12 SEPTEMBER 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The many sounds, sights, tastes, arts and traditions of Japan come together on Saturday, 29 September from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers Celebrate Japan!
Co-sponsored by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso), this spectacular, family-friendly event features the mesmerizing beats of Taiko drumming, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, and an Aikido demonstration. The day also includes presentations on sushi preparation, flower arrangement, and calligraphy, Japanese anime (cartoons), a kimono display and dressing lecture, Japanese games, kabuki face painting, a display of traditional dolls—even a chance to experience Shiatsu massage and a Reiki healing treatment—and more! Celebrate Japan! is FREE with Museum admission donation ($8 general admission; $5 students and seniors; free for children under 6, Museum members and PENNcard holders).
Visitors may attend an introduction to Taiko drumming with instructor Kris Rudzinski of Shofuso Taiko, a community taiko group associated with Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park and Settlement Music School, at 1:30 p.m. and again at 3:40 p.m. in the Harrison auditorium. Taiko, literally meaning “fat drum” in Japanese, is the generic term used to represent various styles of Japanese drumming, from ancient to modern times, used in many contexts including classical music, theater, and the internationally popular kumi daiko (taiko ensembles).
Sensei (teacher) Keith Badyna, founder of Saboten Ryu Aikido, and students of the Saboten Ryu Dojo, demonstrate this Japanese art of self-defense along with some traditional Japanese sword techniques, in the Upper Courtyard at 12:30 p.m. Saboten Ryu Aikido applies traditional Aikido techniques to modern scenarios to provide non-violent defense against armed and unarmed attackers on the ground and in an upright position. These techniques have been incorporated into self-defense training for EMTs, security and law enforcement professionals, and U.S. Marines. Eleven instructors from the Dojo have been inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
Visitors have an opportunity to learn about and experience a Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu, at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. presented by Urasenke LaSalle, a branch of the Kyoto-based Urasenke tea school located at La Salle University.
Food is an important part of every culture. Madame Saito, international chef and owner of Philadelphia's Le Champignon de Tokio and a cuisine instructor with Temple University for 14 years, offers two Japanese sushi-making demonstrations in the Upper Egyptian gallery at 11 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The Museum Café also gets into the spirit of the day with a Japanese-inspired menu.
Fumiyo Batta, Japanese language instructor at the Japanese Language School of Philadelphia and Widener University, offers her insight into the delicate art of Kimono dressing through a live demonstration, dressing models in Kimonos for different seasons and life events, from birth to marriage to funeral, in the Rainey Auditorium at 2:30 p.m.
Other presentations in the Rainey Auditorium include "Adrift in the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Prints" at 11 a.m. by Julie Davis, Assistant Professor, History of Art, at the University of Pennsylvania; a lecture on Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, by Sarah Goetz of Ikebana International; and "An Introduction to Manga and Anime" at 1 p.m. by Lewis Harrington, Ph.D. Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.
At 12:15 p.m., Mike Marienelli, President of Pennsylvania Bonsai Society, lectures on Bonsai trees in the Upper Egyptian Gallery.
Many can learn about, and a few lucky visitors can experience, two kinds of traditional Japanese hands-on therapy. Kimberly Fleisher of the Reiki School and Clinic in Philadelphia demonstrates this ancient spiritual practice that promotes healing and relaxation in the Lower Egyptian gallery from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. Administered by the “laying on of hands,” Reiki aims to improve one’s “life force energy,” treating the mind and body. Shirley Scranta, Director of the International School of Shiatsu, offers several Shiatsu massage demonstrations in the Nevil Classroom throughout the day. Shiatsu utilizes pressure points along with other manual therapy techniques to reduce stress and fatigue.
Visitors are invited to try their hands at origami (the art of paper folding) from noon to 2 p.m. in the Chinese Rotunda, as volunteers from the Japanese Language Program at the University of Pennsylvania offer lessons in folding a paper crane. The crane is a symbol of good health and longevity, and the goal for the afternoon is to collect 1000 paper cranes to send to the patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Other highlights in the Chinese Rotunda include ongoing calligraphy demonstrations; an exhibit of traditional Japanese dolls from the collection of Penn Museum's International Classroom; and a table where kids of all ages can try traditional and contemporary Japanese toys and games, including a chance to learn the game Go from a member of the Penn Go Society.
Kimonos for diverse occasions, from the collections of Kazumi Teune, Executive Director of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, and the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso), can be seen in the Chinese Rotunda throughout the day.
Other day-long events include four different Japanese anima films shown by The Delaware Anime society starting at 11:00 a.m. in Classroom 2, and Kabuki face painting for kids in the Polynesia gallery by Pleasant Valley Promotion.
The Museum Shops set up an outpost in the Chinese Rotunda with Japanese kimonos and garments using old and new pieces from kimonos, as well as other Japanese and Japan-inspired items, for purchase. Yoko Trading also offers a selection of kimonos for sale, and Morihata International Ltd. Co. features selections from their Kishu Laquerware collection of hand-finished interior accessories and tableware.
The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, a co-sponsor of Celebrate Japan!, works to foster understanding, cooperation, and international exchange between the U.S. and Japan. They offer numerous ways to get involved in the Japanese and American communities in Philadelphia, including networking events, a bi-monthly Japanese conversation club, sake tastings and sushi making workshops. Their most popular event is the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place in and around Philadelphia April 5 to 19, 2008. More information can be found at www.jasgp.org.
The Center for East Asian Studies, a U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center, supports and coordinates the study of China, Japan, Korea, and neighboring regions at the University of Pennsylvania. The Center sponsors lectures, conferences, film series, and performances; offers a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies; and administers professional development projects for area educators.
The Friends of the Japanese House and Garden seeks to preserve, maintain, and interpret Shofuso, the 17th-century-style house and garden in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park and to offer public educational programs through its Japanese Cultural Center, promoting intercultural understanding of Japanese art, architecture, and culture.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at http://www.penn.museum.