Top Story

This is an article on a special topic published each month. It carries an interview with a top runner in one of various fields or a dialog with a key person who leads an international project.


Motivation to Study Japanese, Learning Methods, and the Appeal of the Japanese Language: Tips from Foreigners Who Apply Their Japanese Language Proficiency in Their Careers
[Part 1]

Japanese pop-culture, like anime, manga, and J-pop, is attracting global attention, and this trend has boosted interest in the Japanese language. The Japan Foundation has just released the results of its Survey on Japanese-Language Education Abroad 2015, but even the results of the 2012 survey shows that there are already nearly four million Japanese-language learners around the world. In fact, this does not include learners studying Japanese alone using television, radio, the Internet and other means, so the actual number of people studying Japanese must be considerably higher. So what motivates foreign people to study Japanese, and what learning methods do they apply? Also, what is their impression of the Japanese language? In order to find answers to these questions, we asked three foreigners fluent in Japanese--musician Marty Friedman (the U.S.), manga artist Carolin Eckhardt (Germany), and voice actress Jenya (Russia)--about their approach to studying Japanese and the reasons they felt attracted to it.


Some Questions to Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi

Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris (The Japan Foundation), commonly abbreviated to MCJP, hosts a series of exhibitions Transphère to introduce new creativity, which corresponds to sensibility of people living today, from international perspectives. Under the supervision of the MCJP's artistic director Aomi Okabe, the series is to exhibit nationally and internationally active contemporary artists, architects, designers, and other artists and creators. As the first exhibition of the series, the MCJP held Fertile Landscape welcoming the media artists Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi, who have a mastery of cutting-edge technology, between March 16 and May 7, 2016. We reprint the interview of the two artists, which was originally appeared in the exhibition catalogue, together with pictures taken at the exhibition and the artists' past works.

2016.5. 9

Tomita's Globally Reverberating Sound: From Its Origins to Symphony Ihatov

Isao Tomita is a pioneer of synthesized music and a leading Japanese composer. In our top story, we will present an extract from the lecture held to commemorate Mr. Tomita's reception of the 2015 Japan Foundation Award.


What Literature Can Do -- Conversation between Two Novelists and One Translator

Hideo Furukawa, who is always passionately active; Laird Hunt, who visited Japan from the U.S. to celebrate the publication of his second novel translated in Japanese, Kind One; and translator Motoyuki Shibata, who has introduced Japan to a multitude of authors in the English-speaking world. On December 2nd, these three came together to discuss the subject, "what literature can do?"


Memories Locked in Keys Streaming down on Venice: Unique Experience Born in the Japan Pavilion

On July 28, a briefing session was held at the Japan Foundation, JFIC Hall "Sakura" to present the exhibition at the Japan Pavilion conducted as part of the 56th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia. Hitoshi Nakano, the curator of the exhibition, and Chiharu Shiota, the exhibiting artist, introduced their project, The Key in the Hand, an exhibition held at the Japan Pavilion. The project was widely publicized in newspapers and art magazines across Europe, and attracted some 130,000 visitors.

2015.7. 1

The Delights of Performing Rakugo in English and Writing Novels in Japanese

Shinoharu Tatekawa is a rakugo performer who studied at a U.S. university, and practices rakugo in English. You may be familiar with him from his Wochi Kochi Magazine essay series. David Zoppetti is a Swiss born novelist living in Japan who writes novels in Japanese. A discussion was held on June 8 between the rakugo performer and the novelist, who express themselves in a language other than their mother tongue. Under the witty guidance of J. MaXwell Powers as the moderator, discussions took place over 90 minutes covering the attractions of their respective activities of performing rakugo in English and writing novels in Japanese. In this article, we bring you a summary of the scene at the hall, where the discussions were met with great laughter and enjoyment.


The Whereabouts of Art and Happiness that We Discovered in Bangladesh

The Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh (AABB), also known as the Bangladesh Biennale, was first held in 1981 and is the second-oldest international exhibition in Asia. The 16th edition was held in 2014 with the participation of 32 countries, including Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. Chim↑Pom, an artist collective, participated in the latest edition of the AABB representing Japan, together with Mizuki Takahashi of the Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito who served as the curator. Chim↑Pom's works attracted a lot of interest as their presentation was made not only at the museum but also expanded in Dhaka City.


Fostering the Next Generation of Filmmakers and Introducing Nara's Landscapes to the World

The Japan Foundation awards the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship to organizations that endeavor to strengthen networks and collaboration among citizens both inside and outside Japan, and mutually share knowledge, ideas, and expertise through intercultural exchange. In 2014, on the 30th year of the prizes, they were awarded to three organizations, including the Nara International Film Festival.


Art to Embrace the People Living in Disaster Affected Areas and Capture Their Memories

Throughout the Tohoku region, where efforts for reconstruction from the damage of the Great East Japan Earthquake are ongoing, numerous cultural and artistic organizations are taking action in their communities and searching for ways to assist in reconstruction through art.


Approximately 700 Pieces from Hokusai's 70-Year Artistic Career on Display at the Grand Palais

The HOKUSAI exhibition, held at the Grand Palais in Paris, France from October 1, 2014 to January 18, 2015, attracted an astounding 359,000 visitors. This exhibition was organized jointly by the Japan Foundation and the Grand Palais, with the original intention of commemorating the 200th anniversary of the publication of the Hokusai Manga (1814), which was one of Hokusai's representative works.

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