Feature Story – Somewhere in the world today

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.


The Japan Foundation Awards Commemorative Lecture
Japanese Studies as a Dialogue: A View from a Small Country

Professor Emeritus Andrej Bekeš of the University of Ljubljana has long been a driving force for Japanese studies and Japanese language education in Slovenia and Europe and has contributed to the promotion of international mutual understanding. It was in recognition of his accomplishments over the course of many years that he was chosen as one of the recipients of the Japan Foundation Awards 2017. On October 20, 2017, Prof. Bekeš delivered a Japan Foundation Awards 2017 Commemorative Lecture at Sophia University, which was titled Japanese Studies as a Dialogue: A View from a Small Country. We have received this contribution from Prof. Bekeš that summarizes the topics raised in his lecture, which considered from a Slovenian perspective the potential for "dialogue" in today's globalized world where information flows can be distinctly one-sided.


The Japan Foundation Awards 2016 Commemorative Lecture
Susan J. Pharr, "The Enigma of U.S.-Japan Relations: A 50-Year Perspective"

The global community of "Japan specialists" is truly diverse, spanning scholars in the humanities and social sciences, practitioners in governments and think tanks, business and legal professionals, and the like. Members--both established and new--regularly trade stories about current events or share tips about professional opportunities at major academic conferences, corporate events, and embassy receptions. For the last four decades, Susan J. Pharr, Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics and Director of the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University, and the Japan Foundation have been the cornerstones of this community. As such, it is only fitting that Professor Pharr was selected to receive the 2016 Japan Foundation Award, and it is my honor to discuss her commemorative lecture, "The Enigma of U.S.-Japan Relations: A 50-Year Perspective," delivered on October 21st, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.


People who think about tradition are not alone
"The Power of Tradition, the Form of Artistry"
Interview with Yuichi Kinoshita (Leader of the Kinoshita Kabuki Company)

"The Power of Tradition, the Form of Artistry" is a program that seeks to rediscover the power of the traditions of Southeast Asia and Japan and explore the form of modern artistry. Launched in FY2016, the project has gotten off to a rousing start, bringing together an array of inspired minds, including scholars of Indonesia's traditional performing arts, theater producers, artists and magazine editors. Among them is someone who has been a whirlwind of activity in recent years―Yuichi Kinoshita, leader of the Kinoshita Kabuki Company. Kinoshita is a scholar of Japan's traditional performing arts and a vocal proponent of the possibilities for contemporizing Kabuki performance, while retaining a solid footing in the historical context. Throughout FY2016 he has sought to examine the "power of tradition and form of artistry" using diverse approaches, including fieldwork in Indonesia that was prefaced by several study group sessions, and a public talk with writer/poet Natsuki Ikezawa. In this interview Kinoshita reflects on his experiences over the past year and the various insights engendered, and speaks about the outlook for the coming year.


Roundtable: My "NIHONGO Partners" Story
- Shaping Careers through Experiences in Asia -
Moderator: Toko Shirakawa

"NIHONGO Partners" is a program through which Japanese citizens are stationed in various parts of Asia for six to ten months as educational assistants for Japanese language teachers at local middle schools and high schools, and to introduce and share the wonderful aspects of Japanese culture with the community. The program has spread to a total of twelve countries and regions since it began in 2014, and has helped numerous Japanese participants to become acquainted with people and culture abroad.

2017.8. 1

Serving as a Bridge between People in Japan and the United States through Grass-Roots Exchange

Today, numerous exchange programs are available in Japan aimed at promoting mutual understanding with people throughout the world. One of these programs is the Japan Outreach Initiative run jointly by the Japan Foundation together with Laurasian Institution in the US, a program for the deployment of grass-roots Japan-US exchange coordinators. This program, also called JOI (joy), the abbreviation of the program name, deploys Japanese coordinators from Japan to the US for two weeks to promote deeper interest and understanding of Japan through exchange activities rooted in the local community. The program is entering its 15th year in 2017, having started in 2002. In October 2016, a symposium was held at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Urawa in commemoration of the 15th year, entitled "The Value of International Exchange in the Community". In this issue we will introduce the activities of the JOI coordinators and some of the statements by the panelists at the symposium.


Why I Study Japanese -Kevin Reynolds-

The Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services organize the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which measures and certifies the Japanese-language proficiency of those whose native language is not Japanese. Canadian figure skater Kevin Reynolds passed the N2 level of JLPT in December 2016. When he came to Japan in April 2017, he talked about how he encountered Japan and how he started studying its language.


The Power of International Cultural Activities that Connect Regions and the World
- On the occasion of the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship being awarded to 100 organizations

The Japan Foundation established the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship* in 1985, and has been supporting organizations which, via their international cultural exchange activities nationwide, deepen connections and cooperation between people in Japan and overseas, thereby fostering the mutual exchange of knowledge, ideas and information, and encouraging people to think together. Last year, in fiscal 2016, the Prizes for Global Citizenship reached the milestone of being awarded to the 100th organization.
With that in mind, we asked Professor Yasushi Watanabe at Keio University SFC, who has a detailed knowledge of organizations that contribute to regional development by undertaking international cultural activities in regions throughout Japan, to contribute a piece about the significance of international cultural exchange in the regions, the outlook for that exchange and the role performed by the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship.

2017.6. 2

Imagining Japan's Tomorrow

For more than 40 years the Japan Foundation has supported the publication of Japan-related books around the world through its Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan. Through this support program, books in over 50 languages have been published in a wide array of genres, including classic and contemporary literature, history, sociology, politics, economics, and cultural theory.


Forty Years of Introducing Japanese Manga Culture to North America

The Japan International MANGA Award, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, recognizes manga artists who have made a contribution to the spread of manga culture overseas. The Japan Foundation hosted a lecture by Frederik L. Schodt , one of the leading translators of Japanese manga, who was invited to the 10th awards ceremony for the MANGA Award held on February 6, 2017. Schodt has worked as a manga translator for over 40 years, ever since he developed a fascination for Japanese manga, and he also interacted directly with legendary artist Osamu Tezuka. In 2016, the English edition of The Osamu Tezuka Story, translated by Schodt himself, was published by Stone Bridge Press in the U.S. (aided by the Japan Foundation's Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan). During the lecture, moderated by Yukari Shiina (a translator of U.S. comics, manga researcher, and major fan of Schodt), he spoke of his passion for translating Japanese manga and his love for the works of Osamu Tezuka.


Damage to Cultural Heritage from the 2016 Ecuador Earthquake: Museums and the Understanding of Cultural Diversity

The Japan Foundation dispatched Professor Shuichi Odaira of Tokai University and a specialist in the archaeology of the Andes from September 2 through 15, 2016, to survey the damage caused to cultural heritage from the earthquake in Ecuador that occurred on April 16, 2016. Professor Odaira held a briefing session subsequently on December 16 of the same year at the Tokyo National Museum. In accordance with the request from the Foundation, he has shared with us a report based on his talk, provided here in digest form.

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