Vol.35 September 2010
- The 65th anniversary of the end of World War II
- Japanese Training Squadron and Ambassador Nishimiya Visits Maryland
- Alumni Unite to Stress the Value of the JET Program
- Dr. Hinohara & "Freddie" convey the importance of life
- Friendship through flowers - Ikebana Demonstration
- Visit Japan - Izumo: City of Myths and Dream / A once in a lifetime journey
- Culture Connection - The Japanese Embassy of 1860 Visits Philadelphia
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Last chance to see the Samurai...
- Visit Twelve Nations in One Day
- Event Calendar
Cabinet Public Relations Office
August marked a series of anniversaries: the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II as well as the 100th anniversary of the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty.
On August 6, international dignitaries gathered in Hiroshima for the Peace Memorial Ceremony and reflected not only on the suffering inflicted by the bombings as well as on current efforts of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Prime Minister Kan articulated Japan's "moral responsibility to lead actions toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons". Prime Minister Kan reiterated this message three days later on August 9, at the Nagasaki Peace Ceremony. U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos , who became the first American Ambassador to attend the ceremony in Hiroshima, underscored the common goal of advancing this vision of "a world without nuclear weapon" shared by Japan and the U.S. at the ceremony. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also vowed to work on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation as a top priority of the United Nations.
Cabinet Public Relations Office
As well, August 10 marked the 100th anniversary of the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, a treaty which began Japan's 36-year colonial rule of Korea through the end of World War II. In a statement, Prime Minister Kan noted, "To the tremendous damage and sufferings that this colonial rule caused, I express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and my heartfelt apology." He then underscored his determination to build a future oriented Japan - Republic of Korea relationship.
At the Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead on August 15, Prime Minister Kan honored those who lost their lives in World War II and expressed his deep respect for the burdens of the bereaved family members who overcome many hardships. He also noted the "damage and suffering to the people of many countries" brought on by Japan, and expressed his profound remorse and sincere mourning for the war victims and their family members. Kan said that it is imperative to "continue to sincerely look back on the past and hand down the lessons of that horrible war" and renewed Japan's pledge to engage in peace, not war.
Cabinet Public Relations Office
Cabinet Public Relations Office
At the end of June, Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya made his first official visit to Maryland. There he met with the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, to encourage cooperation between Japan and the local community. During the meeting, Mayor Rawlings-Blake fondly recalled her memories from a visit to Japan in the 1980s.
The Ambassador also had a chance to view a folding screen designed by a Noh actor, a collection of samurai armor and many other traditional accessories given by Kawasaki City to the mayor's office. Baltimore has been a sister city of Kawasaki City, the ninth most populated city in Japan, since 1978. The similarities between the two cities are easy to see. While Baltimore is a main city of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, Kawasaki is a main city of the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Similarly, just as Baltimore is situated on the Chesapeake Bay, so Kawasaki lies on the banks of Tokyo Bay.
At the end of July, three vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Training Squadron, the Kashima, Sawayuki and Yamagiri, arrived for a port call at Baltimore harbor on their friendship voyage around the world. The trip is in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and with the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States which was accompanied by a Japanese navy ship, the Kanrin-maru.
On July 26, the local community held a welcome ceremony at the harbor. Two Boy Scouts from Baltimore and Kawasaki assumed the role of flag-bearers for the national flags of the U.S. and Japan. In return, Rear Admiral Shinichi Tokumaru, the commander of the Training Squadron, invited over two-hundred people for a reception on the Kashima. Ambassador Nishimiya met Mayor Rawlings-Blake again, and they opened a Sake barrel together as the opening toast. Ambassador Nishimiya and Admiral Tokumaru also visited the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and offered flowers at the grave of Admiral Burke, who fought against Japan and contributed to the foundation of JMSDF after the war.
On July 27, the Training Squadron visited Washington D.C. and attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Ambassador Nishimiya and Captain Hirotaka Nakao, the commanding officer of the Kashima, then visited the State House in Annapolis and met with the Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley. Their discussion primarily focused on the economy. When the Ambassador talked about JR-Maglev, a magnetic levitation train system developed by Japan Railways Group, the Governor showed a miniature JR-Maglev on his desk to the Ambassador.
