The Japan Foundation, London:Activity report of the Japan Foundation, London

The Japan Foundation, London

Japanese people feel refreshed in April when new fiscal year starts. The same is true for us in London, and we are working on the projects organized or supported by the Japan Foundation and on developing new projects and networks.

Shoji Kokami at the playreading workshop

2008 was the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and the United Kingdom, so we implemented many projects to participate in "Japan-UK 150." One of our major projects was "Movers and Shapers" lecture series: in October 2008, Professor Richard Bowring at University of Cambridge gave a lecture on Basil Hall Chamberlain, an eminent Japanologist of the late 19th century who taught at Tokyo University and was also first to translate the Kojiki into English; in February 2009, Dr. Andrew Cobbing at Nottingham University gave a lecture on the historical context of the Choshu Five, or five young students from the Choshu samurai clan who studied in the UK and later played important roles in the Japanese government in the Meiji era. A film "Choshu Five" was also added to Japanese film screenings that traveled five cities in the U.K. The Movers and Shapers lecture series continues until the end of 2009, including this month's special event, The Business, Life and Letters of Frederick Cornes.

Other projects for the audience in London were: a lecture on a poet Kenji Miyazawa by professor Roger Pulvers at Tokyo Institute of Technology; a lecture on the Kanda Festival by Professor Naoyuki Kinoshita at the University of Tokyo; an open public playreading of "Halcyon Days" written by Shoji Kokami, who participated in this event, as well as workshop and talk session with Mr. Kokami, in collaboration with British directors and actors.

In the field of Japanese-language education, we implemented various projects as mid- and long-term attempts to provide stable and secure basis for the cultural relationship between Japan and UK as well as to broaden the range of people who understand Japanese culture and society. Projects include: participation as an exhibitor at the Language Show 2008 (November); Japanese Language Proficiency Test conducted worldwide (December); the Fourth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students (February); sessions on Japanese comedy and mystery stories for advanced learners of Japanese (November and February /March); Japan Conference for Schools (February); Head Start course for schools in setting up Japanese language classes (February); and training day for Step Out Net volunteers (March). There were also various seminars co-organised with the Japanese Language Committee or organizations related to culture, education, and language tests in the U.K.

The London Language Centre's Library is one of the largest libraries in the Europe of Japanese language teaching materials. Services provided via this library are a part of our key missions in terms of support for Japanese language education and promotion of understanding of Japanese culture and society.

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