The Japan Foundation Prizes for the Promotion of Community-Based Cultural Exchange (1997)

International Citizen's Association of Sendai

Image picture of International Citizen's Association of Sendai

The city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, has many institutions of higher education, including universities, attended by many foreign students from around the world, especially from Asian nations. Since its establishment in June 1987 the International Citizen's Association of Sendai (ICAS) has been working actively to deepen relationships between foreign residents of Sendai, mainly students and their families, and local citizens. In the Tohoku region of northern Honshu, ICAS is a pioneer in organizing various Japanese-language courses, with volunteer members as instructors, and these programs are highly regarded for their professionalism and outstanding achievements. ICAS activities to identify problems in teaching Japanese as a second language have attracted nationwide attention, extending the reach of its activities beyond regional borders. The group has also become active overseas in recent years through increasing exchanges with students who have returned to their home countries, and further developments are expected. ICAS, with its orthodox approach, manifests a keen insight into the times, as well as a firm belief in the value of its activities.

The Executive Committee on the International Workshop of Ceramic Art in Tokoname

Image picture of The Executive Committee on the International Workshop of Ceramic Art in Tokoname

Mutual exchange of paintings by elementary school children in Penang, Malaysia and Asagasumi-machi, Saitama Prefecture, was initiated by a single family. It subsequently spread throughout both countries, and today the number of schools exchanging such works of art has increased and developed into such international exchange activities as exchange of art works, exhibitions, and home stays with children in the leading role.

The Kamou-go Teko Bozu Drum Ensemble

Image picture of The Kamou-go Teko Bozu Drum Ensemble

Attracted by taiko drumming performed to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of their town in 1979, young people of Kamou, Kagoshima Prefecture, formed the Kamou-go Teko Bozu drum ensemble in April 1986 with the aim of creating a new local performance culture. In 1987 ensemble members received Korean students on home stays under the Japan-Korea Koguma Exchange (koguma derives from the Korean word for sweet potato), which led to an arrangement for the ensemble to perform in Seoul. Distrust of Japanese culture was deeply rooted in Korea at that time, but in 1988 the ensemble gave the very first public performance by a private Japanese citizens' group in Korea. Since then, exchange with Korea has led to expansion of the ensemble's activities to in-clude performances in New Zealand and Singapore. Further, the ensemble performed with a group invited from Korea at the Nihon Ichidai Kusunoki Donto Aki Matsuri (Japan's Greatest Camphor Tree Donto Autumn Festival), an outgrowth of the local autumn festival. Such activities have made the ensemble a leader in international exchange in the area. The ensemble has been involved in protecting and nurturing local performing arts in an agricultural region that is experiencing depopulation. Its effort to develop international exchange through these activities, particularly fruitful exchange with Korea, "the distant country next door," deserves praise.

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