Category Archives: Arts & Culture

TOHOKU – Through the Eyes of the Japanese Photographers

The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) in cooperation with the National Museum of the Philippines, the Embassy of Japan and The Photographic Society of Japan brings to Manila the traveling exhibit TOHOKU Through the Eyes of the Japanese Photographers, an exhibition composed of 123 photos representing the different aspects of life in Tohoku from its past, present and the future.

The Tohoku Region is the northeastern section of Honshu, the largest island in Japan.  It is divided into six (6) prefectures:  Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima.  The region is blessed with a beautiful and abundant natural environment of seas, mountains, rivers and forest.  On March 11, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 hit Japan and the worst damaged was concentrated in the region.  The media coverage of the destruction made many people familiar with the names of Tohoku cities and prefectures, but few are likely to have a broad knowledge of other aspects of the region.

The exhibition is composed of works by nine (9) photographers and one (1) photographers’ group:  Teisuke Chiba, Ichiro Kojima, Hideo Haga, Masatoshi Naito, Masaru Tatsuki, Hiroshi Oshima, Naoya Hatakeyama, Meiki Rin, Nao Tsuda and the group led by Toru Ito.  Curated by Kotaro Iizawa, a recognized photography critic in Japan, the exhibit showcases the natural and cultural backdrop of Tohoku as well as its people and their way of life.  Photographs taken in the early 50s and 60s are presented together with photos of the present Tohoku to illustrate the varied points of view and generation of each individual photographer.

Statue of Osawabutsu, Ourani Sanou Koujin, Dewa Sanzan 1981-82

Statue of Osawabutsu, Ourani Sanou Koujin, Dewa Sanzan                1981-82 by Masatoshi Naito

Driving off Sparrows, Kitsunezaka, Taiyu Village  1943 by Teisule Chiba

Driving off Sparrows, Kitsunezaka, Taiyu Village 1943 by Teisuke Chiba

“TOHOKUThrough the Eyes of the Japanese Photographers” will be on public view at the Gallery XVIII, Old Legislative Building at the National Museum from January 30 to March 17, 2013.  An Art Talk from Mr. Kotaro Iizawa and Mr. Nao Tsuda will be held on March 9 (Saturday).  Film screenings will also be held during the exhibition run.

The National Museum is located at Padre Burgos Avenue, Manila. The museum is open every Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The exhibition is part of the celebration of the Japan-ASEAN 40th Friendship Year.  For inquiries, please contact the Japan Foundation, Manila at telephone numbers (02) 811~6155 to 58 or or visit


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Takahashi lecture on Japanese Design

The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) in cooperation with the YuchengcoMuseum is bringing to Manila Ms. Hiroko Takahashi, one of Japan’s up and coming artist/designer for a one day lecture on Japanese Design on November 24 (Saturday) 10:00 am at the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City.

TAKAHASHI Hiroko (1977) is a Fashion Design Major graduate of the Saitama Prefecture Niiza Comprehensive Technical High School.  She studied dyeing at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music where she finished her masters in 2002.  In 2003, she re-enrolled in the university for her doctorate and worked as an artist at The Cité Internationale des Arts upon the invitation of the AFAA of French Ministries of Foreign Affairs in 2005.  After successfully holding two exhibitions in Paris, she returned to Japan in 2006 to establish her original brand, HIROCOLEDGE.  In March 2008, Hiroko received her Doctorate in Fine Arts.

The signature feature of Takahashi’s HIROCOLEDGE is its eye-catching, graphical patterns composed only of dots and straight lines.  Using various materials and techniques like chusen (the Japanese traditional dyeing method), Takahashi’s patterns are expressed on the traditional form of Japanese clothing such as kimono, obi sashes, yukata, tenugui, t-shirts and other items.  She has also collaborated with artisans and craftsmen to create new product designs for lamps and other home furnishings.

Hiroko Takahashi’s lecture will focus on the use of modern product design principles in traditional Japanese crafts. The lecture is part of YuchengcoMuseum’s “Design as Art” theme under their 2012 Culture and Development Program.  A short workshop on origami will also be held after the lecture.

For inquiries, please contact the Japan Foundation, Manila at telephone numbers (02) 811~6155 to 58; or the Yuchengco Museum at telephone number (02) 889~1234; The YuchengcoMuseum is located at the RCBCPlaza, Ayala Avenue corner Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City.

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The Friendship Month

July is probably one of our busiest months in JFM.  Besides the day to day activities, the office was also busy with the events for the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month.  One of the most anticipated events during July is the Eiga Sai (Japanese Film Festival). This year’s opening film was “Akunin” (Villain).  Choosing the opening film for this year’s film festival became a big challenge for the office; “Departures” last year was such a huge success that we knew we had to have an equally powerful film to open the festival.  And we weren’t wrong; the film was well applauded and was the perfect opening for the month-long celebration.

