well.

A friend of mine whose father died recently wrote that “After the initial flurry of burial, obituary, and funeral arrangements passed, I began to think more about my dad from when he was healthy. The years of sickness have faded more, and the memories of my dad through all the years of my childhood and beyond have become stronger. It was like when my dad passed, the years of illness did too, and I was left with the times of what really mattered.” In Bend I express my fear that my father’s memory will be forgotten. However, this tour is not only allowing me to keep his memory present, it is also giving me the opportunity to share his story with so many people.

The following tribute to Robert was included in the New England JACL's mid-February newsletter.
New England JACL has lost a wonderful friend, Robert Maeda. Robert passed away on Saturday, January 30, at the age of 83. He served as our JACL president in the 1980s and was active in the Japanese American community’s successful efforts to fight for reparations for families incarcerated in American’s concentration camps during World War II. He was a long-time member of our chapter’s Board and was always available to us as a speaker on any subject we required, especially on the arts. Robert was a professor of Asian Art at Brandeis University until his retirement in 2000. During his career he was a prolific scholar and his research centered around paintings from the Sung Dynasty as well as the Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi. Robert is survived by his wife Nobuko of Concord, MA; his daughter Kimi of Columbia, SC; and his sister Edith of Skokie, IL. A memorial service will be held later this year. For the Concord Journal obituary, go to: [Legacy.com].

Robert's official obituary, which was published in The Concord Journal, can also be seen at Legacy.com.
Robert J. Maeda passed away on Saturday, January 30 at age 83. Robert was the Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Professor of Fine Arts, Emeritus at Brandeis University and was a longtime resident of Concord, MA. He is survived by his wife Nobuko, of Concord, MA, his daughter Kimi, of Columbia, SC and his sister, Edith, of Skokie, IL.

Robert was born in El Centro, CA in 1932, the seventh child of Junichi and Tetsue Maeda. In 1942, the family was sent to the Colorado River Relocation Center in Poston, AZ as one of the thousands of Japanese American families forced into incarceration during WWII. From Poston, Robert moved with his family to Chicago, IL, where he eventually graduated from Lane Tech High School in 1950. He received a B.A. in Western Art History from the University of Illinois in 1953. Beginning in 1954, he served a total of eight years in the US Army and Army Reserves achieving the rank of Specialist, 4th Class. In 1960, he received an M.A. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan and in 1969 completed his PhD at Harvard University in Asian Art History.

In 1967, Robert was hired as the first Asian American professor to teach Asian Art at Brandeis University. He spent his entire teaching career at Brandeis, retiring in 2000. Throughout his career, Robert was the recipient of many fellowships and awards, including a Fulbright fellowship in 1964 that took him to Japan. In 1973 Robert was a member of the Chinese Archaeology Delegation, the first group of art historians from the US to visit China. A prolific scholar, Robert’s research centered around paintings from the Sung Dynasty as well as the Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi. Among his best known works are Two Sung Texts on Chinese Painting and the Landscape Styles of the 11th and 12th Centuries, published by Garland Press and “The ‘Water” Theme in Chinese Painting,” published in Artibus Asiae, in 1971.

In addition to his scholarly work, Robert was a leader in the Japanese American community in Massachusetts, serving on the board of the New England Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund. As president of the board of the regional JACL in the 1980s, Robert was active in the organization’s successful fight for reparations for families incarcerated in relocation centers during WWII.

Following his retirement, Robert continued to serve his community by teaching art history classes at Concord Village University and volunteering at Emerson Hospital in Concord.

A memorial service for Robert will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Robert’s honor to the Japanese American Citizens League, New England Chapter, P.O. Box 592, Lincoln, MA 01773 or Brandeis University, www.brandeis.edu. 

The above are reprinted with permission of the New England JACL and Kimi Maeda. Messages for the family can be left at the Dee Funeral Home website.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Film: Paper Lanterns

Paper Lanterns

Directed by Barry Frechette
2016 | Documentary

In 2015, as America and Japan celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, few remembered – if they ever knew – that twelve American prisoners-of-war were on the ground in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and were killed by the atomic bomb that destroyed the city that day.
One of the Americans was Normand Brissette, a teen-age Navy flier from Lowell, Massachusetts; another was Sgt. Ralph Neal from Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

This powerful new film tells their story.

And the story of Shigeaki Mori, himself a Hiroshima survivor, who never knew the American bomb victims but who has devoted his life to finding their families and dedicating monuments to their memory.
Sponsored by The Japan Society of Boston, Connolly Partners, and Element Productions.

