日本語   JCIE Japanese Language Site



2012 Tiffany Foundation Award

Two Innovative Groups Honored at 5th Annual Tiffany Award Ceremony

The Fifth Tiffany Foundation Award Ceremony was held in Tokyo on October 4, 2012 in Tokyo to honor organizations that have distinguished themselves with their efforts to preserve local cultural heritage while revitalizing their local economies. Two groups were selected for the award out of 63 applicants this year--the Yamamoto Noh Theater from Osaka Prefecture and the Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center from Ishikawa Prefecture.

Roughly 150 leaders from the fields of government, business, arts, civil society, and media attended the ceremony. Fernanda Kellogg, Chair of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation presented a custom-designed Tiffany trophy, and Mr. Mark Davidson, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the United States Embassy also made remarks. The recipients were also awarded a ¥2 million grant (roughly US$25,000). The ceremony was followed by a Noh performance by the Yamamoto Noh Theater.


   Ms. Fernanda Kellogg,
Chair, The Tiffany Foundation

    Judges: Fumio Nanjo, Director,
   Mori Art Museum
(left), Katsuhiko
           Hibino, Artist (right)

     Mr. Mark J. Davidson,
 Minister-Counselor for Public
  Affairs, US Embassy, Tokyo



Congratulations to the 2012 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.


Yamamoto Noh Theater—Taisho Award


YamamotoNoh1

Noh is the oldest Japanese theatrical art, with a history stretching back more than 650 years. While it is an important part of Japan’s cultural heritage, Noh is often described as outdated and difficult to understand for contemporary audiences. The Yamamoto Noh Theater was founded in 1927 to preserve and revive this traditional performing art and has undertaken various initiatives to present Noh as an “attractive art that lives in the contemporary era.” The group takes particular pride in its location, Osaka, which has nurtured many forms of Japanese performing arts, including kyogen (traditional comedy theater), bunraku (traditional puppet theater), and rakugo (comic storytelling). To promote Osaka as a city of traditions, the association regularly hosts events that YamamotoNoh6present Noh performances along with other forms of performing arts, giving audiences a comprehensive experience of Osaka’s many cultural activities.

The theater is classified as a national heritage site, originally built in 1921 and then reconstructed in 1950 after being burned down during the war. Workshops are regularly held for those who are new to Noh, including international audiences. The association also hosts children’s programs in which children can learn about Noh through creating set pieces, trying out Noh choreography, and participating in performances as part of the choir. In recent years, it has produced a new Noh program themed around environmental issues in Osaka. While it has retained the quality of traditional Noh theatrical performance, the theater also integrates contemporary arts into the stage set and involves children as performers to encourage community participation.


YamamotoNoh2 YamamotoNoh3 YamamotoNoh4

Taisho Award: Comments from Selection Committee Members


Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum (Committee Chair)

The Noh community faces issues in finding successors and ways to survive. The Yamamoto Noh Theater has been using a variety of innovative steps to enhance the way in which it presents Noh and to expand opportunities for education about this art form, including changing performance times, holding performances with foreign language translation, and presenting Noh in the framework of a new series of cultural events, “Kamigata Traditional Performing Arts Night.” As a result, the organization has captured a new audience and has successfully proposed new possibilities for Nohgaku.

Any traditional performing art must change its form to adapt to the lifestyles of modern people while preserving the important framework and spirit of that art. It is only by doing so that these living traditions will continue to be supported by modern society. In that sense, the efforts by the Yamamoto Noh Theater have shown great success by being creative in building a framework for presenting Nohgaku. I believe that this creative method offers many hints for people working in other areas of traditional performing arts and traditional crafts.


Kengo Kuma, Architect, Professor at Tokyo University

Nohgaku is considered one of the oldest performing arts in Japan, a country where a great number of traditional performing arts exist, but unfortunately it has an image of being distant from the general lifestyle in this modern age. At a time when many of the Kansai area’s cultural centers are being shut down, I believe that the Yamamoto Noh Theater’s continued vigorous activities for the local community have been quite valuable. I also believe that the organization’s efforts to incorporate new techniques into the tradition, such as the use of LED lights on the stage, also merit recognition, and I hope that it continues to take on such new challenges.


Yuko Tanaka, Professor, Hosei University

Japan has numerous Noh theaters across the country, but many of them are solely used for the performers and aficionados of Noh and are seldom used for activities that engage the local residents. As a result, people continue to have an image of Noh as something difficult to understand. The Yamamoto Noh Theater has been making efforts to have children experience and understand Noh. Many of the elements of Noh, including the mask, costume, songs, and dance, can be physically experienced, and that is the most effective way to get close to Noh. However, it is not easy to make such activities happen due to the cost and difficulty of teaching this art. The Yamamoto Noh Theater has gained knowledge and experience in teaching methods and built a framework where anyone from elementary school students to high school students to adults can casually experience Noh. I hope that this award contributes to the efforts by the organization to secure teachers as well as to continue its activities, and that it leads to the spread of these activities to other Noh theaters across Japan so that Noh can reach beyond the borders of a Japanese classic art and become a new way of expression.


