2018 / Japan’s princess to lecture about role of arts in international relationships at museum event in Detroit, June 12

Japan’s Princess Akiko of Mikasa will give a talk on how arts and culture have fostered relationships between the U.S. and Japan on June 12 at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan. This program will be open to the public.

Princess Akiko is a scholar of Japanese art, and she holds a doctorate from University of Oxford. Princess Akiko will visit Detroit in June but this is not her official state visit. She will be in the U.S. for conducting research on the role art can play in strengthening ties between countries.

Princess Akiko’s talk is a part of a celebration of Japanese art event at the Detroit Institute of Art which is presented by the museum and the Japanese Business Society of Detroit on Tuesday, June 12.

A celebration of Japanese art event consists of a symposium focusing on the role of arts and culture, artist demonstrations and a display of the historic Japanese doll which was sent to Detroit from Japan in 1927.

The symposium with the title of “The Interconnections through Art and Culture: American Museum and the Building of U.S.-Japan Relationship” will be held at the museum’s auditorium from 10 a.m. to noon.

The speakers of a panel discussion includes Takashi Omitsu of JBSD; Katherine Kasdorf, DIA curator of the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World; Alison Jean, DIA interpretive specialist; Natsu Oyobe, curator of Asian art at University of Michigan Museum of Art; and William Colburn, executive director of Wayne State University’s historic Charles Lang Freer House.

With the title of “What is Cultural Exchange: Possibility of Japanese Art in the U.S.,” Princess Akiko will follow the panel discussion and lecture about how arts and culture have historically fostered, and continue to foster, relationships between the U.S. and Japan.

“The Japanese community in metro Detroit is so honored to have Princess Akiko in the symposium at the DIA,” said Omitsu of the Japanese Business Society of Detroit. “I am very excited to hear about her extensive research into how art can facilitate strong ties between the U.S. and Japan.”

Japanese doll maker Master Kokan Fujimura shown at Japan Cultural Days at Detroit Institute of Arts in November 2017. (Cultural News Photo)

From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Great Hall, two Japanese master artists will demonstrate their crafts: Master Kokan Fujimura will demonstrate the art of doll-making, an important cultural tradition in Japan; and Master Chihiro Kawakami will show how Japanese cloth known as tenugui is created.

Highlight of the display will be a couple of historic Japanese girl doll and a new male doll: a Japanese Friendship Doll, Miss Fukiko Akita, given to the Detroit Children’s Museum in 1927, and a new male Friendship Doll crafted by Master Fujimura.

Japanese Friendship Dolls were created in 1927 by the Japanese Committee for World Friendship Among Children in response to 12,739 “blue-eyed dolls” sent by American children to Japan.

To reciprocate, master Japanese artists created extremely detailed dolls with accessories appropriate to each doll and her home prefecture, showing the culture of a Japanese child of the time. Fifty-eight Japanese dolls were made, representing Japan’s 47 prefectures, four territories, six major cities and one “national” doll.

Detroit Children’s Museum received one of the dolls, Miss Fukiko Akita, who represents a young Japanese girl with a traditional hairstyle made of human hair. Her realistic face, hands and feet are coated with a mixture of pulverized oyster shell and glue polished to a high sheen. Her kimono is hand-printed, hand-painted and hand-embroidered.

Miss Akita came with accessories such as a passport, boarding ticket from the ship that brought her, and a letter from Japanese children.

All events are free with museum admission. The Detroit Institute of Arts is located at 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202. (313) 833-7900.  www.dia.org