Inami International Wooden Sculpture Camp in Nanto City 2011

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.5 edition (July 1, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

From August 18th through the 30th, the Wooden Sculpture Camp will be held at Zuisen-ji (Temple) in the Inami area of Nanto City. The theme is “Connecting the World through Wood Carving,” and this event has been held once every four years since 1991. However, this year’s sixth camp will be the first to occur at Zuisen-ji, the origin of the famed Inami wood carvings.

Participants this year include ten overseas woodcarvers, each from a different country from all over the world such as Hungary, Bulgaria, and Chile. There will also be three woodcarvers from within Toyama Prefecture, and two more from within Japan. Observation of the process from raw source wood to sculpture completion will be open to the public, and through the thirteen days of the camp, both the public and the artists will have an opportunity to deepen international understanding by learning about other countries’ peoples, traditions, and cultures. A unique feature of this program is that it is not a contest in a competitive format, but is truly a “camp” where the main goal is for invited artists as well as observers to be able to interact with different cultures.

The log that will be used is camphorwood, about 1.8 meters (6 ft.) long and 50 centimeters (20 in.) in diameter. Observers can take in the aroma of wood and watch from up-close the skilled artists work with chainsaws, mallets, and chisels, and feel the passion and thrill of wood carving. Zuisen-ji, the event’s location, was built in 1390 and is the largest temple in the Hokuriku region. The combination of this historic wooden structure and the artistic wood sculptures should be a stimulating environment for international cultural exchange.

The completed artwork will be on display at Zuisen-ji through September 4th, and at the Inami Cultural Center from September 7th through the 18th.

In addition, a large variety of events will be held in conjunction with the Wooden Sculpture Camp, such as a photo contest and an international cooking event. On August 28th, there will be an attempt to be listed in the Guinness World Records by building the world’s longest wooden bench of 621 meters. The current record is 613 meters (Poland), and “621” is significant in that this year is the 621st anniversary of the founding of the old Inami Town (independent before the 2004 merger).

The English-language website for the Wooden Sculpture Camp is currently under construction:

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now


Man’yoshu Symposium in Tokyo

Originally written for the Vol.5-No.5 edition (July 1, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

On Sunday, July 10th, the Man’yoshu symposium “Yamato to Koshi: Exploring the Poetic Sentiment of Otomono Yakamochi” will be held in Le Theatre Ginza in Tokyo. This event is the result of a cooperative effort between Nara Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture, both of which have a relationship with Man’yoshu poetry.

Man’yoshu is the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry, and contains 4,516 poems over 20 volumes. The area where the most poems take place is Nara. However, Toyama Prefecture can claim the poet Otomono Yakamochi, who wrote 223 poems while governing Etchu Province (present-day Toyama Prefecture) from the year 746 to 751. Yakamochi went on to compose a total of 473 poems, but with about half of them having been composed in Etchu Province, the period of time he spent there is considered to have been influential on his unique style.

At the Tokyo symposium, there will be lectures, readings, and performances of traditional Japanese court music. The panel discussion (“A tribute to the homeland”) will feature the Governors of Nara and Toyama Prefectures, Shogo Arai and Takakazu Ishii, respectively. There will also be displays promoting tourism in Nara and Toyama, and local products will be for sale.

In Toyama, the Man’yoshu symposium serves as an event to anticipate the opening of a Toyama Prefectural literature center, scheduled to open next year. It will be a resource for literature inspired by Toyama’s nature and geography, and will also feature film, manga, and anime. Of course, there will be many displays and exhibits related to Man’yoshu poetry, and the hope is that visitors will be able to feel Man’yoshu’s connection to the present day.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

International Events for Charity

The original version of this article was written for the Vol.5-No.5 edition (July 1, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

It is a very busy time in the Toyama international community!

The Arvynia Fashion Show was held on June 18th in Toyama City, with original fashions designed by an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) of Toyama, Hong Van Tran. In addition, foreigners throughout Toyama Prefecture provided the modeling and MC-ing as well as the international food and beautiful sweets that were available for purchase. All proceeds will be donated to charities, including the Japanese Red Cross.

This weekend, the annual International Charity Show will be held in Takaoka City, also organized by the foreign community in Toyama Prefecture. This is an original stage musical, with most of the dialogue in Japanese. Many of my friends have been working countless hours to prepare for this show: rehearsing, building sets, and promoting. I look forward to the results of all those evenings and weekends they sacrificed to work on this show! Proceeds will be donated to a variety of both local and international charities. Please visit the website for more information.