Japan Society Caps Its Centennial Celebration With "Creation," "Genius" and 100 Years of Sake

For Immediate Release

** Through May 2008 **

New York, NY -- Japan Society continues Japan 100: Celebrating a Century with a final installment of programming through May 2008 commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Society's 1907 founding. Among the regular schedule of quality seasonal programming, special events in the areas of arts and culture, business, education, and public policy take place throughout New York City and in Japan.

Beginning March 2008, Japan Society rounds off nearly 18 months of spectacular centennial fare with four high-profile public events. Co-organized by Asahi Shinbun and Japan Society, Deliveries of Creation: New Modes of Interactive Art in the 21st Century (March 8, 2008) explores the changing nature of the creative enterprise in the digital age with powerhouse directors Julie Taymor and Amon Miyamoto among others. The spring exhibition The Genius of Japanese Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin (March 21-June 15, 2008) mounts the most comprehensive exhibition of work by history's greatest lacquer artist since a commemorative show held in Tokyo in December 1907. One of the Society's most popular events, the Annual Sake Tasting and Lecture (April 3, 2008) receives a centenary infusion with renowned expert John Gauntner commenting on 100 years of sake appraisal, and a rare opportunity for connoisseurs to taste sakes debuting in Japan's spring competitions. Finally, Carnegie Hall salutes Japan Society on the occasion of its Centennial with a live performance by world-renowned pianist Mitsuko Uchida (May 9, 2008).

With the closing of The Genius of Japanese Lacquer on June 15, 2008, Japan Society will have presented over 120 public events since January 2007, encompassing approximately 71 film screenings; 67 performances; 58 panels, lectures and conferences; 39 weeks of Gallery exhibitions; 26 education and family programs; and 6 prestigious special events.

Including the Centennial Gala Dinner (May 9, 2007) keynoted by Former President Bill Clinton with centennial honorary committee co-chairs David Rockefeller and Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda, past centennial highlights were the Centennial Speakers Series with career-spanning discussion lead by luminaries such as Tadao Ando, Fujio Cho, Beate Gordon, Eikoh Harada, Donald Keene, Shintaro Ishihara, Yuzaburo Mogi, Joseph Nye, Martha Stewart, Junichi Ujiie, Ezra Vogel, and Paul Volcker (January 2007-May 2008); Big Dance Theater’s The Other Here, a world premiere commissioned by Japan Society (Feb. 7-10, 2007); Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan, the first major exhibition of its kind in more than 30 years (March 28-June 17, 2007); TECH EPOCH, an 11-day summit of cutting-edge technologies (May 31-June 10, 2007); JAPAN CUTS, the Society’s first large-scale film festival (July 5-15, 2007); Noh and Kyogen in the Park, al fresco performances of ancient plays performed by the most distinguished artists from Japan (July 19-21, 2007); the 100th Anniversary Alumni Reception for Educators, for 100+ teachers who had participated in the Society's Educators Study Tours (Aug. 24, 2007); and Making a Home: Japanese Contemporary Artists in New York, showcasing 33 contemporary New York City-based artists from Japan (Oct. 5, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008). Turning Japanese, a city-wide celebration of Japan-inspired performing arts in Fall 2007 featured the remounting and subsequent Japan Tour of the Society-commissioned, award winning Basil Twist's Dogugaeshi (Sep. 12-22 in NYC; Nov. 24-Dec. 9, 2007 in Kanazawa, Kyoto, Yokohama, and Tokushima, Japan); Kazuo Ohno 101: 3-Week Butoh Parade, presenting seminal new works by masters of butoh dance, including MacArthur fellows Eiko & Koma, Akira Kasai, Akaji Maro and Yoshito Ohno in honor of butoh founder Kazuo Ohno's 101st Birthday (Oct. 9-27, 2007); and the first-ever restaging of Harry Partch's 1969 experimental opera masterpiece Delusion of the Fury (Dec. 4 & 6-8, 2007). The U.S.-Japan Innovators Network--Japan Society's newest endeavor in a long tradition of significant policy projects--held its first public symposium Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century (May 24, 2007) and a subsequent sister symposium in Japan the For Profit, For Good: Integrating Social Value into the Bottom Line (Feb. 6, 2008); the project continues a series of international public events in 2008-09.

