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  • 23 May 2019 10:29 AM | Anonymous

    Since 1875 when Emperor Meiji established the Order of the Rising Sun, or 旭日賞 (kyokujitsu), Japan has honored global citizens for their distinguished achievements and their contributions to Japan. This year, five individuals from the Boston area have been awarded. In this new Reiwa era, this is a special honor indeed. At JSB, we are thrilled that two awardees are members of our board of directors.

    William W. Hunt will receive The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (旭日小綬章). Our current Chair of the Board, Mr. Hunt has been dedicated to the US/Japan friendship for many years. In the official award announcement, Mr. Hunt is cited “for an enormous contribution to enriching understanding and communication between Japan and the United States.” Hunt has lived and worked in Japan, especially in investment management, and has been a leader in many projects to bring Japan to Boston.

    Keiko Thayer will receive The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays (旭日双光章). Ms. Thayer is a long-time board member of the Japan Society of Boston (since 1987) and a professional Ikebana Master. Ms. Thayer is cited for “promoting Japanese culture and cultural exchange between Japan and the United States.” The Society gives an annual award for cultural exchange named for Ms. Thayer’s late husband, John E. Thayer III.

    It is also notable that Ashton B. Carter, former Secretary of Defense (2015-2017) under President Barack Obama, will receive the highest degree: Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon (旭日大綬章), for his work building the US-Japan security alliance. Carter is currently Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

    Keiko Matsudo Orrall, a former Republican Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, will receive The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays (旭日双光章). As the daughter of Japanese, German, and Irish immigrants, she worked to help Japanese and other groups to have a voice in the State, and to strengthen ties between the US and Japan. Ms. Orrall is now the executive director of the State Office of Travel and Tourism.

    John Paul Holdren, former director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy and senior advisor to President Barack Obama (2009-2017), will receive The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star (旭日重光章). Holdren was cited for “advancing the cooperation in science and technology fields between Japan and the United States.” He continues to dedicate himself to studying environmental changes, energy technology and policies, and nuclear energy and weapons.

    The Japan Society of Boston congratulates these remarkable individuals as they are decorated by the Emperor and government of Japan. We are all inspired by their efforts to make the world stronger by strengthening the US/Japan friendship and alliance. 

  • 21 Dec 2018 1:34 PM | Anonymous member

    Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater Presented by Japan Society, Inc. Featuring  Kuruma Ningyo puppetry master Nishikawa Koryu V 

    Jewett Auditorium

    Tuesday March 5, 2019, 6:00 PM 

    Boston, MA: On March 5th, the Japan Society of Boston presents Nishikawa Koryu V, the fifth grand master of the Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater, performing three female-centered stories from classic Japanese literature. The 70-minute program will offer audiences the rare opportunity to experience a full-scale production of kuruma ningyo puppetry with chanting and live shamisen music from premier performers of the kuruma ningyo and gidayu traditions. 

    The Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet theater group has been in the family of the founder of the kuruma ningyo style of puppetry since its invention. Kuruma ningyo is a unique style of puppetry, which developed in Japan in the 19th century in the Hachioji area of Tokyo. Artists perform, while sitting on a small wooden box with wheels (or, rokuro kuruma). Unlike the more widely known style of Japanese puppetry known as bunraku, which requires three standing puppeteers to manipulate a single puppet, the use of the rokuro kuruma allows a single puppeteer to manage one puppet. This innovation allows for more dynamic performances, as the performer can move flexibly and in unison with the puppet.  

    Master of vocal performance, Takemoto Koshiko, will accompany the puppetry with live gidayu music, named after Takemoto Gidayu (1651 – 1714) who created the style. Takemoto Koshiko will provide the voices of the protagonists as well as the narrator’s voice. Gidayu narration long played an integral part in Japanese all-male bunraku puppet performances with female performers collaborating with kuruma ningyo groups starting in the 1950’s. Among narrative styles, gidayu stands out as one of the most famous and perhaps most demanding as the narrator plays all parts of the play. Gidayu calls for such a vocally taxing range of tone and expression that performers often switch halfway through a scene.  

    The performances will depict a range of love felt by the female characters from love to sadness both intense and comical. The program opens with Yugao, a new work from Nishikawa based on a story from The Tale of Genji, in which the jealous spirit of one of Genji’s lovers comes to possess a young woman he is courting, followed by Kuzunoha, which depicts a mother’s unwavering love for her child. Tsuri On’na, a comical piece about “fishing” for a wife, closes the program on a lighthearted note.  

