My experience as Japan Cultural Envoy

Mikuni Yanaihara
Choreographer, Director, Play writer / Associate professor of Performing arts course, Kindai University
  • Sending state:Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, United States, Indonesia and the Philippines
  • Active Period:From August 22, 2015 to January 31, 2016

For several months after departing from Japan, I travelled around the Southeast Asian countries, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia to create stage with artists in these countries. When I think of Japan, I wonder  the cold season has already come. Yet, here in Southeast Asia, summer is everywhere as if the seasons have forgotten to transit. T-shirts I bought at street stands wherever I go swell my suitcase. Whenever I arrived in a country for the first time, I took a taxi from the airport and always thought what encounters awaited me in this new world, looking up high-rise buildings and the blue sky above them. In any country I visit, the same idea crosses my mind. Am I able to properly present  my works in this country? The worry spreads in my mind. At the same time, however, the more my anxiety grows, the more chances seem to await me for delightful encounters and discovery. My past experiences have planted such a promise in  my mind. It makes me excited and I cannot wait for them.

In August, many people including tourists passed away because of a terrorist attack in central Bangkok. Our rehearsal hall is very close to the scene. Whenever I go shopping, I pass by the street. This is where people died, isn’t it? I look at the busy street corner where many cars go by as if nothing has happened there. People pass by the corner briskly and I fall into myself the wave of those people. At such a time, the phrase,
“Why am I here?” comes to mind. What can a perfect stranger ever do in this town? Worry haunts me. By supporting from the Japan Foundation, I could participate in the Bangkok Theatre Festival. Here is my Strategic Loneliness . It as staged and nominated for the script, direction and supporting actress prizes. A Thai actress Gorufu won the best supporting actress prize.

There are a variety of countries in Asia, each having different levels of life and different sets of values. Furthermore, languages, religions and nations are all diverse and distinctive. Talking of Asian history, it might be difficult to identify the  countries that did not suffer war-time damages more than 70 years ago. Under these circumstances, we should strongly consider the type of activities that we should carry out here. A journey in the quest for answers and encounters with various  people leads me to ponder over the possibility of other answers. By seeing things from the perspective of each country and people there, we might be able to see what our home country should be like. We may not have understood anything except simple and superficial matters. Of course, I am unable to say what I can do. I believe, however, that I am allowed to at least give it a try.

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Strategic Loneliness , an entry to the Bangkok Th eatre Festival in Th ailand

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Strategic Loneliness , an entry to the Bangkok Th eatre Festival in Th ailand

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An entry to the Singapore International Festival of Arts (Theatre)

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Nibroll performance in Vietnam

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The audience in Vietnam waits for the start of the Nibroll performance