On July 28, JMSDF Brass Band held an outdoor music concert at the harbor. The band played several popular numbers and Tommy Polka, which was a hit number composed for a member of the diplomatic mission in 1860. Kaoru Watanabe, a Japanese flute ("fue") and drum ("taiko") player, and Yumi Kurosawa, a Japanese harp ("koto") player, joined in the concert. Hundreds of people were there to enjoy this exotic and traditional musical selection.
The squadron also opened their vessels to the public for two days and about 2,500 visitors boarded the vessels. During the public tours, the officers explained how the ships worked. The squadron departed for Lisbon on July 29.
From August 13-15, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association (JETAA) held its USA National Conference in New York City. The members are former participants in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program which invites motivated young people, mostly recent university graduates, to Japan for one year (with an option to extend for up to 5 years) and provides them with an opportunity to teach their native languages at Japanese schools or to work in local government offices. After returning to their home countries, many former JETs find success in Japan-related fields and businesses.
In over 20 years of existence, more than 52,000 people have taken part in the JET Program, about half of them Americans. JETAA, the JET alumni association, has evolved into one of the world's most extensive Japan-focused organizations, bringing Japanese culture to countries around the globe, working to foster outreach and organizing networking activities. JETAA has 51 chapters worldwide consisting of 23,000 members. In the US, there are 19 JETAA chapters with more than 10,000 total members. The JETAA USA National Conference is held each year in a chapter city, enabling chapter leaders to collaborate and share ideas on alumni activities and initiatives.
At this year's meeting in New York the main focus was the recent Japanese government review of the JET and JETAA budgets. While JET is the most successful public diplomacy program ever launched in Japan, and JETs are recognized as assets to both Japan and the US, there has been criticism of the high costs local governments must bear to accept JETs. Additionally, Japanese tax payers may not be aware of the contributions JETs make to the Japan-US relationship.
An indicator of JET's success has been the dedication of its alumni, and the JETAA delegates spent days and nights of meetings discussing what they can do for the future of JET. At the end of the conference, JETAA issued a press release highlighting examples of notable JET alumni in different fields, concluding "JETAA USA hopes that upon review the Japanese government will rediscover the necessity and value of the JET Program and JETAA. Japan needs both JET and JETAA to continue building bridges between Japan and the United States."
Dr. Hinohara & "Freddie" convey the importance of life
Photo FREDDIE COMPANY
"F reddie the Leaf" was originally written by Leo Buscaglia (1924 - 1998), a former Professor at South California University to illustrate the balance between life and death. After reading the book, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, decided to create a Japanese musical version of the story which was performed in New York from August 13th to 15th at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. Dr. Hinohara, one of the world's most enduring physicians and educators, will turn 99 in October. His books and lectures inspire many Japanese people and he remains hugely popular as his schedule is already full for the next four years.
The musical has been performed by young boys and girls in Japan since 2000 and Dr. Hinohara wanted the New York performance to express a message for "Life" and "Green" to the world and let every child know why their life is so important. Dr. Hinohara also wanted to convey the value and joy of life and nature to the world. He hopes that Japan's friendship with the United States will "grow much bigger and stronger".
Photo FREDDIE COMPANY
The theater was packed all three days with a captivated audience that seem to appreciate the universal them of "life". Dr. Hinohara always felt that it would be wonderful if the show were performed in America, its birthplace and his dream finally came true!! His happiness showed as he appeared on stage, smiling and dancing along with the young actors with lightness in his step. His visit to New York was made more special when he gave an exclusive television interview conducted by the Associate Press on August 13th. During the interview, done entirely in English without any script or prior arrangement, Dr. Hinohara eloquently emphasized that he thought his belief had fit perfectly into the message that the musical conveyed - the importance of life. The interview has circulated worldwide via AP, which made his visit to New York that much more symbolic.
Dr. Hinohara's dedication to strengthening ties with the United States is shown not only by the musical but also the restoration of the Whitfield - Manjiro Friendship Memorial House in May of 2009. Along with a group of Japanese supporters, he worked hard to collect enough money to buy and restore the Captain's house which was on sale and in grave condition. Dr. Hinohara hoped that the house would be a symbol of the Japan - U.S. friendship.
Friendship through flowers - Ikebana Demonstration
On August 28th, the Consulate General of Japan in New York partnered with Ikebana International, Buffalo Chapter #50 to host an Ikebana (Japanese Flower arrangement) demonstration in East Amherst, NY. This year, Ikebana International, Buffalo Chapter celebrates its landmark 50th anniversary while the Consulate continues to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese Delegation's arrival in the U.S.
