Thursday, April 25, 2013

JFLA Lecture Series/JFLAレクチャーシリーズ

Place: 5700 Wilshire Boulevard #100, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA

It has been almost 11 months since we moved to our new office on the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles and with our new location; we have been able to organize many more events that are open to the public. One of our most popular programs is our lecture series where we invite specialists in a field related to any aspect of Japan including, but not limited to, pop culture, gaming, politics, technology, research, traditional culture and food. Below is a list of all the lectures we have presented so far.

Lecture 1: Explore the World of GO/囲碁の世界を知ろう
Date:December 15, 2013/2013年12月15日

For our very first lecture, we invited Andrew Okun, President of American Go Association, to talk about the ancient board game of Go with some hands on gaming afterwards. Participants had an educational afternoon learning about the history and development of the game as well as basic instructions to play the game. This lecture was organized in collaboration with the American Go Association.

Lecture 2: Paro – The World’s Most Therapeutic Robot/パロ–世界で最もセラピー効果のあるロボット
Date: January 12th, 2013/2013年1月12日

For the second lecture, we invited Dr. Takanori Shibata, the creator of PARO, the world’s most therapeutic robot to talk about his invention and allow the guests to experience the comforting effects of the robotic baby harp seal. Dr. Shibata also discussed the advancements of robotics in Japan and the ways that the cutting edge technology is used to help in everyday lives.

Lecture 3: Restoration of Fukushima From 3.113月11日からの福島復興
Date January 24th, 2013/2013年1月24日

During the month of January, we had another lecture with Satoru Mimura from the Fukushima Future Center for Regional Revitalization at Fukushima University. He talked about his work to support the people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake by researching the effects of radiation caused by the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant. Based on his findings, he hopes to develop a plan to offer prospects in support of the restoration and rehabilitation of Fukushima. This event was co-organized by the Japan America Society of Southern California.

Lecture 4: Anime and Hollywood/アニメとハリウッド
Date: February 20th, 2013/2013年2月20日

The popularity of anime has had a long history in the United States and to introduce it to a young audience, we invited Roland Kelts, author of “Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.,” to discuss his views on Anime, its influences on Hollywood, and vice-versa. Keltz used many examples from his research to show the symbiotic relationship between American and Japanese culture. He was also on hand to sign copies of his book after the lecture.

Lecture 5: “Asian Voices” And the US Japan Relationship in 2013/「アジアの声」と2013年の米日関係
Date: March 1st, 2013/2013年3月1日

In March, we invited Aiko Doden, Senior News Commentator for Japan Broadcasting Corporation, to talk about many issues that have an effect on US Japan Relationship in 2013. This event was co-organized with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Young Professionals and as a result we had many youth leaders in attendance who were interested in the world affairs and making a positive contribution to society.
3月は、NHK解説委員の道傳愛子氏をお招きし、2013年の米日関係に影響する様々な事柄についてお話頂きました。このイベントはLos Angeles World Affairs Council and Young Professionalsとの共催で行われたため、世界情勢に関心を持ち、社会に貢献しているたくさんの若きリーダーたちにご出席頂けました。

Lecture 6: Bento – Japanese Culture in a Box/弁当–箱の中の日本文化
Date: April 8th, 2013/2013年4月8日

For our sixth lecture, we invited Debra Samuels, Boston Globe food writer, cooking instructor and author of the popular cookbook “My Japanese Table: A Lifetime of Cooking with Friends and Family” to talk about her inspiration and love for the Japanese bento (lunch box). The lecture was divided into three parts where Samuels described her time in Japan and how she was introduced to the art of Japanese cuisines, demonstrated how she prepares her food, and invited participants to assemble their own bentos using pre-made items. Everyone who attended received a gift bag with a maccha cupcake featuring Samuels’ recipe and a box of green tea courtesy of Takaokaya.
第6回目は、日刊新聞ボストン・グローブのフードライター、クッキングインストラクター、そして“My Japanese Table: A Lifetime of Cooking with Friends and Family”という人気のある料理本の著者デブラ・サミュエルズ氏をお招きし、日本のお弁当から彼女が得るインスピレーション、そしてその魅力についてお話頂きました。レクチャーは3つのパートに分けられ、まずサミュエルズ氏は、日本で過ごした日々について、そしてどのように日本食の美について教わったかを話され、その後お弁当の準備の仕方のデモンストレーションをしました。また、用意してあったお弁当用の食品を用いて、参加者に実際にそれぞれのお弁当を作ってもらいました。イベントの最後には、参加者は皆、高岡屋からご提供頂いた抹茶ボックスとサミュエル氏のレシピで作られた抹茶カップケーキの入ったギフトバッグを受け取っていました。

