Home > News > “Kokoro: The Heart of Japan” Public Symposium and Concert on March 6

“Kokoro: The Heart of Japan” Public Symposium and Concert on March 6

January 27, 2012


Print ThisPrint This

Rebuilding through Song: Japan’s Response to the March 2011 Disaster



"Kokoro: The Heart of Japan" public symposium and choral concert will be held on March 6 at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center on the first anniversary of the March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The event is being hosted by the Tokyo Foundation in collaboration with the Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University.

Madoka Mayuzumi, right, and Akira Senju
Madoka Mayuzumi, right, and Akira Senju
March 11, 2012, will mark the first anniversary of the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated northern Japan and caused one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history. The March 6 symposium and choral concert will be an opportunity to reflect on Japan’s response to the disaster, with reference to various aspects of Japan’s traditional culture, particularly haiku, that offer deep insights into the emotional experience of the survivors.

Madoka Mayuzumi, one of Japan’s leading contemporary haiku poets, will introduce poems composed by the survivors themselves. She will elucidate what the haiku form reveals about their perceptions of the unprecedented disaster and the values that permeate and underlie Japan’s culture.

Mayuzumi will later be joined by a panel of Japan scholars from Columbia University—film expert Paul Anderer, professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Chris Hill, associate professor of Japanese literature; and Kay Shimizu, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science—as well as haiku poet and translator Hiroaki Sato and art education expert Raja Adal, assistant professor of Japanese history at Oberlin College, to discuss both the unique and universal aspects of Japanese society.

Message from Donald Keene
Message from Donald Keene

The symposium will be followed by the world premiere of "And Then, Spring," a song for the people of Fukushima—who are unlikely to be able to return home for many years—that fondly recalls the prefecture’s four seasons and natural beauty. The choral piece is a collaborative benefit project by Mayuzumi and composer and musical producer Akira Senju.

"Kokoro: The Heart of Japan" is being co-organized by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University and the Tokyo Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit think tank promoting policy research, intellectual dialogue, and leadership development. Support also comes from the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, the Nippon Club, Japan Choral Harmony, and the Men's Glee Club of New York.

Tickets for Kokoro: The Heart of Japan are $20 ($10 for students and seniors with ID) and can be purchased online at the Kaufman Center website (http://kaufman-center.org/mch/event/heart-of-japan-public-symposium-concert) or by calling the Center at (212) 501-3330.

FREE TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR VISITORS TO THE TOKYO FOUNDATION WEBSITE. Send your name, affiliation, and contact information (e-mail & phone) to info@tkfd.or.jp (please use the subject line: FREE KOKORO TICKETS). The first 30 applicants will be presented with complimentary tickets (up to TWO per applicant; please indicate the number of desired tickets) to the Symposium and Concert. Winners will be notified by email. You may pick up your tickets at the door on the day of the Symposium.

Message from Iitate Mayor Kanno, whose village in Fukushima Prefecture has been promoting its growth through haiku.
Message from Iitate Mayor Kanno, whose village in Fukushima Prefecture has been promoting its growth through haiku.


Media inquiries (including pre-event interviews) should be directed to:
Daniel Rivero
(212) 854-1735 or dr2260@columbia.edu



• Title: “Kokoro: The Heart of Japan” Public Symposium and Concert
• Date: March 6, 2012, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
• Venue: Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Center (129 West 67th St.)
• Program:

Part 1: Lecture by Haiku Poet Madoka Mayuzumi, “Japan’s Culture of Silence”
Part 2: Panel Discussion, “Cultural Dimensions of Japan’s Post-Quake Response”
Part 3: Choral Concert, World Premiere of “Song for Fukushima”

Japan Choral Harmony
Japan Choral Harmony

Men's Glee Club of New York
Men's Glee Club of New York


MADOKA MAYUZUMI (haiku poet) first received acclaim in 1994 when a collection of 50 poems won an award from publisher Kadokawa Shoten. Her first book, B-men no Natsu (B-side Summer), enjoyed unprecedented sales for a haiku collection. In 2002 Mayuzumi’s fifth haiku-collection, Kyoto no koi (Kyoto Romance), won the Kenkichi Yamamoto Literary Prize. She spearheads a project called Rediscovery and Redefining Japan (with the Tokyo Foundation serving as the secretariat), which aims to revitalize Japan through the rediscovery of local culture, traditions, and history. Official website: http://madoka575.co.jp

AKIRA SENJU (composer, musical arranger, and producer) graduated from the Department of Composition, Tokyo University of the Arts, after attending Keio University’s Faculty of Engineering and completed a master's program at the university’s Graduate School of Music at the head of the class. The rights to his composition for the degree, Eden, were purchased by the university, and the score is now in the collection of its art museum. Major works include the Four Seasons ambient music for Haneda Airport, operas Sumida River and Man’yoshu, and the Tale of Genji lyrical symphony. Has written many theme songs for TV series, movies, anime, commercials, and documentaries. Has won three Japan Academy Awards for best score. Official website: http://www.akirasenju.com

RAJA ADAL is visiting assistant professor of history and East Asian studies, Oberlin College, specializing in Japanese history, comparative global history, aesthetics, and nationalism.His current work is on how modern states in Japan and Egypt tried to use art to educate children’s “hearts.” Adal is also working on a global history of non-Latin typewriters as a way of gaining insight into the history of writing, alphabet reform, and the feminization of secretarial work.

PAUL ANDERER is professor of Asian humanities, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University, specializing in modern Japanese literature, film, and cultural criticism; narrative topography; city cultures; and modern tragedy. He is writing a book tentatively titled “The Brothers Kurosawa” about director Akira Kurosawa and his older brother Heigo, the prodigal son turned silent film narrator or “benshi,” who committed suicide in 1933.

CHRISTOPHER HILL is adjunct associate research scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, who teaches and writes about modern literature and cultural history. He has lectured and published on nationalism and nationalist thought in Japan, France, and the United States, the world history of the novel, modernism, and the history of mental illness.

HIROAKI SATO is a poet, essayist, and prize-winning translator of Japanese poetry into English. Gary Snyder once called him “perhaps the finest translator of contemporary Japanese poetry into American English.” He is senior research fellow at JETRO New York and was president of the Haiku Society of America from 1979 to 1981.

KAY SHIMIZU is assistant professor of political science at Columbia University. Her research examines Japanese and Chinese political economy, with a focus on public finance and financial institutions. She is the co-editor of Political Change in Japan (with Steven R. Reed and Kenneth Mori McElwain, Brookings, 2009), which includes her two co-authored chapters.

JAPAN CHORAL HARMONY is a mixed choir consisting of 50 Japanese chorus lovers living the greater New York area, including several active professional artists. It was formed to perform jointly with the HAGI Choir from Sendai, Japanthe city closest to the epicenter of the March 11 earthquakeat the remarkably successful joint Japan-US charity choral concert for earthquake victims at Carnegie Hall on May 20, 2011. By coincidence, music director Masaki “Mike” Shirota is originally from Sendai, pianist Rikako Asanuma is from Iwate, and choir president Tomoko Abe is from Fukushima. These are the areas that were hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami. JCH has since participated actively in various concerts and events dedicated to the recovery of northern Japan.

The MEN'S GLEE CLUB OF NEW YORK is a four-part choral group of about 30 Japanese businessmen living in the New York metropolitan area. The Club was revived in December 2010 after a 10-year hiatus. It has since been quite active, performing with JCH at the May 2011 Carnegie Hall charity choral concert, and in December 2011 at its 12th annual concert. Men who enjoy singing are welcome to join. Practices are held on Friday nights. See http://mgcny.net for details.