    Nishikawa Koryu V – Puppet Master 

    Born and raised into the world of traditional Japanese puppetry, Nishikawa Koryu V began studying kuruma ningyo when he was thirteen years old. Carrying on the name of the late-19th century performer who developed this innovative style of puppetry, Nishikawa Koryu V is the fifth-generation headmaster of the Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater group. In 1996, the group was designated an Intangible Folk Custom Cultural Asset by the Japanese government. 

    Takemoto Koshiko - Chanter 

    Takemoto Koshiko apprenticed under Koshimichi Takemoto, who now serves as chairman of the Gidayu Bushi Preservation Association, the main professional gidayu organization in Japan. She made her debut performance at Ueno Honmokutei, a theater in Japan which is regarded by many as a monument to traditional performing arts in Japan. She received the Geidankyo New-face Encouragement Award in 1976. She helped organize a joruri music concert in France, one of the first times that this kind of concert was held abroad. In 2000, she was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Property for gidayu-bushi by the government of Japan. 

    The two masters will be joined by associates Tsuruzawa Yaya and Tsuruzawa Sansuzu playing the shamisen, and additional puppeteers Nishikawa Ryuji IV, Nishikawa Ryusha, Nishikawa Ryuki, Nishikawa Ryukei, and Nishikawa Yoshiteru.

    The performance will be held in the Jewett Auditorium of Wellesley College at 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02481. The performance will be in Japanese with English projected supertitles. Admission is $45 for General, $30 for JSB Members, $15 for Students and Young Adults, and free for members of the Wellesley College community. Tickets available online. 

    Image: Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater © Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater.

    The North American tour of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater is produced and organized by Japan Society, Inc. Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater is supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal year 2018, The JEC Fund, and The Jim Henson Foundation.


  • 17 Oct 2018 2:21 PM | Anonymous member


    For the first time since being founded 23 years ago, the Japanese theater group CALL will come to Boston to make its American performance debut. The group consists of working Japanese mothers, 20 altogether. From November 6th to 10th the group will conduct performances of the play "Three Lucky Charms," an adaptation of a Japanese folktale written by Julia Yermakov. In Boston, CALL will perform at BB&N, Boys and Girls Club of Boston, Arlington Public School and Boston Japanese Language School.

    The play "Three Lucky Charms" will be presented using colorful and humorous puppets, some standing over 3 feet in height. The voices for the puppets, as well as sound effects, are all produced in front of the audience, allowing the audience members to enjoy the raw emotions and expressions of the voice actors. Plus, audience members will get an inside glimpse into how such voices and sound effects are produced. The play is accompanied by live keyboard music, which helps create the atmosphere of Japan. Throughout the show, audience members will be invited to sing along with the characters and will be guided in chanting Japanese expressions. The Boston production will include a special prologue, introducing the Japanese folding fan and its use in traditional Japanese performance arts like kabuki. 

    Julia Yermakov, Writer 

    “Three Lucky Charms” is an original adaptation of a Japanese folktale written by Julia Yermakov who was born in San Francisco, brought up in Tokyo, and educated at the International School of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo. Her acting career began at Tokyo Disneyland as opening cast, and since then she has starred in plays and musicals in the Tokyo area. In 1984 she was a bilingual reporter for NTV Japanese TV network reporting the summer Olympics from LA, and subsequently reported from around the world with different TV programs using her bilingual skills. She became a freelance narrator and voice actor in 1992. Since 2003 she has become a member of Theater Group CALL, writing, directing, designing props and acting in their plays. 

    Jun Takahashi, Producer 

    The producer is Junichi Takahashi, born and raised in Osaka and China. Studied Kabuki, Shakespeare and Comedia del Arte at Waseda and attended UCLA Film School on Fulbright scholarship. Produced over 200 theatrical and television movies in 10 yearsat Daiei Movie Studio as a line producer.  Then he became an independent produce-casting director to work for foreign films shot in Japan and for domestic movies and TV films as well as casting, directing and producing for domestic/International films for over three decades. In the past 10 years he’s enjoyed acting for children as an amateur.

  • 02 May 2018 12:52 PM | Jessie

    The postcards are in for the 2017-2018 World Children's Haiku Contest! This year's theme was "Living Things."

    Luka Sato, age 15Imogen Nagle, age 15

    This contest, open to children around the world ages 15 and under, is organized by the JAL Foundation as one of the ways that they encourage international exchange. Every two years, children are invited to submit a haiku and a drawing, and the grand-prize winning works are published in the picture book anthology "Haiku by World Children." So far over 680,000 poems have been submitted from 52 countries and regions around the world. "It is our wish," says a statement from JAL Foundation, "to spread the joy of creating haiku to children around the world, nurture their sensitivity, deepen their understanding of Japan and Japanese culture, which gave birth to haiku, and promote international exchanges."