Lecture 7: Watch & Learn – Classical Japanese Dance and Make-Up/見て学ぼう–『日本舞踊と化粧』
Date: April 10th, 2013/2013年4月10日

We invited Masako Nishikawa and Kirk Nishikawa Dixon from the Nishikawa School of Classical Japanese Odori (Dance) to talk about what they do and demonstrate Traditional Japanese Theatre Make-Up. After the initial presentation covering the history of Nishikawa Ryu, Kirk fielded questions from the crowd while Masako demonstrated the intricacies of Japanese theatre costumes from the white makeup to the elaborate hairpiece and kimono. At the end of the lecture, everyone wanted to take pictures with Masako, who was fully dressed for Classical Japanese Odori.

Lecture 8: Curators’ View – Japanese Contemporary Photography/キュレーターズ・ビュー–『日本の現代写真』
Date: April 18th, 2013/2013年4月18日

Through the Japan Foundation’s Curator Exchange Program, Britt Salvesen, Curator and Head of the Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Amanda Maddox, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Getty Museum, had the opportunity to visit Japan and tour many contemporary art museums in Japan with a focus on photography. During this lecture, they shared their experiences from the trip as well as their new interest in Japanese photography and art.

The popularity of our lecture series has steadily grown during the past few months and we are currently in the process of organizing more lectures for the upcoming months. We will continue to present exciting and lively events here at JFLA that will appeal to all age groups and interests.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Musical delight in Sydney!/音楽の喜び in シドニー!



Following on from Sheila’s post, our branch too had a taste of musical delights like J-Rock!


Our first major event for 2013 saw listening series ‘Japan in Stereo' take flight.

Over five weeks, five guest presenters we invited to tell Australians more about J-music genres. Not only the well-known genres like Koto and Shamisen.

The genres we looked at were J-Rock, Onkyo-ha, Enka, Koto and Gagaku.

シドニーオフィスでの2013年の最初の大きなイベントは、「Japan in Stereo」という5週間に渡って、計5名の専門家ゲストをお招きし、琴や三味線などの有名なジャンルだけでなく、様々な日本の音楽(Jロック・音響派・演歌・琴・雅楽)についてオーストラリアの人々に語っていただく、というものでした。

What is ‘Gagaku/雅楽’ and ‘Onkyo-ha/音響派’? Ever heard of ‘Enka/演



I knew of Gagaku from a previous event however as Onkyo-ha, this was truly the first time to know it exists, let alone what it sounds like. Onkyo-ha is translated as Minimalist electro-acoustic improvisation. As our guest mentioned, not all artists like to use this title.

Guest speaker Oren Ambarchi, is a Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist who is insatiably curious about the possibilities of sound and resonance, and has collaborated with some of the foremost figures in Japan’s avant-garde Onkyo-ha scene.


f:id:japanfoundation:20130325154019j:image:left Onkyo-ha won’t be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but after listening to examples of Oren’s work and the explanations of the processes, I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the musical genre.


The other genre that intrigues me is Enka. The English translation is post-war pop and for those fans of Roy Orbinson out there, we think that’s a good Western equivalent to get a visual of what Enka is.

We were lucky enough to have Dr. Shelley Brunt as guest speaker who has studied the infamous New Year’s Eve ‘Red and White Song Contest’ in Japan for many years.

その他のジャンルで私が興味を引かれたのは演歌です。英語圏では、演歌は、「戦後の日本のポップミュージック」と訳されます。ロイ・オービソンのファンの方は、演歌の西洋バージョンがロイ・オービソン、と考えていただければイメージしやすいと思います。ゲストスピーカーには、日本ではとても有名な、大晦日の「紅白歌合戦」について長年研究しているShelley Brunt氏をお招きすることが出来、とてもラッキーでした。


Brunt explained how Enka is a genre that not many people outside of Japan know of. This is due to the fact that this musical style and the artists have a deep connection and profile to their hometowns, thus appealing to a Japanese audience is perfectly in-line.

