Every day, somebody, somewhere on the planet, is acting as a bridge between Japan and the world. We bring you stories direct from artists and researchers working on location around the globe, who share their various experiences, ranging from sketches of street life, to profiles of people encountered on the job.
As part of the Japan Foundation's Program for Presentation of Japanese Culture and Arts (Program for Dispatching Artists and Cultural Specialists), designers Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi of the fashion brand "matohu" participated in the Brasilia Capital Fashion Week in August 2012, and gave lectures in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
In November 2012 the Japan Foundation organized an arts and cultural exchange program aiming to strengthen friendship between Japan and Timor-Leste through music. The music performance and workshop event for the young people of Timor-Leste, conducted by singer Sizzle Ohtaka, violinist Yuriko Mukoujima, and myself, was held as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. We also wanted to make it an opportunity to express Japan's appreciation towards the Timorese for their recovery support in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
It had been a long time since I visited Uzbekistan last time. That was five years ago when I was with a party of 50 members of the Japan-Uzbekistan Association, visiting the country to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the association. My very first visit to the country was in 1996 as a freelance journalist and now it was my fifth trip. This time, I had been asked by the Japan Foundation to give talks in Uzbekistan on the current social situation in Japan and on the attitudes and lifestyles of Japan's younger generation. It was a tight schedule--a five-day trip of which one night would be spent in flight.
In October 2012, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, I participated in an event titled "Rap in Tondo 2 x Shinjuku Art Project." This was a workshop to teach children with foreign origins living in Japan how to compose hip-hop music and write lyrics.
The Japan Foundation organized a tour of Ikebana lecture demonstration and workshop in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Kenya, given by Misei Ishikawa, an instructor of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. Using the unrivalled supply of materials available in Africa, one of the world's largest flower-producing regions, Ishikawa introduced the attractions of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement that reflects Japanese aesthetics. She gave us an account of her experience, along with photos of the works created.
The Japan Foundation organized a hogaku (traditional Japanese music) tour in Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran, to feature the hogaku performers including Tsugaru shamisen player Chikudo Takahashi and shakuhachi player Takahisa Kawasaki. While the three nations are all Islamic countries, they are in fact very different in terms of their landscape, culture, townscape, and people. Returning to Japan, Chikudo Takahashi and Takahisa Kawasaki talked about their tour, their performances and experiences in each country.
The Japan Foundation hosted a series of lectures and workshops in Panama, Cuba, and Costa Rica with product designer Jin Kuramoto and architect Jo Nagasaka to introduce Japan's design and architecture and Japanese view and approach to the aesthetics of workmanship in their fields.
Japanese Study Seminar - Taisho/Prewar (Showa) was held by Centre Européen d'Études Japonaises d'Alsace (CEEJA) and the Japan Foundation on September 8 and 9, 2012, at the CEEJA in Kientzheim, in the Alsace region of France.
To kick off the Year of Friendship and Peace between Japan and Timor-Leste, the Japan Foundation organized a 10-day visit program dispatching Japanese toy specialists to Timor-Leste. The program, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Timor-Leste, took place in February and introduced traditional Japanese plays with toys mainly for local children.
As part of the Japan Foundation's cultural exchange program, Professor Yoshitaka Okada of the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo and I, as a core member of the Okada lab, conducted a series of lectures and workshops on next-generation solar energy technology in Auckland and Wellington (New Zealand), Nuku'alofa (Tonga), and Suva (Fiji), from late July to early August, 2012.