Date & Time
Thursday, February 25, 2016

Revere Hotel Theatre 1
200 Stuart Street Boston, MA 02116

Free. Seating is limited. Registration required.

Related links

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exhibit: Twisted Again: The New Kumihimo @ Wedeman Gallery in The Yamawaki Art Center

Obi braided by Makiko Tada, Japan
Original obi tie method by Matsuko Levin, US
Kimono on loan from the collection of Matsuko Levin

After attending the MFA panel on Kimono Wednesdays on Sunday I dashed off to Newton to the opening reception of Twisted Again: The New Kumihimo, an exhibit of kumihimo art. Kumihimo is a Japanese textile art that traditionally involves the braiding of silk strands to make a cord. The exhibit showcases the work of six female artists from Japan, the US, the UK, and Australia who work with a variety of materials from the more traditional silk to modern materials such as monofilament. The pieces were really diverse and beautiful. It's a little out of the way for those who live in the city, but well worth the trip.

Twisted Again: The New Kumihimo

Follow the tracks of the ancient caravans and nomadic peoples throughout the world and you will find braids – fiber interlaced on the bias to make strong bands, belts, and cords needed to make everyday life possible. Using natural fibers of different shades, wonderful patterns emerged.  When traders came to a natural stopping point, like the Island of Japan, various stands to make the braids were invented and perfected making possible more and more complex braids using dozens of bobbins of many colors in multiple layers. The Japanese word for making these complex braids is “Kumihimo”.
While there is no census, and there are many braiders and ways to braid, maybe only 100 or so people in the world work at the advanced levels of Kumihimo.  In the making, there is a great sense of connection with the past and pleasure in rediscovering and perfecting the traditional patterns and working with the silk made in Japan only for work in Kumihimo.   But for some, Kumihimo is also a path for innovation and personal expression.  It becomes not just a technique but an art medium.  We celebrate this group in this show.
Our show brings together the work of six artists using the Kumihimo braiding techniques, all of whom are innovators with a unique voice. This first in the US show combines work from four continents: Australia, Japan, the UK, and the US.  When you come to the show, you will have a unique opportunity to listen in on the conversation between individuals and cultures as seen through these works.  Some follow an engineering approach – inventing new braid structures to create never-before-seen patterns and effects. Others follow a more evolutionary approach, experimenting with the process to see what will emerge as a piece grows.  While the traditional silk is still much in evidence, all of the artists experiment with different materials and fibers including paper, monofilament, and wire. Some want some functionality in their work and so have gone in the direction of fashion applications, true wearable art.  Others have left functionality and focus on art expression. But no matter the direction of exploration, these works all exude the joy and delight of discovery.

Date & Time
Open through Saturday, February 20, 2016
(Note: Some sites and materials mistakenly show the exhibit as being open through the 22nd.)
Informal conversation with curator and artist, Lyn Christiansen, on Friday, February 12, 2016, 4:00 - 6:00pm.
Please see the exhibit website for hours.

Wedeman Gallery at the Yamawaki Art and Cultural Center at Lasell College
47 Myrtle Ave., Newton, MA 02466


Flowers, Flowers, Flowers
Hiroko Ojima, Japan

Pieces by Jacqui Carey, UK

Wheel of Fortune
Lyn Christiansen, US

A nice feature of the exhibit is that there's a "Touch Table" with examples of most of the work in the exhibit. As a fiber artist I always want to touch textile arts, but it's a rarity to be able to do so. This was a great idea.

This was a completely unexpected find. Apparently Lasell College has owned this Japanese temple bell from Myokoku (outside Kyoto) since the 1800s when it was bought by Milton S. Vail, a friend of Lasell's principal, Dr. Charles C. Bragdon. This is not the only Japanese temple bell in the area. There is another Edo era Japanese temple bell in the Back Bay Fens. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy offers docent-led tours to see it.

Japanese Temple Bell
early 1800s, Edo period

Additional photos here.

Exhibit: Made in the Americas @ MFA

I had intended to write something much longer about this exhibit but I've run out of time. This is the last week of the MFA's Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia. Made in the Americas showcases the work of artists from North and South America, including indigenous artists, who were influenced by goods coming in from Asia. Some of the objects in this exhibit come from the MFA's own collection and some were loaned from The Hispanic Society of America in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In some cases they copied motifs (shown with a Peruvian tapestry that included Chinese mythological creatures and was clearly copied from imported Chinese textiles) and in others, came up with new techniques to replicate the look of Asian art (as with japanning). These days many of these artists would likely be accused cultural appropriation. It was incredible to see the way Asian art had inspired them to create art that was similar but uniquely their own. If you have time to see it before it closes on Monday, February 15th, I highly recommend it.