I was surprised to see that Enka is very popular with younger audiences and artists too, not just the older generations. From gorgeously dressed women in kimonos to young hip men, it is a fascinating world.


Fun start to the year - stay tuned for what Sydney gets up to next!


Quick lessons in J-Rock and Uchusentai クイックレッスン:Jロック&UCHUSENTAI


My knowledge of J-Rock is close to zero. And even though JF Manila Library has quite a selection of J-Rock and J-Pop music, my exposure to Japanese music is mostly to traditional music or contemporary music using traditional instruments (i.e. taiko, shamisen and koto). When news came about that our office will going J-Rock this Nihongo Fiesta, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do (I didn’t know J-Rock and I clearly have no idea who Uchusentai: NOIZ was or what visual kei rock group looks like). Nihongo Fiesta (fiesta is a Spanish word for feast or party) is one of JF Manila’s yearly events that attract thousands of Filipinos of all ages to celebrate and participate in a weekend of Japanese language and art through activities such as speech contests, quiz bees and concerts. Since the 2013 Nihongo Fiesta was going to highlight the concert of Uchusentai, our office secretary was kind enough to email me the link to the group’s video “Narda” to educate me with the group’s music and over-all look.

私は、Jロックについてほとんど知りません。マニラ日本文化センターのライブラリーには、JロックやJポップのCDもありますが、私の場合、日本の音楽といえば伝統的な邦楽・邦楽器(太鼓、三味線、琴など)に触れる機会がほとんどでした。ですので、今回、Nihongo Fiesta(日本語フィエスタ)でJロックイベントを開催するというニュースを聞いたとき、たくさんキャッチアップしなくちゃいけないことがあるな、とすぐに思いました。(Jロック自体もあまり聞いたことがありませんでしたし、UCHUSENTAI: NOIZがどのようなグループなのか、「ビジュアル系」ロックグループとは何なのかも当初は想像がつかなかったのです。)Nihongo Fiesta(Fiestaはスペイン語で「宴会」・「パーティー」という意味)はマニラ日本文化センターが開催する年一回のイベントです。期間中は、数千人の老若男女のフィリピン人が集まり、スピーチコンテスト・クイズ・コンサートなどを通して日本語や日本のアートに浸かる週末を過ごします。2013年のハイライトはUCHUSENTAIのコンサートなので、オフィススタッフが詳しくない私のために親切に、彼らのミュージックビデオ“Narda”の動画のリンクをEメールで送ってくれました。


Lesson 1: The Look

At first glance, the group reminded me of the American rock band KISS because of the make-up and the flamboyant outfits. Apparently this is what the Japanese movement “visual kei” is: the use of make-up, elaborate hairstyles and flamboyant costumes. And Uchusentai is one the popular visual kei bands of Japan.


UCHUSENTAI: NOIZを最初に見た時、そのメイクと派手な衣装からアメリカのロックバンドKISSを思い出しました。メイクアップ、独特なヘアスタイル、そして派手な衣装。これが日本の「ビジュアル系」のスタイルなのでしょう。そして、UCHUSENTAIは人気のあるビジュアル系バンドの一つです。

Lesson 2: The Music

The first video of NOIZ that I saw was their video the Filipino rock song “Narda”. I was surprised, their version was pretty good. No wonder it became a big hit with the Filipinos. Their music style is not what I expected; I thought I would hear be a lot of screaming/noise (in Japanese of course) but their music is rather pleasant. Not the sound I was imaging based on their look.

With only 2 weeks to go before the Uchusentai: NOIZ concert, our office is finalizing all the logistical requirements for the event. I have been updating my checklist little by little at the same time listening to their music and watching their videos from last year’s “Best of Anime” to better prepare myself for the concert. Now that I have an idea on what they look like and what they sound, I think I am ready for the concert. The only thing I need to do now is prepare for the big crowd… that I think will be Lesson 3: The Crowd.




2週間後にUchusentai: NOIZのコンサートを控え、オフィスではロジの最終調整に入っています。私も担当部分のチェックを少しずつ進めながら、彼らの曲を聴いたり、昨年のBest of Animeのビデオを見ながらコンサートの準備を少しずつ進めています。その甲斐あって、今では彼らの見た目や曲のスタイルが分かってきて、いよいよ当日に向けての準備が整ってきたと思います。あともう一つだけ、事前にしなくてはいけないことは、大群衆対策です。これについては次のレッスン3:人込みでご説明します。