    Ryoma Yoshida, age 14Valery Ochoa, age 15Felicity Zhang, age 11

    The Haiku form of poetry is marked by "short descriptive verse, [which] captures a moment in the poet's life, or simply expresses the beauty of nature." (JAL Foundation)

    The contest is sponsored by Japan Airlines, in cooperation with Haiku International Association, Pentel, Gakken, and with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan, Japan Foundation, and Japan Committee for UNICEF.

    Maureen Shea, age 14Tamaki Izawa, age 8Sora Kikuchi, age 13

  • 12 Mar 2018 2:30 PM | Jessie
    “Cherry Blossoms, cherry blossoms.
    Across March skies
    As far as you can see.

    Mists or clouds?

    Their fragrance is floating.

    Let us go, let us go

                               It’s a must to see!”

    Hello Japan Society Boston members!  My name is Angelica Sincavage, I am a graduate of Stonehill College, and this past year I completed a year of National Service with AmerCorps teaching English and Math in an afterschool program in South Boston.  I am very interested in the Japanese system of education and recently obtained my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification.  I hope to travel to Japan someday to teach English there.  I am interested in all things educational and cultural involving Japan.  Next month I will be representing Massachusetts at the “2018 Cherry Blossom Princess Program” in Washington, D.C.

    Sponsored by the National Conference of State Societies, this annual event welcomes young women between the ages of 19 and 24 “selected for their leadership, academic achievements, and interest in social, civic, community and world affairs” who travel to Washington to participate in Japanese-American cultural, educational, philanthropic, and leadership activities.  Highlights of the week include the Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony, the Cherry Blossom Congressional Reception, the Delegates’ Celebration of States, the National Cherry Blossom Parade down Constitution Avenue, the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, and of course the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball and Sushi Reception where a spin of the wheel of fortune will determine which Princess will be crowned “2018 United States National Cherry Blossom Queen.”  It is the chance of  a lifetime for a young woman who as an American ambassador will have the opportunity to travel to Japan to meet with dignitaries and others to help pave the way renewing ongoing relationships between our two countries and fostering connections with a new generation. 

    I am reaching out to Japan Society of Boston friends and members to see if anyone might be willing to help me raise funds towards the $500 registration fee required to participate in the event.  Every donation no matter how modest will be cherished and appreciated.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.   –Angelica
    Click here to support Angelica's journey

  • 20 Dec 2017 1:18 PM | Jessie

    On November 28th, I wore Juunihitoe for the first time in my life. Juunihitoe is a Japanese traditional kimono for imperial people. In English, Juunihitoe means 'twelve kimonos for one person.'

    Putting on the wigBefore I wore Juunihitoe, I only knew that it was worn by people of high rank in the Heian era. And I just felt I am so lucky because I am sure I can’t wear or see Juunihitoe in Japan. But once I started wearing Juunihitoe, I was so surprised by its weight. It was about 40 pounds, including a wig. The wig alone was about 6 pounds and longer than me, so I got a headache. It was heavier than I expected, and I thought I couldn't keep standing. I couldn't even raise my hands after the third layer because of kimono's weight. While wearing Juunihitoe, honestly speaking, I regretted accepting the offer to model it a little bit because it was so hard.  

    But when I finished dressing, I was really glad and proud of myself. Guests at the event looked so excited and interested in Juunihitoe, so I was so happy. Through this event, I was able to learn a lot more about Juunihitoe than I learnt in Japanese class in Japan. Like each layer’s colors have different meanings, people of high rank in the Heian era put it on daily and wore it even when they were sleeping, and they walked with their knees because Juunihitoe is very heavy.

    Before I dressed in Juunihitoe, I just thought I was so lucky and excited. But after that, I feel I love Japan more than before. I didn't imagine that I could wear Juunihitoe in the US. It was one of the most precious experience in my life, so it's going to be a good memory even though I caught a cold after the Juunihitoe event. Thank you Japan Society of Boston and Kyoto Costume Museum for giving me such a wonderful experience. And thank you all who attended this event.

    Wearing all layers of the Juunihitoe

    Women who wore Juunihitoe often covered their faces with fans









    -Honoka Kitaura, Japan Society of Boston Intern

  • 18 Oct 2017 10:32 AM | JSB (Administrator)

    We are sad to announce the passing of distinguished sculptor and Japan Society of Boston board member, Ikuko Burns. Ikuko had been battling cancer and serious illness for the past several months and passed away Sunday, October 8 at her home in Brookline, surrounded by her loving family. 

