Friday, April 8, 2011

Concert For Japan: More Than The Music

All ages enjoy making origami. Photo by George Hirose.

Earlier this week we detailed 12 hours of music highlights, but Japan Society’s April 9 CONCERT FOR JAPAN is so much more: origami instruction, washi lantern-making, shodō calligraphy, basic language instruction with the theme “Reach out to Japan,” kamishibai storytelling for children, a scavenger hunt, food and drinks, and unlimited access to the exhibit Bye Bye Kitty!!!

Admission for the day is $5, with all proceeds going to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Designed for people with no previous knowledge of Japanese, the language classes teach how to reach out to Japan through basic Japanese phrases to show support and offer help in 30 minute sessions led by teachers from the Society’s language center.

Master calligrapher Masako Inkyo introduces the basics of shodō – traditional Japanese calligraphy art using a brush and charcoal ink on paper. Participants are invited to create messages of peace and hope to take home, and also enjoy Brush, an exhibit of Inkyo’s latest work displayed near the language center.

From easy yet beautiful flowers to challenging cranes, everyone visiting the Society has the chance to make origami paper art, in workshops led by volunteers form Origami USA.

Original work from the language classes, shodo workshops and origami instruction with messages of support for children affected by the earthquake will be shared digitally with children through the Kids4Japan Facebook page, facilitated by Japan Society’s Education Program.

Inspired by traditional rice paper lanterns typically found at Japanese festivals, participants transform Japan Society’s atrium into a giant washi lantern and send well wishes for earthquake relief in Japan. Designed by architect Aki Ishida's students at Rhode Island School of Design, who run a paper-folding workshop for visitors, the collective sculpture grows over the course of the day.

Kamishibai storytelling transports children and families to a world of mythical creatures and folktale heroes. Lively stories in both English and Japanese combine visuals, song and movement and promote themes of cooperation and generosity. Stories are told by Teri Gindi, Keiko Sawaguchi and Kumiko Yamakado.

CONCERT admission includes unlimited access to the Society popular exhibit Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven & Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art, highlighting some of the most incredible and darkly breathtaking contemporary art from Japan. The gallery will be open an extra three hours on this special occasion.

Throughout the day, visitors are invited to explore Japan Society’s recently landmarked building, from top to bottom, capturing digital images to redeem a gift from Gifu Prefecture or MUJI.

Finally, people can grab specialty beverages from Japan, such as beer, sake, plum wine, green tea, canned coffee, juices and sodas. Soft drinks are $2 and alcoholic beverages are $4. There will also be food to purchase from area vendors ranging from $3-$8.

The full CONCERT FOR JAPAN schedule of performances and activities can be found at

Language classes, shodō lessons, and kamishibai storytelling take place over several small group sessions; ticketing opens at 11:00 am for sessions between 11:45 am-2:15 pm and at 2:15 pm for sessions scheduled 2:30-5:30 pm. Reservations are on a first come, first served basis.

The origami and washi latern workshops are continuous 11:00-6:00. Reservations are not required and participation is on space-available basis.

Those wishing to donate to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund can go to or mail a check to Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, New York 10017; Attn: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Checks should be made payable to Japan Society and indicate “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” on the check. One hundred percent of tax-deductible contributions to the fund go to these organizations. For additional information, email

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