Arts for the people

Updated: Dec 14, 2017, 11:27 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Twenty-five years after a performance in Mumbai, one of the largest global promoters of performing arts from Japan returns with a folk troupe

War wounds run deep. The third president of the Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist association with more than 12 million members across the world, Daisaku Ikeda was on a visit to India and Southeast Asian countries in 1961. Throughout his travel across the battlefields of Burma (now Myanmar), where he had lost his elder brother to the Second World War, one thought refused to leave him: what could be done to help humanity break free from the shackles of war and what could act as the glue that keeps it together, transcending borders. The Japanese national found his answer in cultural exchange through music and the performing arts, and thus was born the Min-On Concert Association in 1963.

(Above and below) Folk dance performances organised by Min-On Concert Association
(Above and below) Folk dance performances organised by Min-On Concert Association

Over the years, Min-On, which translates to people's music in Japanese, has become one of the largest private, nonprofit promoters of the performing arts in the world, supported by more than a million sustaining members throughout Japan. With over 800 performances in a year, the organisation takes traditional, modern, classical and popular acts from Japan to the world and invites cultural troupes of varying genres from across the globe to 300 Japanese cities, as a way of promoting peace and mutual understanding.

Daisaku Ikeda
Daisaku Ikeda

After the last performance it brought to Mumbai in 1993, the organisation returns to the city with a dance and music troupe specialising in Japanese folk art forms. "The performance will feature instruments such as the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and narimono (Japanese percussion), and the traditional music of Tsugaru Shamisen. Select folk dances from across the country are also part of the line-up," informs Aakash Ouchi, a representative of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and organiser of the Min-On programmes in India along with the India Council of Cultural Relations. The current performance is part of 2017 – The Year of Japan-India Friendly Exchanges.

Arts for the people

"The organisation will also make a pit stop at St Xavier's College, where students and the troupe will present performances of 30 minutes each," says actor-producer Devika Shahani, a representative of the Indian affiliate of SGI. The college is part of an exchange programme with an institute under the Min-On umbrella. In the past, several eminent Indian artistes, including Sonal Mansingh, Leela Samson, Alarmel Valli and Uma Dogra have travelled to the country as part of cultural exchange. Stalwarts such as Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Ravi Shankar were also part of a music festival of India in Japan. Ikeda, who won the United Nations Peace Award in 1983, has often expressed the power of music as an art form that speaks directly to the heart. "This response," he says, "this echo within the heart, is proof that human hearts can transcend the barriers of time and space and nationality."

On : December 14, 7 pm to 8 pm
At : Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call : 22824567

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