This article, which digs deeper into the topic of the month, is written by a scholar or a researcher in and outside Japan on his or her thoughts on the topic.
In this fifth issue of our special feature "Crossing Borders, Engaging in Exchanges and Harnessing the Power of Creation amid COVID-19", we welcome Sakoda Kumiko, Deputy Executive Director of Hiroshima University and Specially Appointed Professor of Morito Institute of Global Higher Education.
The year 2019 was a splendid year to experience Japanese art around the world, especially in the United States. Four major institutions--the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art--partnered with the Japan Foundation in organizing noteworthy exhibitions of Japan's rich artistic heritage. Audiences from across the country were able to enjoy a memorable year devoted to Japan.
Professor Ewa Pałasz-Rutkowska, one of the recipients of the Japan Foundation Awards 2019, is a top scholar of Japanese history in Poland. She gave the commemorative lecture "Poland and Japan―Friendly relations for over 100 years" for the Japan Foundation Awards 2019 on November 8, 2019, at the University of Tokyo (Hongo Campus). [Contributed by Numano Mitsuyoshi (Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, the University of Tokyo), who moderated the commemorative lecture.]
With Japan's fall 2019 hosting of the Rugby World Cup, rugby has surged in popularity across the country. Against this backdrop, global attention has turned to Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), a movement to spread the vision of leveraging sports to advance development and peace. Masatoshi Mukoyama received the FY2018 Japan Foundation Asia Center Fellowship to visit four ASEAN countries and research their implementation of rugby SDP programs, so we asked him to write this article on his experiences there and the potential for sports-driven international exchange.
Masatsugu Ono grew up in the southern part of Oita Prefecture, and has portrayed the people who live there in detailed prose. As a participant in the Japan Foundation programs, Ono has conducted lectures and provided commentary on his works in Vietnam, talked about the Japanese literary scene in Toronto and Montreal, Canada, and given public readings and talks at international literary festivals in Russia, Armenia, and Germany. Here, Ono describes his contact with readers outside Japan, revealing the thoughts and ideas inspired by those encounters.
The performing arts program for Japonismes 2018 encompassed 36 projects in theater, dance, and music. Forming the core was a carefully crafted lineup of theatrical productions that ranged from genres steeped in history and tradition to ones with a vibrantly contemporary feel, from small- to large-scale, and from the commercial to the avant-garde.
Although she has lived mainly in Germany since 1982, the poet and writer Yoko Tawada freely crosses barriers of country and language as she travels between Germany and Japan. Her work in both German and Japanese has received a number of prestigious literary awards in both countries. In recognition of the important contribution she has made to promoting true mutual understanding that transcends national and cultural barriers, she has been chosen as the recipient of the Japan Foundation Award 2018. The following is Tawada's contribution based on the talk she gave at the Japan Foundation Awards Commemorative Lecture, entitled "Journey Carrying Words, Looking for Words."
I developed a strong interest in Japan, and at the age of 15, I started studying Japanese in earnest. What I really liked at first was the existence of hiragana and katakana. They're so convenient - once you memorize them, you can start writing words in Japanese and using verbs! But there are so many of them, so I decided to make a kana memory game I could play by myself. I'd write a hiragana on one card, and on another card I'd write its equivalent in Roman letters.
My first impressions of Havana were of peace and tranquility, almost as if time had stopped in the mid-twentieth century. The Old Havana area in Cuba's capital is a magnet for Western sightseers, and has many classic American cars that were imported in the 1950s before the country's relations with the United States soured. Repaired over and over to keep them running, the cars are a wonderful match for the colonial-style architecture painted in pinks and greens. The area has plenty of music, too, with the son and rumba reverberating from ubiquitous street-corner cafes and restaurants.
Since 2017, the Japan Foundation, together with UNIJAPAN (Tokyo International Film Festival Secretariat) and the Shanghai International Film & TV Festival Co., Ltd. (Shanghai International Film Festival Secretariat), has been promoting Japan-China exchange programs in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. In May 2017, the "1st Japanese Film Week in Guangzhou" took place. In December, the Japanese Film Festival was held in the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Kunming, during which nine new films were screened in each city.