The next event in our Friendship Month calendar was the traveling exhibit, Sharaku Interpreted by Japan’s Contemporary Artists. The exhibit was a fascinating mixture of Sharaku inspired original works from the Japanese contemporary artists and the Sharaku reproductions by the Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints. The audience was not only treated to works that have fascinated a lot of people from other countries but they also got the chance to do some art through Tsuyoshi Ozawa’s “Sharaku Work”.  The audience was provided with postcards with drawings made by the audience from other countries and a blank postcard; they were then asked to draw the face of their favorite person.  These postcards were then placed inside envelops which will be brought to the next country that the exhibit will visit.  It was quite amusing to see the guests concentrate on doing their drawings and seeing the look of joy (or is it misery) at their finished masterpieces.

H.E. Amb. Urabe and other guests during the Sharaku Exhibit Opening at the Ayala Museum (9 July)

Guests drawing their favorite persons

Another event that we had last July was the Aki & Kuniko Concerts and Workshops.  We were very lucky to have the acoustic duo back in Manila not just to perform and wow the Filipino audience with their exquisite music but to also share their craft, experience and love for music through their workshops.  The duo was able to give the students a peek at how they were able to combine koto and guitar to create music that is distinctively Aki & Kuniko.  After 3 cities, 5 concerts, 2 workshops and endless hours of traveling (and waiting in airports), the project was indeed exhausting but like all events, the welcome and applause given to our artists, the interest that the students showed during the workshops and the feedback that we received after and makes all the work (and traveling) worth it.

Students of the UP College of Music during the Aki & Kuniko Workshop (13 July)

Kuniko san with koto students Marvin and Lian

Aki & Kuniko Concert in Conspiracy Garden Cafe (14 July)

Workshop at the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City (17 July)

Aki & Kuniko Concert in Jazz n’ bluz, Cebu City (20 July)



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Another night of exquisite music with Aki & Kuniko

The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM), in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, UP College of Music, University of the Cordilleras, Jazz n’ bluz Bar and Restaurant and Ayala Center Cebu is pleased to announce the return of one of Japan’s best guitar and koto duo, Aki & Kuniko this July for a series of shows to celebrate the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month.

Formed in 2002, Aki & Kuniko has come to be known for its originality and musical sophistication. The music produced by Hiroaki Sasaki and Kuniko Obina has had unmatched impact, bringing the listener into an extraordinary world.  The two string instruments play against each other furiously in one moment, and change to delicate heartrending murmurs in the next.  Their melody reminds us of what modern man has begun to forget.

The Aki & Kuniko concerts will be held on 13 July (Friday), 6:30 p.m. at the Abelardo Hall at the UP College of Music, Diliman, Quezon City; 14 July (Saturday), 9:00 p.m. at the Conspiracy Garden Café in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City; 16 July (Thursday), 6:00 p.m. at the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio City; 20 July (Friday), 8:45 p.m. at the Jazz n’ bluz Bar and Restaurant in Cebu City; and, on 21 July (Saturday), 4:00 p.m. at the Ayala Center in Cebu.

Other events for the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month are:  2012 Eiga Sai, Japanese Film Festival which will be held from July 5 until August 21 in Manila, Davao and Cebu; the exhibit Sharaku Interpreted by Japan’s Contemporary Artist, a traveling exhibit featuring works of contemporary artists inspired by Toshusai Sharaku, the foremost master of ukiyo-e prints and reproductions of Sharaku bust portraits which will be on view at the Ground Floor of the Ayala Museum in Makati from July 10 to September 9, 2012; the 2012 JPOP Anime Singing Contest and Mini-Cosplay Contest, Le Velvets Concert and the Anime Film Showing which will all be held at the SM Mall of Asia on July 21-22, 2012.   All events are open to the public free of charge.  For inquiries and details, please contact the JFM through telephone numbers (+632) 811-6155 to 58 or visit the website at .

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Japanese Trio brings “Sound Fusion” to Manila

The Japan Foundation, Manila (JFM) is bringing once again to Manilaa different kind of musical show featuring the Japanese trio, Trinity on November 16 (Wednesday), 7:30 pm at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at the RCBC Plaza, MakatiCity.

A number of inspiring joint improvisation and collaboration performances with Kei Wada and Miki Maruta led Chikudo Takahashi — the last apprentice of renowned master Chikuzan Takahashi, who established and spread the solo playing style of Tsugaru shamisen (traditional Japanese music instrument) — into forming the trio “Trinity” in 2006.  Experienced percussionist Wada enjoys collaboration work with artists from various musical genres, while also engaging in the direction and production of play accompaniments. Well-established Koto player Maruta handles a broad range of different music, from classical to contemporary, while Takahashi collaborates with a wide range of musicians, and boasts a reputation as a talented Tsugaru shamisen,Okinawasanshin and kokyu (Chinese fiddle) performer.

From Tsugaru folk songs, Asian and European music to the Beatles’ classics, Trinity’s new and uniquely arranged musical performance will surely be another treat for music aficionados.

“Sound Fusion” will also feature Japanese singer, Taiko Matsumuto and Filipino group, Bandang Malaya.