Ikebana International is dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of Ikebana. The organization consists of people from many different backgrounds and nationalities. There are currently about 8,500 members from over 60 countries across the world.
At the beginning of the event, the President of Ikebana International, Buffalo Chapter, Ms. Eleanor Wolford, gave a speech followed by remarks from Mr. Joe Koessler, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Buffalo. Finally, Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Consul General of Japan in New York and Director of Japan Information Center, spoke about the celebration of Japan-U.S. relations, the Ikebana demonstration and Ikebana International, Buffalo Chapter.
After the remarks, Mr. Gregory Williams from Ikebana International Toronto took part in the demonstration. During his career, he has exhibited his Ikebana skills in the U.S, Japan, Australia, Europe and Canada. Mr. Williams began studying Ikebana in 1977 and is now a First Class teacher, Ikkyu Shihan Riji (the highest level attainable) at the Sogetsu School. During his demonstration, he created many wonderful Ikebana, using various kinds of flowers such as Glad's orange, Roses, Chrysanths, Dahlias, Calla Lily, and Agapanthus, while explaining Ikebana techniques and floral materials. The participants were impressed by his great work and paid close attention to his choice of flower materials and containers, the placement of the branches, and the relationship of the branches to the container and surrounding space.
During the reception, participants discussed the history of Ikebana and Mr. Williams' demonstration. The event served not only as a celebration of two important anniversaries but also as a realization of Ellen Gordon Allen's dream that her organization would unite "peoples of the world through their mutual love of nature and enjoyment of Ikebana".
Izumo : City of Myths and Dreams
A once in a lifetime journey
Izumo City is situated in the central eastern part of Shimane Prefecture, which is itself located on the western side of Honshu, the main island of Japan. Bordered by the Japan Sea to the north and west and by the saltwater Lake Shinji to the east, the plain on which Izumo rests was formed by the Hiikawa and Kandogawa rivers, so that Izumo is blessed with abundant greenery and fresh water. The northern and western coastline of the Shimane Peninsula is home to a "ria" (drowned valley) and has been designated a National Park.
Izumo City is known as the home of the Izumo Myths, tales full of romance and adventure from the birth of ancient Japan. The Izumo Taisha, or Grand Shrine at Izumo, pays homage to Okuninushi-no-kami, the god of matchmaking, whose story is documented in two important written collections of Japanese history and mythology, the Kojiki and Nipponshoki. According to tradition, all the gods throughout the country gather at Izumo Taisha once a year to confer on matters of importance. This takes place in the 10th month of the old lunar calendar used in Japan, and the month is known throughout most of the country as "Kannazuki", meaning "the month without gods". In Izumo, however, this month is referred to as "Kamiarizuki", or "the month with gods" and a ceremony is held each year to celebrate their arrival.
The shrine in which Okuninushi-no-kami resides has been designated as a National Treasure, and it is said that the current building was erected in 1744. Since then, reconstruction and repair work was carried out in 1809, 1881 and 1953. In 2008, after a 60-year hiatus, repair work began once more and another building at Izumo Taisha was designated as Okuninushi-no-kami's residence in the interim. Repair work on the main shrine is scheduled to be completed around May 2013, at which time another ceremony is being planned to celebrate the homecoming of Okuninushi-no-kami.
Various historical sites have been discovered in Izumo, such as the remains of a tomb thought to have been built for a powerful king or lord sometime from the end of the 2nd to the beginning of the 3rd century. Many artifacts, along with informative, easy-to-understand exhibits on the culture of that time can be found at the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo, located near Izumo Taisha, and the Izumo Yayoinomori Museum, which just opened its doors to the public in April 2010. (http://www.izm.ed.jp/english/)
Izumo is where the gods from every part of Japan gather. We hope that you too will visit Izumo, where you can receive the blessings of the gods in a place overflowing with both ancient culture and the vitality of modern times.
- Population: 147,000
- Area: 543 square kilometers
- Access: 85 minutes flying time from Tokyo (Haneda) to Izumo Airport
- 25 minutes by shuttle bus from Izumo Airport to Izumo City
- Local products: Izumo soba, Shimane grapes, figs, persimmons, Shimane wine etc.