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia

Within decades of the “discovery” of America by Spain in 1492, goods from Asia traversed the globe via Spanish and Portuguese traders. The Americas became a major destination for Asian objects and Mexico became an international hub of commerce. The impact of the importation of these goods was immediate and widespread, both among the European colonizers and the indigenous populations, who readily adapted their own artistic traditions to the new fashion for Asian imports.

“Made in the Americas” is the first large-scale, Pan-American exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas. Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonies, this exhibition explores the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of materials—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting. Exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Quebec City, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, include blue-and-white talavera ceramics copied from imported Chinese porcelains, elaborately decorated furniture inspired by imported Japanese lacquer, and luxuriously woven textiles made to replicate fine silks and cottons imported from China and India.

The timing of the exhibition marks the 450th anniversary of the beginning of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico, which was inaugurated in 1565 and ended in 1815, two and a half centuries later.

Date & Time
Through Monday, February 15, 2016
See MFA's website for hours.

Related talk: The Role of Religious Orders and the Introduction of Asian Arts to the Americas, Saturday, February 13, 2:00 - 3:00pm

Museum of Fine Arts, Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)
465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115

The Southern Barbarians Come to Trader
Kanō Naizen

A Peruvian Cover is on display alongside a Chinese embroidered tapestry (on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that was made for export. Such tapestries have never been found in South America but were known to have been exported to Europe and the Americas. The MFA notes in the label that the Peruvian artisans "closely cop[ied] their format, style, and iconography." You can see how similar the motifs are, in particular, the mythical xieshi. The Chinese embroidery is believed to be from the Guangzhou region and was probably exported to Japan in the 17th century. It has been heavily re-embroidered, most likely in Japan in the 19th century. (Additional information provided by Pamela Parmal, Curator of Textiles and Fashion Arts.)

Left: Peruvian Cover, late 17th to early 18th century
Right: Panel with flowers, birds, and animals, 17th century

Description of Chinese motifs that were copied in Peruvian Cover

High chest of drawers, about 1730-40
Japanned butternut, maple, white pine

They also showed that the influence was not one-way, with this interesting panel by an unknown Japanese artist.

European King and Members of His Court
泰西王候図屏風 (Taisei ôkô zu byôbu)
Momoyama period 1601-14

  • 2/11/15: Added information about Panel with flowers, birds, and animals.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2016 3.11 Events in Boston

If you're aware of a 3.11 event that I haven't listed, please post a comment with a link to the event or details if the info isn't on a public webpage. This page will be updated if I find out about more events.

This year is the fifth anniversary of the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear disaster that happened in Japan on March 11, 2011. Although the world's attention has moved on to other disasters, some groups in Boston continue to be involved in supporting Japan through this crisis and educating the public. If you're interested in learning more, please consider attending one of these events. Events are listed in chronological order.

3.11 Japan Memorial Charity 2016: Remembrance of Earthquake and Tsunami

MIT Japanese Tea Ceremony will hold their annual remembrance and fundraising event at the Sanzashi-An Tea House on Showa Boston's campus. Each session is about 75 minutes, includes Japanese Tea Ceremony performance with Japanese confectionery and green tea. Children are welcome to join and babysitter available upon request.

This charity event is to commemorate the North-Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster that happened on March 11, 2011. We hope to support the survivors to improve their living conditions, rebuild the area, and for each of us to remember the tragedy.

The major part of the areas where struck by the earthquake and Tsunami started to recover and rebuild little by little, but is still suffering from the long-existing damages. Even with all the donations and funds collected by countless organizations, groups, and individuals from all over the world, they are still experiencing difficulty making improvements from the destructions. With a great help of our supporters, we hope to become a part to help Japan's retrieval of the losses from the affects.

We believe that we learned something important from this incident. Please do not forget what happened on March 11, 2011, and how the struggles have been made. Take this opportunity for memorials and to support.

"Peacefulness through a Bowl of Tea" is phrased by Sen Genshitsu, the Great Grandmaster of Urasenke Japanese Tea Ceremony. He has always been flying around the world to spread the Japanese Tea Ceremony along with peacefulness; to share one bowl of tea together with all. We, as a part of his family clan, attempt to succeed his expression in the United States as well.
As a extent of our effort, we try our best to support Japan to come together to successfully overcome the tragedy.