A mini concert will also be held on November 17 (Thursday), 4:00 pm at the William Shaw Theater in De La Salle University – Manila.

The event is free admission.  For inquiries and reservations, please contact the Japan Foundation, Manilathrough telephone numbers 811~6155 to 58, or, or visit the website at

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Rap in Tondo is back!

The Goethe-Institut Philippinen, the Alliance Française de Manille, and the Japan Foundation Manila together with its partner, the ABS-CBN Foundation, present Rap in Tondo 2, a workshop for local Filipino rap and hip-hop artists. The workshop will take place from 16-21 May 2011 at the Museo Pambata (Roxas Boulevard corner South Drive) in Manila and from 22-25 May 2011 at Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (Angliongto Ave., Lanang, Davao City) in Davao. The workshop aims to train local Filipino rap and hip-hop artists in teaching the art to young rappers and hip-hoppers promoting rap and hip-hop in the country.

Rap in Tondo 2 is an expansion of a workshop series which started in 2010. The aim of the workshop’s expansion is to reach local rappers and hip-hoppers in the Philippine provinces which boast a vibrant rap and hip-hop scene. This expansion would be facilitated by rap and hip-hop artists from Manila who participated in workshops with German, French and Japanese partners and local Filipino rap and hip-hop artists. Mr. Jim Libiran, a Filipino film producer, recommends integrating the project into the peace movement in Mindanao.

Since 2010, Filipino rap and hip-hop group Tondo Tribe and German-French rap and hip-hop group Les Coudes Productions have been continuously coordinating and working on strengthening cooperation in the international hip-hop scene.

This year, the following German-French rap and hip-hop artist will become a part of Rap in Tondo 2 – MC Narco aka DJ Joe Kanga (Achille Dipita Toube), THE P.A.T (Ndongmo Tapondjou Patrick Bernard), and MICHEL aka FLY (Michél Andres Figueredo Hernandez).

Three (3) artists from Tondo — Shielbert Manuel, Filemon Dionisio, and Restly Perez – will also participate in the workshops. Shielbert Manuel performs and composes his own songs which can be heard and viewed on the internet via YouTube and/or Facebook. He is also involved in socio-cultural projects and programs, and organizes fundraising concerts with the youth. Filemon Dionisio and Restly Perez produced together with their band an album entitled “Human Rights”. Restly also composes songs which can be heard and viewed on YouTube and/or Facebook.

This year, the Japan Foundation Manila invited OMIYUKI CHANNEL to participate in Rap in Tondo 2. OMIYUKI CHANNEL is a producer duo consisting of Young-G and BigBen. The duo utilizes traditional Japanese musical instruments blending it with the latest music technology and instruments producing an eclectic sound. OMIYUKI CHANNEL has produced songs for Japanese and international artists.

The grand culminating concert of Rap in Tondo 2 will take place at B-Side (The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., San Antonio Village, Makati City) on Thursday, 26 May 2011 at 9:00 P.M. This special international rap and hip-hop concert will feature all the artists involved in the project since 2010.

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Curatorial Cs

Last January 27-28, the Japan Foundation, Manila together with the UP Vargas Museum gathered together young curators for the Curatorial Development Program Workshop.    The call for proposals brought in 21 curatorial proposals ranging from food, architecture, art education to effigy.  The two-day workshop was filled with stories from the past via the curatorial scenes from the “curator since the 70’s”, Marian Pastor Roces and from the “curator since the 80’s”, Cora Alvina; case studies from curators Mitzi Icasiano, Yeyey Cruz and Prof. May Datuin; and discussions from Karen Flores, Eileen Legaspi Ramirez, Prof. May Datuin and Dr. Patrick Flores.

Dr. Patrick Flores


Ms. Marian Pastor Roces & Ms. Cora Alvina


Dr. Patrick Flores, Ms. Yeyey Cruz & Ms. Eileen Legaspi Ramirez

The discussions were informative, complex and even entertaining sometimes.  Questions were asked, issues were raised and even new terms “created” like the now famous “curatorial c” (as in curatorial confidence, conceit, etc.).    20 minutes were given to each participant to present their proposal and answer questions both from the mentors and their co-participant.

For an observer like me, it was interesting to hear the proposals for new exhibitions.  I have one time in my life thought of being a curator (I have actually worked as a curatorial assistant in NCCA years ago) so the comments and advice of the mentors did not only benefit the young curators but it also helped me.  While some of the concepts were well thought off and would just need the funding to have it realized, there were a few ideas that still needed some tweaking to actually make it work.  It was noticeable that some proposals could easily be incorporated with each other to make a new exhibit all together.

Mr. Bogie Ruiz


the participants


the mentors

the presentation

While the workshop was geared towards curatorial development, it was also a venue to select a participant for the JENESYS Program.  Only 1 out of the 21 curators will be selected for this program, as for the rest I’m sure we’ll see their works in one of the museums or galleries around.

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