- Izumo City homepage: http://www.city.izumo.shimane.jp/（Japanese only）
- Izumo sightseeing homepage: http://www.izumo-kankou.gr.jp/（Japanese only）
- For further information:
- International Exchange Section (Izumo, City, Japan)
- Tourism Promotion Division
- Japan Local Government Center (CLAIR, New York)
- Izumo Taisha
- http://www.izumooyashiro.or.jp/ （Japanese only）
The Japanese Embassy of 1860 Visits Philadelphia
- Special Contribution by Dr. Felice Fischer
- The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Acting Curator of East Asian Art
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
As most Americans are aware, the first official contact between Japan and the United States occurred in 1853 when Commodore Perry's ships steamed into the Bay of Uraga. Less well known is the first official contact in the reverse direction, the visit of the Japanese shogunal embassy of 1860, which stopped at San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
The envoys visited Philadelphia from June 9th for one week. Curious Philadelphians flocked to catch a glimpse of the foreign visitors, even blocking the streets around and entrance to their hotel, the Continental. Often leaving by the back entrance of the hotel, the Japanese were shown the highlights of Philadelphia, including the United States Mint, Girard College, Bailey's jewelry store, and the Fairmount Water Works and Park,. One group stopped at the firm of Tyndale & Mitchell, manufacturers and importers of ceramics. Co-owner Hector Tyndale (1821-1880) kept the establishment open after hours and shuttered the windows so that the visitors would not be disturbed. Tyndale later became one of the jurors for the Ceramics Section of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, where his greatest admiration went to the Japanese ceramics. He himself formed a collection of Japanese pottery and porcelain which was donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Several members of the 1860 embassy, including two physicians named Maekawa and Moriyama, attended an operation performed by the renowned Philadelphia surgeon Dr. Samuel Gross (1805-1884). Gross was teaching anatomy and surgery at his alma mater, Jefferson Medical College (now Jefferson University). The operation the embassy group witnessed was the removal of a gall bladder stone, and took place at the patient's home. They were particularly interested in the sulphuric ether administered by Dr. Morton, the discoverer of this new anesthetic. The Japanese doctors were afterwards invited to visit Jefferson Medical College as well. The year before, in 1859, Dr. Gross had published his definitive two-volume System of Surgery, which became the handbook used worldwide, including Japan. Interestingly, the System of Surgery was translated into Japanese not from the original English, but from a German language edition. The early Western medical training in Meiji Japan was introduced from Germany, and the medical terminology used was German at that time.
The name of Dr. Gross is familiar to Philadelphians today chiefly owing to the extraordinary portrait of him by Thomas Eakins (1848-1918), called The Gross Clinic. Painted in 1875, it was shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and afterward acquired by Jefferson Medical College. In 2007, the painting was jointly purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. By a fortuitous coincidence, visitors to Philadelphia can feel some of the same sense of awe as the 1860 envoys viewing Dr. Gross at work, as it is now on view in the Perleman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Gross Clinic shows an operation to remove a growth from a patient's thigh taking place in the teaching amphitheater of Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Gross stands at the dramatically lit center explaining the procedure.
During the past two years, The Gross Clinic has itself undergone "surgery" of a sort, in the form of the first major conservation in nearly half a century, The present exhibition shows Eakins' preparatory studies for the painting, X-radiographs of the canvas, historical images of The Gross Clinic, and a video documentary to help understand how the painting was made, how it looked in 1875, and how and why it has changed over time. Everyone is invited to come follow in the footsteps of the 1860 Embassy to Philadelphia.
The days have become cooler and more comfortable; summer has passed and autumn will soon be here. Young Americans who have participated in exchange programs sponsored by the Japanese government have come to cherish and appreciate Japan and its culture. I am always impressed by the amount of affection that Americans have for Japan when I think about the friendship between our two countries. With that in mind, I would like to share some news that I am sure will be as important to you as it is to me.
Since 1987, Japan has invited people from other countries to participate in the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program as Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) to teach English to students in elementary, middle and high school. Through this program, about 25,000 Americans have traveled to Japan in the last 24 years. Former participants use their experience with Japanese language and customs in various ways as they move forward in a range of fields. The common thread they share is a deep affection for Japan and its culture. As soon as the news that the JET program would be reviewed spread, former JETs responded quickly to defend the program. Calling the JET Program the foundation for Japan-US grassroots exchange, they also stressed the ways that its alumni organization continues to promote understanding of Japan and its culture for Americans.
