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Webinar - Taking a New Look at Japanese Culture and Locality through International Eyes

By Japan Up Close
March 08, 2023

Event date:

Monday, March 13, 2023
9:00 pm - 10:15 pm (Japan Standard Time)
7:00 am – 8:15 am (US Eastern Standard Time)
9:00 am – 10:15 am (Brasilia Standard Time)
1:00-pm – 2:15 pm (Central Europe Time) 


Local traditional crafts and nature in Japan are attracting attention. Beautiful and atmospheric nature is an attraction of Japan, and its preservation is becoming increasingly important. On the other hand, traditional Japanese crafts supported by artisanal skills are also attracting keen attention as an important culture. Strengthening cultural branding contributes to smooth diplomacy, but how does the dissemination of Japanese culture from local to global contribute to dialogue in the international community? Experts from North America, South America, and Europe will discuss. In order to promote a better understanding of this issue, Japan Up Close has hosted a special online seminar, “Taking a New Look at Japanese Culture and Locality through International Eyes,” bringing together scholars from Japan, the US, Europe, and South America for an open discussion on bringing Japanese culture to the world.

Registration URL:


Alex Kerr (Moderator)
Alex Kerr is an author and restorer of old Japanese houses. Born in 1952 in Bethesda Maryland, he came to Japan as a child in 1964, and has been based in Kameoka, near Kyoto, since 1977.  He studied Japanese at Yale, Chinese as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and has also traveled widely in Southeast Asian. He writes in both English and in Japanese. His books include Lost Japan (published originally in Japanese in 1993, it won the Shincho Gakugei Literary Prize, the first awarded to a non-Japanese); Dogs and Demons (2001); Living in Japan (2006); Theory of Japanese, Landscape (2014); Another Kyoto (2016); Destroying the Nation with Tourism (2019); and Japan Pilgrimage (2020 in Japanese, to be published in English as Hidden Japan in Aug 2023). 

Starting with “Chiiori,” a 300-year old thatched roofed house which he bought while still in college in 1973, Alex has gone on to restore over forty old houses in towns around Japan. He speaks widely in Japanese as well as English on rural revival and town planning, sustainable tourism, Japanese art, and landscape.

Since 2008, he has been designated a Visit Japan Ambassador by the Tourism Agency; in 2019 he received the Commissioner's Commendation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. 

Steve Beimel
Steve Beimel, a native Californian who has been involved with the Japanese culture since the early 1970s.  In 2018, he founded JapanCraft21 as a way to address the rapid deterioration of Japan's legendary master craft tradition.  In addition to holding annual Japan Traditional Craft Revitalization contests which identify and support talented and motivated crafts people, JC21 helped establish Shinmachiya Juku, a free-of-charge school in Kyoto that teaches advanced traditional building skills to working carpenters, plasterers and gardeners. 

Steve also produces online educational seminars to help educate people around the world about Japanese crafts and culture. He recently retired from Esprit Travel and Tours, a U.S.-based Japanese culture-focused tour company that he founded in 1992 (www.esprittravel.com). In that role, he connected international travelers directly with the richness and beauty of Japanese culture.

Silvia Sasaoka
Silvia Sasaoka has earned a PhD in Design and a Master of Design from UNESP - State University of São Paulo. Silvia has experience in curating and coordinating projects for over 35 years bringing together design professionals and craft communities. She helps organizations, companies and the public sector in the implementation of projects for social and economic sustainability of communities. Researched about Mingei- traditional Japanese folk crafts under Japan Foundation Fellowship program in 2002 and produced a short documentary "In search of the folk crafts of Japan".

She is the representative of the Chikaken (Japan) in Brazil for the Take-Akari Bamboo Lantern Festival (since 2021). She is co-founder of the Botucatu Institute, develops projects aimed at achieving Sustainable Development through the bamboo production chain projects and education for sustainability.

Rossella Menegazzo
Rossella Menegazzo is Associate Professor of East Asian Art History at the University of Milan since 2012, after completing her studies and Ph.D. in Oriental Studies (History of Japanese art) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and is Advisor of the (AAD) Advanced Art Design Course, (RCAST) Research Center for Advanced Science & Technology, The University of Tokyo. She has participated in and organised numerous international symposiums, the latest of which is “JAPAN DESIGN. Arts beyond the borders” (University of Milan/ Ishibashi Foundation, October 2022)). She has curated many exhibitions and catalogues on Japanese arts, photography and design in collaboration with major Italian and international museums and publishers.

Some of her most recent projects include: “Enchanted Worlds: Hokusai, Hiroshige and the Art of Edo Japan” (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland, New Zealand, 2020); “Hiroshige. Visions from Japan” (Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome 2018, catalogue: Skira); “Japanese Renaissance. Paintings of Nature on Japanese XIV-XVII Centuries Screens” (Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence 2017, catalogue: Giunti); “Hokusai Hiroshige Utamaro” (Palazzo Reale, Milan 2016, catalogue: Skira). 

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