    It is difficult to find the words to express how beloved she was, to all of us at the Japan Society of Boston and throughout the wider community. Her efforts to strengthen the ties between Boston and Japan are the stuff of legends, and there are few that we have known with the passion, dedication, and kindness of Ikuko Burns. She loved creating and building bonds of friendship between the people of New England and Japan, and she was truly exceptional at doing so. Her many years of bridging the two cultures had given her a special sensitivity and understanding which we were able to witness first hand on many occasions, as she delicately applied her guidance, wisdom, and boundless energy to often challenging situations and circumstances. She was a mentor to many, a wonderful friend to all, and will be deeply and sorely missed.

    The Memorial Service Celebration of Life for Ikuko Burns will be held at Showa's Rainbow Hall at 420 Pond Street in Boston on Saturday the 6th of January, 2018 at 12PM.

  • 01 Aug 2017 4:36 PM | Jessie

    On August 20, The Japan Society of Boston welcomes Boston's own 1st dan karuta player and instructor: Kyoko Hiromoto. Ms. Hiromoto will instruct and help us try our hand at this ancient game that is surging in popularity. This article is to give you a brief overview - before you go. 

    Karuta, the Japanese card-playing game, has a long history dating back to the mid-16th century. The basic idea is to grab the correct card as quickly as possible before an opponent does. There are various ways of playing karuta, and one type of commonly used card set is called uta-garuta. In uta-garuta, players need to find the Uta-garuta cardssecond half of a Japanese poem (“waka”) when the first half is given. Competitive karuta is an official game that uses uta-garuta to play. There are one hundred poems from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a classical Japanese waka collection by one hundred different poets. The rules vary by region, but it is generally a one-on-one game facilitated by a poem reader and a judge. People of all ages can enjoy this game, and it recently started to attract international players as well.

    Karuta mixes the excitement of pitting lightning reflexes in one-on-one contest, with the challenge of memorizing beautiful poems of ancient Japan. When the poem reader begins to read a poem, the best players win by swiping the matching card in milliseconds, often before the first syllable is complete. 

    In Japan, karuta is usually played on New Year’s Day, and the game is a symbol of the Japanese New Year. Since the 1950s, the All Japan Karuta Association has held official tournaments for players to reach higher ranking groups and classes. Although professional karuta players are rare, Japanese people regard karuta playing as a tradition. Many Japanese children start to play at young ages, and the game gifts them with better memory and reaction speed. In addition, karuta has made appearances in pop culture. Several dramas, anime and manga depict stories about competitive karuta. Chihayafuru is one such manga series that follows a group of high school players, and is credited as increasing the popularity of competitive karuta.

    click here to view the women's championship match from 2017

    Written by Yechen Xu, JSB Intern 2017

  • 31 Jul 2017 12:28 PM | Jessie


    The Japan Society of Boston is growing, and looking for a skilled membership manager to join our staff. If you would like to join our team and help us expand our network of Boston/Japan connections, friendships, and projects, please introduce yourself to us! 

    Full details here.

    Submit your resume and cover letter, describing your background and what you think you can contribute to our JSB member community, by email to:​

    mattkrebs@japansocietyboston.org

    The application deadline is August 30, 2017. The position is expected to begin by September 18, 2017.

    The Japan Society of Boston is an equal opportunity employer.

  • 26 Jun 2017 4:33 PM | Jessie

    From June 15 to July 7, 2017, the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination is being held in New York, NY. The purpose of the conference is to reflect “the overwhelming interest of the international community in advancing progress toward nuclear disarmament [and] to contribute further to nuclear disarmament by strengthening, reinforcing and consolidating international norms against nuclear weapons, as an interim step pending their total elimination.” (Source)


     











    As part of this conference, there was a special screening of Paper Lanterns, a documentary directed by Barry Frechette and produced by the Japan Society of Boston's President Emeritus Peter Grilli. Paper Lanterns is the true story of Shigeaki Mori, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, who spent over 35 years documenting the stories and tracking down the families of the 12 American POWs killed by the same bomb.













    On the day of the screening, many events took place relating to the 1945 atomic bombing in Japan, some with Hibakusha, survivors or the atomic bombs, in attendance. Through the presence of the Hibakusha, and the screening of the film, the people with the ability to change the nuclear weapons policy could feel a personal connection to what they were discussing, and in this way the topic became real and tangible.

    photos by Yukako Ibuki

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