Katsuhiko Hibino, Artist and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts

In Japan, distinctive customs and cultures developed in each locality and in each generation. The traditional culture that we see today has been passed down through such a process, but it now faces a great challenge in an era of rapid changes. Yamamoto Noh Theater has gained new supporters and strengthened its work by adapting its activities to the contemporary era. The group’s progressive activities, such as educational programs for children, are very valuable.


Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center—Shinkosho Award


WajimaDozo1

A dozo is one of Japan’s traditional architectural structures, which was used during the Edo Period (1603-1868) to store valuable commodities ranging from rice to gunpowder. In Wajima, known for its lacquerware, the dozo also provided excellent space for craftsmen to work with lacquer that requires consistent temperature and humidity. In the aftermath of the 2007 earthquake in Wajima, the government’s reconstruction plan led to the destruction of the damaged dozo due to safety concerns as well as the lack of comprehensive support measures for restoring historical structures such as the dozo.WajimaDozo1 As a result, nearly 600 of them disappeared from Wajima’s landscape within a year. In response, the Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center initiated a laborious project to preserve the local history by repairing the damaged dozo. Moreover, the group has innovatively utilized dozo as community centers for educational events and concerts, as well as venues for displaying Wajima’s own extraordinary lacquerware culture. The organization has also initiated a training program for younger builders to acquire the specific expertise needed to repair the dozo. The research center’s initiatives successfully made dozo into accessible spaces for local residents to actively appreciate the region’s traditional inheritance.


WajimaDozo4 WajimaDozo5 WajimaDozo5 WajimaDozo6

Shinkosho Award: Comments from Selection Committee Members


Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum (Committee Chair)

Since the Noto Peninsula Earthquake damaged many dozo, which had traditionally been preserved in great numbers on the Noto Peninsula, the Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center has created a complete flow—covering both the hard and the soft aspects of the process—by leading an investigation on the damages to dozo, passing on techniques of plaster craftsmen in the process of renovating dozo, building a system for funding such renovation efforts, and creating new ways to use the renovated dozo.

In this geographic area, the connection between lacquerware (a famous traditional craft) and dozo runs deep. As a result, the efforts to renovate and preserve dozo have also contributed to the preservation and revival of lacquerware. Furthermore, the preservation of the scenery of the towns with the dozo will also be an important asset for tourism. The project already partners with others who engage in preservation of dozo culture in the Tohoku area, but I hope that this method will be used as a reference in other towns in the future.


Kengo Kuma, Architect, Professor at Tokyo University

This is a project whose efforts deserve recognition for effectively matching two objectives: preserving a representative industry in the Wajima area, and using that as an opportunity to train plaster craftsmen. In particular, the way in which the project turned what was a great crisis for traditional crafts as a result of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake into a new opportunity merits high praise. Last year’s Tohoku earthquake and tsunami also damaged many buildings and devastated the local industries in the Tohoku area. General volunteer activities are necessary, but I hope that this project, which focuses on skill development, becomes a starting point for similar projects to spread in other areas of Tohoku.


Yuko Tanaka, Professor, Hosei University

While I had always hoped for more development in lacquer crafts in Wajima, I realize that, like many of the traditional crafts that cannot sustain themselves alone, Wajima needs an environment where the dozo and the local community can coexist, the revitalization of the local community, visitors who stimulate the local economy, and attention from the rest of the world. The Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center has made me recognize the importance of having architecture and crafts that match the local culture. In Japan, standardized architecture is common across the country, but buildings should be the most important facility and scenery that communicate the characteristics of the area. Many dozo were destroyed by the earthquake, but Wajima Dozo Culture Renovation Center took that as an opportunity to identify new values in the dozo and enabled people to realize those values by engaging them in these renovation activities. I believe that the project’s efforts will be a great model for many towns that are hit by natural disasters.


Katsuhiko Hibino, Artist and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts

Katsuhiko Hibino, Artist and Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts When I traveled around the Noto Peninsula by boat, I was struck by the area’s beautiful scenery, featuring rows of unique traditional buildings, including the dozo. The dozo has a strong link to local industry, and it is an indispensable part of Wajima’s unique landscape. It is particularly important that the group is making special efforts to pass down the traditional techniques of plasterers in order to preserve the dozo.