Date & Time
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Registration form must be received by Friday, February 19, 2016

Showa Boston, Sanzashi-An Tea House 420 Pond St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Free admission, with suggested donation from $20
*Donations without participation in Ceremony or at the door is also appreciated

All Proceeds from this event with be donated to Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, Japan Society of New York to support reconstruction of the disaster.

3/11: Five Years After the Triple Disaster in Northeastern Japan

Panelists Richard Samuels (MIT, Political Science), Tatsujiro Suzuki (Former Vice Chairman of Japan Atomic Energy Commission of the Cabinet Office), Kenneth Oye (MIT, Political Science & ESD), Miho Mazereeuw (MIT, Architecture) and Akinobu Murakami (University of Tsukuba) will speak on the current state of Northeastern Japan five years after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. This panel is part of the Starr Forum.

Sponsored by the MIT-Japan Program and the MIT Center for International Studies.

Update 3/10/16: Video will be available on the CIS website in 5 days.

Date & Time
Thursday, March 10, 2016
5:30 - 7:30pm

Stata Center, 32 Vassar St., 32-123, Cambridge, MA 02139

3/11 Five Years After: Recovery and Resilience

Five years have passed since the devastating events of March 11, 2011, when the triple disaster of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima hit northeastern Japan. Nearly 16,000 lives were lost, and around 2,500 remain missing. Indeed, beyond the physical damage, emotional grief, and the immediate humanitarian response to these, the Great East Japan Earthquake has had an immeasurable impact on the country’s security relations, business and economic environment, energy policy, and domestic politics and institutions.

How has this disaster changed Japan's political and economic spheres? What policy-making lessons has Japan learned, and what lessons can other countries learn from it? Within five years, has Japan returned to how it was before 3/11, or has it even improved?

The Japan Club at The Fletcher School invites you to an interdisciplinary panel to assess reconstruction, recovery, and resilience since 3/11. The panel will examine closely developments in the U.S.-Japan security alliance, sustainable economic growth, challenges in energy policy, and reactions of domestic politics and institutions.

Opening Remarks: Fumi Tataki (MIB 2016)
Moderator: Prof. Shinsuke Tanaka (Fletcher School)
Panelists: Prof. Keiko Hirao (Harvard University/Sophia University) and Yoshikazu Watanabe (Eastern Army Commanding General, Ret., Japan Ground Self Defense Force)

Date & Time
Friday, March 11, 2016
12:30 - 2:00pm

The Fletcher School at Tufts University
160 Packard Ave., Cabot 206, Medford, MA 02155

Panel: Five Years Later: Research and Fieldwork Borne from the March 2011 Disasters in Japan

Coastal Fisheries and Industrial Development in Fukushima
Satsuki Takahashi, Toyota Visiting Professor, Center for Japanese Studies, Univ. of Michigan and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, George Mason University

Network Crisis Archiving: From First Response to Remembrance
Kyle Parry, Postdoctoral Fellow, Visual and Cultural Studies and Digital Humanities Center, University of Rochester

Community Reconstruction in the Tohoku Region
Andrew Littlejohn, PhD candidate in Social Anthropology, Harvard University

Moderator: Theodore C. Bestor, Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology and Director, Reischauer Institute, Harvard University

This panel is part of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Forum and the Weatherhead Center Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Special Series on Post-Disaster Japan.

Date & Time
Friday, March 11, 2016
4:00 - 5:45pm

Harvard University
Belfer Case Study Room S020, Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, CGIS South Bldg., 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Harvard has been doing a great job of hosting talks year-round about the problems Japan is still facing after 3.11 as part of their Reischauer Institute Japan Forum and Weatherhead Center Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Special Series on Post-Disaster Japan. There are other talks scheduled from February to April. Talks are open to the public, though inconveniently scheduled for people with 9-5 jobs. Some past talks are archived on the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Vimeo page.

"Natural and Unnatural Disasters: 3/11, Asbestos, and the Unmaking of Japan's Modern World," the talk given by Brett L. Walker on January 29th will be given again at MIT on Friday, February 19th. The talk was very interesting and Professor Walker also talked a little about his research on 9/11 as an environmental disaster.

Trees Make Happiness

This will be the fourth year that Boston Children's Museum welcomes students from Tohoku University of Art and Design to mark the anniversary of 3.11. For the second year the students will have an art and friendship exhibit. The public is invited to attend the exhibit opening. Children can meet the artists from Japan and engage in a hands-on activity. See photos from last year (here and here) when they had fun making monsters. The exhibit is brought to the museum by artist Minatsu Ariga and her “ART THINKING” project team at the university.

Enjoy the special opening event of Art Exhibition in the Japanese House Gallery: Art as Ecology – Building the future by exploring the trees that make happiness grow!