March-June 2008 Centennial Programming Highlights

Japan Society celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding with Japan100: Celebrating a Century, an array of high-profile programming in 2007-08. The celebration occurs throughout New York City and in Japan with further national and international exposure through traveling exhibitions, performing arts tours, symposia, fellowships, and exchanges. Details on spring 2008 highlights follow; all events take place at Japan Society unless otherwise noted.

Deliveries of Creation: New Modes of Interactive Art in the 21st Century
Saturday, March 8, 2 pm
**OFFSITE EVENT In Tokyo, Japan***

Recent advancements in technology and media are altering our culture in profound ways, blurring the line between recorded, reproducible art and live performance, and between commercial entertainment and fine art. Over a two-part discussion, prominent players in the arts and technology fields discuss these shifting paradigms and their effects on their industries. In a keynote dialogue, Academy Award-nominated film director and director of Broadway’s The Lion King Julie Taymor, whose artistic career has spanned experimental puppet theater to the grand opera, and famed musical theater and opera director Amon Miyamoto share how the changing climate in our high-tech environment is shaping not only their careers but also their artistic intentions and relationship to their audiences. In the second forum, video game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Toshio Tsuchiya, the Executive Director of the Internet Division of Nippon Television, and Satoshi Endo, Chief Contents Officer of ASCII, discuss the evolution of their business models in an age where the variety of media interfaces is multiplying exponentially at a rapid pace. Co-organized by Asahi Shimbun. [This event is free and open to the public. Registration is mandatory through Asahi Shimbun. For information, please call 212-715-1229 or email Held at Yurakucho Mullion 11F, 2-5-1, Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan.]

The Genius of Japanese Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin

March 21-Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891) is history’s greatest lacquer artist, recognized worldwide for his exquisitely detailed lacquered boxes, panels, sword mounts, and other objects, as well as scrolls painted in both ink and lacquer. In addition to his mastery of traditional techniques, Zeshin developed a range of daring new lacquer textures and finishes imitating rusty iron, rough seas, patinated bronze, and even the delicate grain of Chinese rosewood. With The Genius of Japanese Lacquer: Masterworks by Shibata Zeshin, Japan Society presents the finest collection of the artist’s works ever assembled outside of Japan. This exhibition is organized by the San Antonio Museum of Art and Japan Society, and is based on the collection of Catherine and Thomas Edson. [Hours: Tue.-Thu., 11 am-6 pm; Fri., 11 am-9 pm; Sat. and Sun., 11 am-5 pm; closed on Mon. and major holidays. $12/$10 students and seniors/FREE Japan Society Members, children under 16 and to the general public Fridays from 6-9 pm.]

Annual Sake Tasting & Lecture: The 100-Year History of Sake Appraisal

Thursday, April 3, 6:30 pm

For 100 years, Japan's National Sake Appraisal has pushed brewers in a spirit of friendly competition toward continuous improvement in the art of sake making, as manifested in its flavors and aromas. Unlike industries that change as a result of new technologies, sake making still depends largely on the subtle quality of rice and water, unpredictable weather, and the skill and artistry of brew masters that allows both established products and emerging entrants with high quality sake to win top honors and medals. In this program, John Gauntner, renowned sake expert and a founding member of Sake Export Association, discusses how 100 years of history of sake appraisal has changed the sake industry and aided in the development of new flavors, aromas and styles. Participants will have the rare opportunity to taste some of the sakes that will be presented at Japan's National Sake Appraisal in spring 2008. [$35/$30 Japan Society members & seniors. Participants must be 21 years of age or older. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, February 20.]

