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.
Against the backdrop of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, the world is still unable to cope with the issue of refugees crossing national borders to flee the horrors of war. At the same time, however, the threat of terrorism in Europe is still real and present. This issue is further complicated by problems related to religion and Islam in particular. For Europeans, these problems are more pressing than what people living in Japan imagine. We came to realize this through our participation in a seminar organized by the Council of Europe under its Intercultural Cities programme, "Tackling Prejudice and Engaging with Religious Minorities."
Brazil is home of the largest community of Nikkei, or people of Japanese descent. Their number reaches approximately 1.6 million. When Japanese migration began in 1908, Japanese-language education in Brazil was implemented with priority given to heritage language education for Japanese-Brazilian children. As the generational change in the Nikkei community advanced, however, heritage language education has shifted to teaching Japanese as a foreign language. The Centro Brasileiro de Língua Japonesa (CBLJ) was established against this backdrop in 1985, and has provided support to Japanese-language teachers and learners, and worked to popularize Japanese culture. It has also contributed to the advancement of Japanese-language education in South American countries with large Nikkei communities. The CBLJ was given a 2016 Japan Foundation Award for its distinguished achievements. Armando Toshiharu Tachibana, President of the CBLJ, delivered a lecture on October 20, 2016, at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) in commemoration of CBLJ's receipt of the Japan Foundation Award. The lecture was titled "The Situation and Challenges of Japanese-language Education for Future Generations: The Meaning of Japanese-language and Culture to Brazilian Youths."
Prior to the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Japan Foundation hosted "Olha Pro Céu～Look at the Sky～," a joint Japan-Brazil pop concert in Rio de Janeiro on July 29 and 30, 2016. The participants in the concert from Japan were Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Marcia, who were joined by Brazilian artists Vanessa da Mata, a highly popular singer with a great singing voice, and Emicida, one of Brazil's top rappers. These artists created a bridge of music connecting Japan and Brazil. Music and radio program producer Jin Nakahara, who worked on the production of this concert, and who for many years has been involved in activities that link Japan and Brazil through music, contributed this article describing how the concert was organized and held.
Coinciding with the 19th Japan Festival in Brazil held in July 2016, the Japan Foundation, São Paulo invited a Japanese street dance unit Hilty & Bosch and hosted dance performances at the Festival do Japão and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) . Hilty & Bosch, now in their 19th year, have performed street dance in over 30 countries. Here is what they wrote about their dance exchanges with the children in a favela they visited, as well as the dance performances.
In March 2016, a project entitled "Reality, Extinguished/Generated by Science and Culture - Fiction, Institution, Technology and Bodies in the 21st Century" was conducted by the Japan Foundation. This project considered the ways in which we look at "reality" as it continues to change with the development and spread of cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), through five inspection tours, workshops, and lecture series, the Foundation's "Mission Project."
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. With our grant funding, 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. The booklet "Worth Sharing - A Selection of Japanese Books Recommended for Translation" introduces some good books that give people overseas a better understanding of contemporary Japan. New ways of living in Japan" was chosen for the theme of Vol.4. Twenty works, which allow us to explore the various forms of love expressed by Japanese people of the same age carried, has been selected. A member of the selection committee, Mariko Ozaki, shares her thoughts on the theme.
Ever since establishing the Japan Foundation Prizes for Global Citizenship in 1985, the Japan Foundation has been annually honoring organizations engaged in international cultural exchanges to deepen mutual understanding, partnerships, and coexistence between the citizens of Japan and people abroad. In 2015, a total of 134 organizations applied or were nominated from all over Japan for prizes. Following a selection process, the prizes were awarded to NPO Peace Field Japan in Tokyo, Yamamoto Noh Theater in Osaka, and NPO Kobe Foreigners Friendship Center in Hyogo. This article introduces the activities of the three organizations and the acceptance remarks made by the representative of each organization at the award ceremony.
The reality of working overseas is that even people who aspire to a common goal--to develop their potential in the global field--are driven by different reasons to choose this goal and adopt different approaches to attain it. To explore these issues, the Japan Foundation organized a talk event titled "Global Careers to Change the World," inviting as speakers two representatives of past winners of the Japan Foundation Prize for Global Citizenship: 2011 recipient Naoki Kusanagi of NPO Kamonohashi Project, and 2012 recipient Yoshinori Kurita of NPO Terra Renaissance, as well as Mari Hamada, a representative of Nadeshiko Voice and chief editor of ABROADERS, who also doubled as moderator of the talk event. The three participants, who are actively engaged in global projects, spoke frankly about their own experiences, motivation and vision in front of an audience composed of young people who soon will be facing the task of considering career options and future development.
Since FY2014, the Japan Foundation has been implementing an exchange program for curators between Japan and China, the Japan-China Curator Exchange Program. In 2015, six young curators travelled from Japan to Shanghai and Beijing in March, and eight curators were invited from China to visit cities in Japan including Tokyo, Kobe, Hiroshima, and Kanazawa in November. They visited museums and arts festivals in various regions to deepen interactions between the two countries. In November 2015, training reports were given by the Chinese curators and discussions were held between Japan and China based on the reports at the JFIC Hall "Sakura." The details of this are explained in digest form.
The Japan Foundation and the Raku Museum jointly organized the exhibition Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States of America from March through June 2015, and at the State Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Russia from July through November of the same year. Artist Raku Atsundo, the creator of some of the pieces featured in the exhibition, traveled to Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and kindly contributed this article describing the local reactions to the exhibition and his interactions with Russian people.