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: [].

Robert's official obituary, which was published in The Concord Journal, can also be seen at
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, 

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tour: Bend by Kimi Maeda


Update 2/14/16:  I'm sad to report that Robert Maeda, the subject of Kimi's play, Bend, passed away in January. Kimi's tour will continue as planned as a memorial to her father's life.

Japanese American theatre artist, Kimi Maeda, is bringing her one-woman show, Bend, back to New England this month. She'll have five shows in the Boston area (details below) as well as three more at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont, Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (please see her website for details on these shows). The tour was made possible by the New England chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League through a grant from the national JACL Legacy Fund Grants Program. Kimi's tour is part of the New England JACL's commemoration of the Day of Remembrance.

I saw Kimi perform at Brandeis University last April. The show was deeply moving and the most innovative theater I had seen in a long time. It seemed like the sort of show you need to see more than once so I'm looking forward to seeing it again.


Using sand, shadow, and projection, Bend tells the story of two men interned in a Japanese American relocation camp during World War II. The first is Robert Maeda (puppeteer Kimi Maeda's father) an Asian Art historian who was only a young boy when he went into the camp. The second man would become the subject of Dr. Maeda's research: Isamu Noguchi, a half-Japanese-half-American sculptor whose work appears in a wide range of spaces and contexts from the giant Red Cube in New York’s Financial District to countless lamps, tables, and stone sculptures in private homes.

Late in life, Dr. Maeda began working on a book about Noguchi, but as dementia gradually overtook his life, his work was never finished. His daughter, Kimi, was inspired to take on the task he started decades ago, exploring the life of Noguchi in relation to his (and her) own personal history. Using sand as her canvas, Kimi skillfully transforms image after image, combining live feed projection of these drawings with archival footage from WWII. The result is a sublime evening of visual theater that captures the transient, elusive quality of time and memory.

Date & Time
Friday, February 19, 2016

UMass Boston
Snowden Auditorium, Wheatley Hall, 1st Floor, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125


Date & Time
Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tufts University
Balch Arena Theater, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford, MA 02155


Date & Time
Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tang Center, Bldg E51 Room 095, 2 Amherst St., Cambridge, MA 02142


Date & Time
Friday, February 26, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016
Followed by a reception hosted by the New England JACL.

Puppet Showplace Theater
32 Station St., Brookline, MA, 02445

$15 - purchase tickets here