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IHJ Art Programs/ Concerts 2014

[IHJ Artists’ Forum] Full Circle ―PJ Hirabayashi, Japanese American Taiko Player

  • Date: Friday, October 17, 2014, 7:00 pm
  • Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
  • Speaker: PJ Hirabayashi (Taiko player, US-Japan Creative Artists Program Fellow)
  • Language: English & Japanese (with consecutive interpretation)
  • Co-sponsored by the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC)
  • Admission: Free (reservations required, Seating: 70)


PJ Hirabayashi, a co-founder of San Jose Taiko, one of America’s foremost taiko groups, is currently residing in Japan as a fellow of the Japan-US Friendship Commission’s Creative Artists Program.

Upon her retirement (or “rewirement,” in her own words), and inspired by the rebirthing concept of kanreki at the age of 60, this period in her life has motivated her to visit Japan, the home of her ancestry as well as her favorite instrument. Having worked for decades on keeping Japanese traditions alive in the United States, Hirabayashi is now passionate about working with Japanese artists who come from communities that have faced hardships or challenges, including Okinawan and Ainu people, among others.

In her Artist Forum talk, she will give a lecture (with video), addressing topics including the role of art in community-building, and the impact of taiko in Japanese-American communities.


[IHJ Artists’ Forum/ Screening & Talk] Rikuzentakata in 2014 ―A Work-in-Progress by Documentary Filmmaker Mina T. Son

  • Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014, 7:00 pm
  • Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
  • Speaker: Mina T. Son (Filmmaker, US-Japan Creative Artists Program Fellow)
  • Commentator: Christophe Thouny (Japanese urban culture, literature, media and ecocriticism/ Project Assistant Professor, The University of Tokyo Centre for Global Communication Strategies)
  • Language: English & Japanese (with consecutive interpretation & English subtitles)
  • Co-sponsored by the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC)
  • Admission: Free (reservations required, Seating: 70)
Photo Courtesy: Mina T. Son

RIKUZENTAKATA, a feature-length documentary by Mina T. Son, weaves together intimate stories of residents affected by the largest natural disaster in Japan’s modern history, three years after the fact. In an age where natural and human-made disasters are occurring with greater frequency, communities and families throughout the world confront many of the same questions. Do we relocate or rebuild? What does “home” mean when the population, the environment, the very land below you, are constantly shifting?

Mina T. Son lived in Rikuzentakata 10 years ago. Now, having returned to the region for the first time since then, her film, RIKUZENTAKATA, follows local residents who have chosen to stay and rebuild their lives, highlighting the resilience and ambivalence involved when a community recovers from a disaster.

Photo Courtesy: Mina T. Son

Following the screening will be a discussion with the filmmaker, who will be joined by Christophe Thouny, who specializes in Japanese urban culture, literature, media and ecocriticism, as well as post-Fukushima literature and film. He will comment and direct questions to Ms. Son, facilitating a discussion of RIKUZENTAKATA and its production process.

Program Report


[IHJ Artists’ Forum/ Reading & Talk] This Body Is Like the Moon in the Water―American Poet Patrick Donnelly’s Encounter with Japan

  • *This event has finished.
  • Date: Friday, June 27, 2014, 7:00 pm
  • Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
  • Speaker: Patrick Donnelly (Poet; US-Japan Creative Artists’ Program Fellow)
    Stephen D. Miller (Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
  • Language: English & Japanese
    (with consecutive interpretation and copies of the original texts)
  • Co-sponsored by the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC)
  • Admission: Free (reservations required, Seating: 70)

Patrick Donnelly began translating shakkyō-ka (poems with Buddhist themes) with American scholar Stephen D. Miller in 2004. The result was an explosion of new creative energy for Donnelly, as he began to borrow strategies from Japanese literature for his own poems.

Donnelly will read from his own Japan-influenced poems, and Miller and Donnelly will read from their waka translations, and talk about the collaborative process of bringing Japanese poetry into literary English.


[IHJ Artists’ Forum/Performance] Soratobu Boombox

  • Date: Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • Time: 4:30-7:30 pm (doors open at 4:00 pm) *free entry and exit at will
         Part 1: Opening, 4:30-5:30 pm
         Part 2: Garden Installation Performance, 5:30-6:30 pm
         Part 3: Finale, 6:30-7:30pm
  • Venue: Garden & Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, The International House of Japan
  • Conceived and directed by AKIM (director, choreographer, performance artist; US-Japan Creative Artists Program Fellow)
    Featuring: AKIM, AFRA, Iwasaki Mayu, Natsumiyuzu, Ken Powers and other very special guests
    Photo/Video: Andrew Benton
  • Admission: Free (reservation required)
  • Sponsored by the Japan-US Friendship Commission
  • *To ensure safety, the number of people permitted in the garden may be limited to 50 on a first-come, first-served basis.
    *The performance may be modified in the event of rain.
Photo:AkimAKIM is currently residing in Japan for three months as a fellow of the Creative Artists Program from the Japan-US Friendship Commission. His ongoing “urban tea ceremony” series explores the threads running through urban expression and Japanese traditions in music and dance.
In Soratobu Boombox, AKIM has developed a three-part performance event featuring live music and video projection; an installation-style performance in which audience members stroll through the Japanese gardens of the International House; and an invigorating closing finale that reaches out to the young and old, contemporary and ancient, sweeping across cultures, genres, race, and class. AKIM’s ability to command a wide-ranging audience is based on his belief in our intrinsic desire to create music, dance, and ceremony, giving us a refreshing reminder of what is possible.
This performance is also a reunion event between AKIM and Japan’s foremost human beat boxer AFRA, who first met AKIM when he travelled to NY at the age of 16 in his search for hip hop culture.

“We’ll experience the kind of show that’s truly rare, almost impossible in Japan, one that reaches into the subconscious of the audience members, encompassing forms from various elements like rap, poetry, chant, beatbox, theater, throat-singing, and dance.”

AFRA (Human Beatboxer)


[IHJ Artists’ Forum/ Lecture Concert] Taking Time: A Slow Exploration into Cultural Utopia

    • Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 7:00 pm
    • Venue: Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall, International House of Japan
    • Performance and Lecture:
      Hans Tutschku (composer, US-Japan Creative Artists Program Fellow)
    • Language: English and Japanese (with consecutive interpretation)
    • Program:
      Issho ni 8-channel electroacoustic composition (2014, world premiere)
      agitated slowness 8-channel electroacoustic composition (2010)
    • Co-sponsored by the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC)
    • Supported by the Japanese Society for Sonic Arts, Japanese Society of Electronic Music, and Department of Intermedia Art, Tokyo University of the Arts
    • Admission: Free (reservations required)

    “I believe that stimulating curiosity is one of the most important aspects of education, human interaction, and art.”

    This lecture concert will present recent works, including a world premiere by the composer Hans Tutschku. He will introduce some of his artistic concepts and working methods that join sounds and artifacts from different continents into utopian, ritualistic performances.

    Tutschku, originally from Germany, has lived for long durations in Holland, France, and the United States. He has traveled to more than 40 countries, always in search of typical sounds and musical encounters. He is known for his groundbreaking work in contemporary electroacoustic music. Tutschku also investigates the integration of technology in many other art forms and media, experimenting with oil painting, photography, theater, choreography, pottery, and video art. This experimentation has become an important source of inspiration for his music. His upbringing in communist East Germany was characterized by intense artistic collaborations and a constant yearning for the ability to express his ideas freely. The intensity of Tutschku’s works has not faded since the political change in 1989.

    Tutschku’s Website www.tutschku.com/

    Program Report