Meet the artists from Tohoku, Japan.
This special art show and programs are brought to you by the members of the “ART THINKING” project team at Tohoku University of Art & Design in Japan. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami in their hometown in March 2011, they decided to use the special power of ART to make the world a better place and connect with many friends like you. Please stop by and say hi to the student artists from Tohoku, Japan and enjoy hands-on activities!

Date & Time
Friday, March 11, 2016
6:00 - 8:00pm

Saturday, March 12, 2016
12:00 - 3:00pm

Boston Children's Museum, The Common and Japanese House Gallery 
308 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210

Please see the museum's website for admission details.
Please note that "Adults unaccompanied by children must leave proper photo identification at the Admissions Desk. Examples: State Driver’s License or Passport."

3.11 Memorial Event

Tewassa, a Cambridge-based volunteer group that produces "message quilts" for schools and organizations in the Tōhoku region, will be holding a memorial event.

"It has passed almost five years since Great East Japan Earthquake. However, it is still important to “never forget” about the incident. On the day, we will share information from Japan, introduce our activities, and an activity for those attending. We will also prepare free coffee and snacks, feel free to come and join us!"

Date & Time
Saturday, March 12, 2016
2:00 - 6:00pm

GrayMist Studio & Shop
364 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Public Transit & Parking
GrayMist is accessible by the 72 and 75 buses from Harvard Square. There is free on-street parking along Huron Ave. and neighboring streets.

Cranes on the Square 2015
Photo courtesy of Timothy Nagaoka

Cranes on the Square

This year is the fourth annual Cranes on the Square event organized by local Japanese language teacher Timothy Nagaoka with support from the Boston Parks & Recreation Department, the Japanese Consulate, and the Japan Society of Boston. Volunteers will teach people how to fold origami cranes which will form a temporary public art piece in Copley Square then be collected and delivered to people in the disaster area.

Date & Time
Sunday, March 13, 2016
11:30am - 4:30pm

Copley Square, Boston, MA 02116

5th Anniversary Commemoration for Tohoku: ~ Tohoku, 5 Years After ~ :: 東北は今 :: 

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
6:00 - 8:30pm

6:00 - 6:15pm: Registration & Opening Remarks
6:15 - 6:30pm: Keynote Speech by Mayor of Ofunato Kimiaki Toda
6:30 - 8:00pm: Speakers Presentations & Performance by TOMODACHI Suntory scholars at Berklee College of Music

  •  Ken Buesseler, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University
8:00 - 8:30pm: Reception

Christian Science Center, Reflection Hall
235 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115

Free - tickets must be reserved

The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta at Symphony Hall ~ American Debut

The Japan Society of Boston is soliciting donors to help fund the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta's Boston trip. Please see their website for details. You can also donate to the trip on Kickstarter. Rewards start at £10 ($14).

This performance is a collaboration between The Japan Society of Boston, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Keys of Change, the U.S.-Japan Council's TOMODACHI Fund for Exchanges, the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, and the Consulate General of Japan in Boston.

Born out of the natural disasters that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, the FYS has quickly developed into one of Japan's finest youth orchestras. Led by conductor Tetsuji Honna, and featuring soloists Panos Karan (piano) and Zach Tarpagos (flute), the FYS will perform a program including concertos by Mozart and Rachmaninoff, as well as orchestral works by Glinka and Barber. This concert is part of a unique cultural exchange program, supported by the governments of Japan and the United States, and by the Tomodachi Program's Fund for Exchanges of the U.S.-Japan Council, in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the disasters of 2011.
The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta was created by students from four Fukushima high schools in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes/tsunami/nuclear disasters of 2011. Determined to aid in the recovery of their devastated communities, the students found solace in music. They asked pianist Panos Karan and flute virtuoso Zach Tarpagos, two professional musicians visiting from Greece, to help them form an orchestra. Since 2011, Karan and Tarpagos have returned nearly twenty times to Fukushima to coach the orchestra and have invited other international musicians from Europe, the U.S., and India to join in working with the FYS. The orchestra has contributed significantly to the Japanese recovery, bringing confidence and hope to the devastated area, and it has been widely recognized as a leading symbol of communal cohesion during the period of rebuilding. In April 2014, the British charity Keys of Change invited the FYS to London for a highly successful performance at Queen Elizabeth Hall. In August 2015, the FYS made its Tokyo debut in a major concert at Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, in the presence of the Empress of Japan.

Date & Time
Sunday, April 3, 2016

Boston Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115

Tickets: $10, $25, $40 (+ fees) available on the BSO website