Sep 8, 2010

News from Chihan-an 20100908_02

The five artists who performed the site-specific contemporary dance work Izu House for Chihan Art Project 2008 will re-unite in Philadelphia this week to create a new site-specific piece at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia, USA ( Tokyo artists Hideo Arai and Mika Kimula will once again work with American artists Leah Stein, Roko Kawai, Toshi Makihara and several members of the Leah Stein Dance Company. Japan House/Philadelphia will premiere as part of The Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Sep 9 -11. For more information, please go to:

From Tokyo dancer/performance artist Hideo Arai:

"The bonds and connections that we created at Chihan-an will travel across the Pacific Ocean. I believe that this is just as Mr. Chihan hoped -- to keep art making and collaborative searching moving forward, like the passing of the baton in a lively relay race. Also, we are delighted that Mr. Shiba will be attending Japan House/Philadelphia! We all look forward to hearing his report!!"

From Philadelphia/San Francisco artist Roko Kawai:

"Leah and I are thrilled to welcome Hideo and Mika (and the Chihan spirit!) to our 'native' Philadelphia. While on the surface the similarities between Chihan-an and Shofuso are strong, our research reveals a different story. First of all, Shofuso was never lived in! It was a gift, a 'good will gesture,' a political maneuver in 1953 between Japan and the U.S., just a year after General MacArthur's occupation ended. It was designed as 'the ideal' traditional Japanese home from circa 16th century and built by master craftsman from Japan. First on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it found its a permanent home in Philadelphia's renowned Fairmount Park. It has, and still remains, a beautiful 'symbol,' a place to visit and be curious about. In contrast to Chihan-an, there is no family oral history, no birthing room for successive generations, no memories of a returning sister or a community funeral or an art piece left behind by a grateful guest. Language like 'tadaima' and 'okaeri' have no place here. Thus, Leah and I felt that it would be impossible to 'import' entire sections of choreography from Izu House to Japan House/Philadelphia, even though it was tempting to re-utilize our 'favorite' scenes.

On the other hand, Shofuso's history offers new possibilities. It harkens to the surprising connections between Meiji-Taisho Japan and Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States. For instance, the Mississippi, one of the four ships that Commodore Perry steamed into Uraga Bay in Shimoda, was built and launched from Philadelphia. The Iwakura Mission, during their symbolic tour to the West, stopped by Philadelphia for four days in 1872. Now, for this new project, we are exploring themes of embarkation, gifting, negotiation, disorientation, curiosity, encounters, retreating, relationship break-throughs and good-byes.

One thing is certain -- that the many hours and days and nights we spent at Chihan-an gave us an intimacy and understanding of the traditional home in ways that otherwise would never have been accessible to us. For that and more, we want to thank Nobuko-san and Junji-san and everyone at the Chihan Art Project!!!! Sending hugs and kisses from Philadelphia!!!" -- Roko Kawai


For those of you who missed Izu House 2008 at Chihan-an, please read more about the history of the project in both Japanese and English at our Chihan Art Project blog, go to the Leah Stein Dance Company website (
or check out creative process and artist interviews on YouTube:

News from Chihan-an 20100908_01

Christopher Yohmei and Zenpo Simura who played together at Chihan-an in 2009 for the 3rd Chihan Art Project, recently were in Prague to perform in European Shakuhachi Festival 2010.  
They gave several concerts from August 26~31 and also tought master classes of the students from different part of the globe during the period. This is annual international shakuhachi festival held in Plague which began 8 years ago and Christopher has been very active as senior artistic director.
For the detail of ESF, please visit