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  • 20 Dec 2020 7:15 PM | Deleted user

    It is with a very heavy heart and deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved board member, Dr. Ezra Vogel on December 20, 2020.  Dr. Vogel was known and respected as the country's leading expert on East Asia.  His curiosity was endless, and his energy and discipline unmeasured.  As a deep and measured thinker, Dr. Vogel was a true scholar.  However, more importantly, he was a warm and deeply generous man who saw the good in every person and in every nation.  

    We offer our deepest condolences to his family, and to all his friends, students and colleagues in East Asia and around the globe.   Our thoughts and prayers go out to them at this very difficult and painful time.

  • 28 Jun 2020 6:12 PM | Deleted user

    We are very, very sad to announce the passing of our beloved board member and Chairman Emeritus, Dr. Vernon Alden on June 22, 2020.  Dr. Alden was known and respected as a "larger than life figure" internationally, nationally, across New England, and of course most especially in his hometown of Boston.  Wherever his professional life took him, his relationship with Japan always remained vitally important to him.  His admiration and love for Japan and the Japanese people was infectious, and having served as Chairman of the Japan Society of Boston for over 40 years, his dedication to furthering U.S.- Japan relations was truly remarkable.  This interview from Ohio University, where he was President from 1962 to 1969, captures Dr. Alden's incredible life. 

    We offer our deepest condolences to his family, and to his many friends and colleagues around the globe.   Our thoughts and prayers go out to them at this very difficult and painful time.

    Condolences should be sent to Dr Alden's son, James Alden, at 6 Brooks Hill Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.

  • 21 Sep 2019 9:00 AM | Anonymous

    It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Patricia Eileen (Gercik) Haseltine, retired Director of International Programs at MIT and a dear friend of the Japan Society of Boston.  Pat Gercik has been battling serious illness and passed away, Sept.17th.  

    The Memorial Service for Pat Gercik will be held in the Bigelow Chapel at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, Monday, September 23, 2019 at 12 noon.  Condolences should be sent to Pat's loving partner, John R. Low-Beer at jlowbeer@yahoo.com. 

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 20 Dec 2017 1:18 PM | Deleted user

    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.

  • 26 Jun 2017 4:33 PM | Deleted user

    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

  • 16 May 2017 10:54 AM | Deleted user

    Last week Ray Matsumiya visited the Japan Society of Boston to lead a Brown Bag discussion about how the University of the Middle East Project has been engaging global audiences in dialogue about Mid-East Peace. It was especially interesting to hear about the little-discussed impact that Japan has in contributing to peace in the Middle East.

    Ray spoke about how UME brought teachers from the United States over to Japan, where they learned from one of the last living Hibakusha (Atomic Bomb Survivors) who speaks fluent English. They met with mayors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with high school students to discuss how Japan's experience recovering from nuclear attacks can help people work for peace in the Middle East. We learned that in Middle Eastern countries, Japan has a reputation for being a first-rate example of pursuing peace after conflict.

    You can learn more about the University of the Middle East Project at  http://www.ume.org

    Each month on the 2nd Tuesday, our Brown Bag series invites you to have lunch and talk about Japan.

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