2009 Tiffany Foundation Award
Congratulations to the 2009 recipients of the Tiffany Foundation Award for the Preservation of Japanese Traditional Arts and Culture in Contemporary Society for their exemplary work preserving Japanese traditional arts at the national and regional community levels.
Earth Celebration Committee—Taisho Award
- Location: Sado City, Niigata Prefecture
- Date of Establishment: 1988
“Earth Celebration” is an international performing arts festival hosted by Kodo, a local taiko drum troupe, and Sado City. Despite its rich history and natural beauty, the island of Sado in the Japan Sea—like many rural communities in Japan—suffers from a declining and aging population and a shrinking economy. The festival was first organized in 1988 to revitalize the community, which had limited opportunities for international exchanges. In recent years, the festival has grown into an international music event that attracts large crowds of people from other parts of Japan and from around the world.
With a theme of celebrating humans and the environment, the festival is known for spontaneity and creativity in its performances. Various music and cultural programs, including outside concerts, taiko workshops, island tours, and cultural exhibitions, are held on the island throughout the three-day event. The festival seeks to create an alternative “global culture” and “local culture” through collaboration and synergy among the musicians and performers invited from around the world. According to the New York Times, Earth Celebration has become one of the “most advanced world music events in Japan.”
- Location: Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture
- Date of Establishment: 2001
Murakami City has retained many distinctive features of a joka-machi (towns that lie at the base of Japanese castles) as much of traditional architecture and landscape has remained over the centuries. Facing a wave of urban development, a group of local citizens mobilized to preserve and recreate the traditional landscape of the city. The Kurobei Project is a part of this local effort, in which a team of volunteers transforms the concrete walls of modern houses into the traditional kurobei (black wall) style by applying painted lumber over the existing outer walls.
The project—supported by funds collected from local residents who donate 1000 yen (10 dollars) per sheet of lumber—has succeeded in drastically changing the look of streets so that they now retain the characteristics of a joka-machi. The team’s effort represents an innovative idea that revives the traditional character of the city with relatively minimal cost and time, but with great effect.