During the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) USA National Conference in New York in August, the alumni summarized the importance and effectiveness of the JET program. In a press release entitled, "JET Program, JET Alumni Association Vital to the Future of U.S. - Japan Relations", the JETAA stated, "The JET Program and JETAA are crucial to Japan's international outreach and to increasing mutual understanding between Japan and the United States. JETAAUSA hopes that upon review the necessity and value of the JET Program and JETAA will be reaffirmed. Japan needs both JET and JETAA to continue building bridges between Japan and the United States."
I had many conversations with JET alumni during the conference and I was encouraged by the fact that so many of them spoke earnestly about how they became big fans of Japan through their participation in the JET program and its alumni activities. Even in Japan there are not many people who could express their deep love for Japan in such a straight forward manner. I truly hope that I will continue to have the opportunity to promote the JET Program, strengthen my ties with JETAA, and aid the program in the future.
Last chance to see the Samurai...
© Museum of the City of New York
With the beginning of fall comes the return to city-focused weekend activities including visits to museums and art galleries. Among the abundance of choices is one of the more interesting cultural and art exhibitions in New York City, Samurai in NY: the First Japanese Delegation in 1860 which has been held over by popular demand at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibition which started in June and continues to draw many curious New Yorkers has been extended to November 7. Those who haven't visited the exhibition yet will want to take advantage of this opportunity to view the fascinating series of photographs taken in 1860 capturing the of the NYC arrival of the first Japanese delegates to the U.S.
Highlighting the exhibition are photographs which showcase the Japanese diplomats' manner of dress including individual and group portraits of the delegates in samurai attire, rare 19th century woodblock prints, and early photographs made in Japan. Also on view are elegant and rare objects made of silver, ceramics, and pieces of jewelry.
Visitors to the museum can relive an exciting moment of New York City history when the mysterious and celebrated delegation from Japan set foot in the city for the first time. For anyone wishing to learn from an expert, Tom Burnett, a collector of 19th century Japanese photography will guide a tour of the exhibition on Sunday, September 26. The museum is also hosting programs for families. An energetic performance by Oyama x Nitta on the Tsugaru shamisen, a banjo-like instrument, is scheduled for Sunday, October 10, to entertain visitors with the sound of Japan. On Saturday, October 30, an origami workshop and Kabuki dance performance by Sachiyo Ito & Dance Japan is scheduled for families to experience Japanese culture.
In 1860, more than 70 Japanese diplomats embarked on the first Japanese voyage across the Pacific. This year marks the 150th anniversary of this extraordinarily historic event, which began the strong diplomatic and cultural relationship between the U.S. and Japan.
Samurai in NY will provide visitors with not only historical insights but also a more in-depth view into the importance of the beginning of the cultural dialogue which has resulted in a long lasting relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Before the Samurai exhibition leaves The Museum of the City of New York, visit and experience the excitement of this historic event that took place 150 years ago.
Visit Twelve Nations in One Day
The beauty of living in New York City is being able to experience a multitude of cultures without leaving the area. The 16th annual 92nd Street Y Street Festival on September 26 from 11am to 5:30pm on Lexington Avenue between 79th Street to 94th Street, offers an exceptional opportunity to spend an afternoon with your family learning about different countries and their cultures.
The festival will feature booths sponsored by twelve nations providing information, travel guidance and cultural offerings. The Japan booth, sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in New York, will feature "Dress like a Japanese Samurai", where adult men and women will be given the opportunity to try on samurai battle armor. One person every thirty minutes or about 10-12 adults will be able to participate. The event is being staged in conjunction with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the visit of the first Japanese delegation to NYC when samurai marched on Broadway.
Two stages will offer live entertainment throughout the day. On the Main Stage, there will be dance performances, singing, and music performed by international bands. The Wonderplay Stage will offer skits, songs, and games for children. And, for the first time, a greenmarket will be part of the Festival along with a number of food booths. There will also be a number of raffles for free trips, prizes and tickets.
Participating nations include Angola, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, India, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, and Turkey, plus the Museum of African Art in New York City.
Founded in 1874 by a group of Jewish leaders, the 92nd Street Y is an important cultural, educational, and community center. The organization presents notable lectures, performing arts and films as well as providing classes in the arts and humanities, workshops for children, teenagers, and parents, and health and fitness programs for people of all ages.
Visit the Upper East Side on September 26 to take advantage of 92nd Street Y's Festival and experience the world by sharing activities with family and friends.