Behind the Scenes – Stories from backstage

From shamisen concerts to international social research, the Japan Foundation’s activities span a wide range. We bring you a glimpse of the action backstage, the joys and pains that go into making these events happen, featuring stories that only staff members can tell, of episodes that could only happen in that particular corner of the world.


FC Tokyo and Indonesian youths take on a big challenge

Children kick a football on a bright afternoon in the sweltering heat, with temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius. Fathers and mothers watch from the sidelines--perhaps an everyday scene in Japan, but here, after 3:00 p.m., the sound of the adhan can be heard calling Muslims to prayer at a nearby mosque. This is the Republic of Indonesia, the most heavily populated country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and these kids are practicing football under the watchful eye of their 26-year-old Japanese coach, Yu Komiyama.


The Bonds between Regions and the World that are Fostered by Global Citizens - On Overseeing the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship Program

The Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship were founded in 1985 under the name of the Japan Foundation Prizes for the Promotion of Community-Based Cultural Exchange. The Japan Foundation was established in 1972. At the time, the Japanese economy was enjoying ongoing growth, and "international," "culture," and "regions" were the key words of the times. In the 1980s, regional municipalities began to engage in promoting cultural administration. Various cultural facilities, such as civic halls, art galleries, and museums, were built in each region, and municipalities began inviting artists from overseas and holding international cultural events, and this saw international cultural exchange take root throughout the country. In 1987, the "Guidelines for International Exchange in Local Public Bodies" was issued, and the internationalization of the regions progressed further as international exchange associations were set up across the country.


Tora-san screened in Bengali!

The Japan Foundation provides high quality Japanese broadcast contents primarily to countries and regions where commercial broadcast of them would be difficult through its Japanese TV Broadcasting Abroad program. As part of the program, the Bengali version of Tora-san's Sunrise and Sunset was broadcast on a Bangladeshi TV channel with the cooperation of the Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh in September 2016.


The Development of JF Japanese e-Learning Minato, a Place to Learn and Meet

The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai , has developed websites and smartphone apps to aid in learning Japanese as a part of a program to support the Japanese-language learners around the world. In July 2016, "JF Japanese e-Learning Minato " was newly opened. It is a Japanese-language learning platform, widely and generally available, so that anyone that has access to the Internet from a PC, smartphone, or any other device, can register as a user. Users can select and take any course they find interesting or useful from the wide variety of courses available on Minato. Furthermore, the platform is about more than simply learning; users can also interact with others who share the same interests on community pages, all on the theme of Japan.


Tenth Anniversary of the Japan Foundation China Center

The Japan Foundation China Center ("the Center") was established in 2006 with the aim of promoting youth exchange between Japan and China. Under the motto of "Heart to Heart Community," the Center connects the hearts and minds of young people on which the future of the two countries rests. Based on my private-sector background and as the inaugural Managing Director, I have been involved in the work of the Center since its founding.


A Step Toward Sharing Ideas: Japan-Korea Young Cultural Dialogue Program

I was transferred to the Japan Foundation, Seoul in April 2012, and worked there for a period of approximately four years. During that period, various bilateral issues came to the surface and the relationship between Japan and Korea was rather unfriendly. In the field of arts and culture, on the other hand, I believe that the exchanges between the two countries made steady progress.


Creating a Concert Based on Haruki Murakami: "Watch," "Listen to," and "Talk about" Haruki Murakami in Singapore and Seoul

On April 1, 2015, the first day of my transfer to my new section at work, I was unexpectedly entrusted with a mission: "I want you to create a concert in connection with Haruki Murakami."


A Hub of Japanese Studies in China: Commemorative Symposium for the 30th Anniversary of the Beijing Center for Japanese Studies

In 1980, the "Training Center for Japanese Language Teachers," commonly called the "Ohira School," was established based on the 1979 agreement between then Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira and then premier Hua Guofeng with the aim of fostering human resources to promote Japanese language and Japanese studies in China as well as cultural exchange. Five years later, through negotiations between the Japan Foundation and the Ministry of Education (MOE) of the Government of the People's Republic of China, the Ohira School was reborn as the Beijing Center for Japanese Studies, and has continued to function as one of the institutional hubs of Japanese education and research in China. The Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015 and numerous events have been held so far to commemorate this occasion, culminating in the much-anticipated international symposium "Possibilities for Japanese Studies in Asia," the main event in the series of celebrations.


Hope for Syria

The Japan Foundation Cairo Office hosted the Japanese Language Education Seminar in the Middle East in August of this year. The seminar is held annually with the participation of approximately 40 Japanese-language teachers from the Middle East and North Africa for training and information exchange. This year marked the 15th anniversary of the seminar. Forty teachers from seven countries participated, including two from Syria, a country that for several years now has been in the grips of civil war.

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Experiencing the New Perspectives of Ryukyuan Arts in South America Report on the Ryukyu-Okinawa Traditional Performing Arts Tour of South America

Both Bolivia and Brazil are countries that have deep connections with Okinawa Prefecture. In Bolivia, for instance, there is a town called Colonia Okinawa, a settlement of Okinawan migrants in Bolivia. It is a place where the culture of Okinawa is preserved and passed from generation to generation. The first Japanese settlers came to Colonia Okinawa some 60 years ago. The present project was planned and implemented in order to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Colonia Okinawa and the 100th anniversary of Japan-Bolivian diplomatic relations. Sao Paulo in Brazil is home to many people of Okinawan descent. The year 2015 marks the 120th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Brazil, so in order to commemorate it, the project was carried out in Brazil as well.

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