Mitsuko Uchida at Carnegie Hall
Friday, May 9, 2008 at 8 pm
**Offsite Event at the Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall**

Presented by Carnegie Hall and commemorating the conclusion of Japan Society’s centennial celebration, world-renowned pianist Mitsuko Uchida performs a concert of beloved works including Schubert’s Sonata in C Minor, D.958; selections from György Kurtág’s; a selection of Bach’s short preludes and fugues; and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13. The Sunday Times of London noted, “Her artistry is a powerful force, but she has a delicacy of spirit, a profound reflectiveness.” This concert is part of Carnegie Hall’s Keyboard Virtuosos series. [Tickets are $36-$122 and can be purchased at or by calling 212-247-7800 8 am-8 pm, 7 days a week. Carnegie Hall is located at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.]

About Japan Society
Japan Society has evolved over 100 years into an internationally recognized nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that offers opportunities to experience Japanese culture; fosters sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia; and improves access to information on Japan. Currently Japan Society presents over 100 events annually, engaging and informing executives, civic leaders, artists, educators, students, and a global audience of culture devotees. Since 1907 the Society has produced thousands of conferences, exhibitions, performances, screenings, demonstrations, tastings, symposia, lectures, seminars, classes, workshops and exchanges.

Japan Society was founded on May 19, 1907--as announced on the front of page The New York Times the following day--by a group of prominent New York City business people and philanthropists. Most of the original members remained active in the Society for many years, shaping the policies of exchange and collaboration that guided it through the 1930s until the outbreak of World War II. After the war, activities slowly resumed, and the stewardship of John D. Rockefeller 3rd from 1952–78 led to a unified vision and a firm financial foundation with the revitalized mission "to bring the people of the United States and of Japan closer together in their appreciation and understanding of each other" (Rockefeller, 1952).

Built on land donated by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Japan Society's landmark building was designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura and opened in 1971 as the first contemporary Japanese building in New York. Located near the United Nations, activities at Japan Society are set against a stunning backdrop of indoor gardens, a reflecting pool and a waterfall. Furnished with a superb collection of tables, chairs, and benches designed by master woodworker George Nakashima, the facilities include a 262-seat theater, art gallery, language center, library, conference facilities and over three floors of administrative space. The classic elegance and simplicity of Yoshimura's original vision has been preserved even as the building was enhanced by a substantial renovation completed in 1998.

About Japan Society Programs, Projects and Resources
Since its inception in 1907, Japan Society's activities within the international business community have evolved into the Corporate Program, which engages more than 2,500 executives annually. Recent high-profile discussions have included Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (2002); Ben S. Bernanke, Member, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2004); Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki (2006); Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill speaking on the Six-Party Talks (2007); and Fujio Cho, Chairman, Toyota Motor Corporation (2007). On February 1, 2008, the Corporate Program hosted a 12-person international panel discussion on capital markets enforcement with such notable policy makers and academics as Japan’s former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki; University of Tokyo Economics Professor Takatoshi Ito; SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins; Director of the Enforcement Division at the SEC, Linda Chatman Thomsen; and her counterpart in the UK, Financial Services Authority Director of Enforcement Margaret Cole.

Japan Society’s Policy Projects include Redefining Japan & the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Bioterrorism & Consequence Management, and the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. Created in 2004-2005, the Innovators Network brings emerging as well as established leaders in business, civil society and arts and culture together to explore new opportunities for bilateral collaboration in the 21st century. Visit for more information.

While Japan Society produced its first exhibition in 1911 (resulting in the Society's first major publication, Japanese Colour Prints by Frederick Gookin, 1913), Japan Society Gallery did not open until 1972 after the completion of the Society's building. The Gallery has since become one of the premier venues in the U.S. for the exhibition and publication of Japanese art. Recent acclaimed exhibitions include YES: Yoko Ono (2000); Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture curated by Takashi Murakami (2005); Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History (2005), which toured North America in 2007; and the lauded centennial exhibition Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan (2007).

