The Japan Foundation Prizes for the Promotion of Community-Based Cultural Exchange (2000)

Esashi Oiwake Society (Hokkaido)

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Esashi Oiwake is a form of traditional Japanese folk music derived from the mago-uta verse, originally from Shinshu, which spread throughout Japan during the Edo era and was brought to Esashi by the kitamaesen vessels. The Esashi Oiwake Society is committed to retaining and promoting Esashi Oiwake music and ensuring that it is passed on to future generations. To this end, the Society stages the annual Esashi Oiwake national competition as well as regular Esashi Oiwake seminars. The Society is also very active in promoting Esashi Oiwake overseas, having set up branches in five major cities and organized performances in countries as diverse as India, Nepal, Mongolia, the United States and Brazil. The Society has made an important and lasting contribution to international cultural exchange in the area of local community cultures, particularly with respect to the World Esashi Oiwake Festival, an exploration of the “Eurasia Silk Road of Songs” through comparisons with the folk music of other countries such as Mongolia.

Tochigi Industrial High School International Volunteer Network (Tochigi)

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The Tochigi Industrial High School International Volunteer Network, run by Tochigi Industrial High School and the student council at the school, has been highly successful in working with local community groups and NGOs to promote international understanding among students through activities that utilize the school’s facilities. For instance, the Network has been restoring used wheelchairs sourced from throughout Japan and donating them, with the help of NGOs, to physically handicapped people in Southeast Asia (particularly Thailand and South Korea) as well as Africa. The willingness of the students to go beyond the boundaries of the school system and work closely with a range of local groups and NGOs provides a very valuable model for international youth cultural exchange.

Genkaijin Club (Saga)

Image picture of Genkaijin Club (Saga)

Based in the town of Arita in Saga prefecture, the Genkaijin Club is devoted to the cause of promoting cultural exchange between Japan and South Korea at the regional level. The Club was founded by Yu Hwa Jun, who was inspired by the warm reception from the people from Arita for the work of potter Ri Sanpe. The term “genkaijin” was coined by Yu Hwa Jun’s father, and refers to those with links on both sides of the Genkai Sea that divides Japan and South Korea.

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