Established in 1953, the Performing Arts Program has introduced audiences in New York and North America to more than 500 programs of Japan's vibrant contemporary and revered traditional dance, music and theater. Highlights range from multiple premiere presentations of the Grand Kabuki to the wildly popular Contemporary Japanese Dance Showcase that "has served as an invaluable showcase for new Japanese dance in New York" (The New York Times). Through commissions, residencies, exchanges, and workshops the Program also serves as a catalyst to inspire U.S.-based artists. One such commission, Big Dance Theater's The Other Here, kicked off the 2007-08 centennial celebration and was followed by three months of noh-inspired work that culminated in spectacular outdoor traditional performances in July 2007.

Japan Society is New York City's prime destination for cinematic retrospectives of seminal film directors and actors from Japan, thematic film series, and U.S. premieres of Japanese films of various genres often accompanied by commentary and discussion by participating filmmakers. From its first film screening in 1922 (a four-reel film of the crown prince's 1921 visit to Europe) to the 2006 premiere screening of Drawing Restraint 9, hosted by visual artist Matthew Barney and collaborator Björk, Film Program highlights have also included, Kurosawa: A Retrospective (1981); A Tribute to Toshiro Mifune (1984); Anime: The History of Japanese Animated Films (1999); and Critic’s Choice: Susan Sontag on Japanese Film, Parts I & II (2003 and 2004). As part of the centennial programming, the program presented JAPAN CUTS on July 5-15, 2007. As the Society's first-ever large-scale festival of contemporary film, the event is now slated to occur annually.

Japan Society has created and facilitated many prestigious fellowships and exchanges, from Eleanor Roosevelt's 1953 participation in the Intellectual Interchange Program to the ongoing U.S.-Japan Media Fellows Program. The latter has resulted in articles from both eminent and up-and-coming newsmakers, which have appeared historically on ABC News and NPR and in publications including The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Wired, The Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Foreign Policy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe among many others.

In 1928, Japan Society received and displayed Good Will Dolls sent to America by more than 2,500,000 school children in Japan. Today the Society's Education Program offers exceptional Japan-related curricula and programs for K-12 educators, students and schools in arts, history, literature and contemporary issues, as well as educators’ study tours to Japan. Special events for children and families commemorating Japan's traditional festivals and customs serve wider audiences and local communities with firsthand opportunities to learn and experience Japanese culture. On August 24, 2007, the program presented the 100th Anniversary Alumni Reception for Educators, bridging leaders in American Education about Asia such as The Honorable James B. Hunt Jr., former Governor of North Carolina, and Susan Fuhrman, President of Teachers College-Columbia University, with 100+ teachers who had participated in Japan Society’s Educators Study Tours over the years.

With an annual lecture series initiated in 1911, today’s Lectures Program continues to present public lectures, panel discussions, and symposia that activate intercultural dialogue with topics ranging from art, architecture, and fashion to literature and social policy. In the past 15 years, speakers have included Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe, acclaimed journalist Robert MacNeil, Director General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura, former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, fashion designer Hanae Mori, scholar Donald Keene, architect Tadao Ando, entrepreneur Martha Stewart, composer Stephen Sondheim, multimedia artist Nam June Paik, and jewelry designer Elsa Peretti.

Beginning in 1972 with a single class, the Toyota Language Center has grown into one of the most respected learning resources in the nation for the study of Japanese language, offering comprehensive levels of Japanese as well as a variety of advanced and specialized courses, workshops and conversation classes. Over 2,000 students enrolled in 165 classes annually. In recent years the Center hosted a year-end discussion for students and alumni with special guest Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees.

Japan Society's C.V. Starr Library contains roughly 14,000 volumes (primarily in English), offering Society members a comprehensive resource for information on Japanese art, history, culture, society, politics, religion and many other subjects.

The Japan Society Shop receives a grand reopening March 21, 2008, expanding its showroom to more than double in size. The high-end boutique sells one-of-a-kind decorative and functional work from Japan and Japanese artists and studios all over the world. All Proceeds from Shop sales support Japan Society programming.

Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and V at Lexington Avenue and 53rd St.) For reservations or ticket information, call the box office at 212-715-1258. For further information call 212-832-1155 or visit

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