Jun 4

Return on JET-vestment: JETAA Northern California’s Kabuki Club Becoming an International Resource for Japanese Performing Arts


By Mark Frey (Kumamoto-ken, 2002-06), JETAA Northern California’s Communications Coordinator and former Newsletter Editor.

JET Alumni Northern California’s Kabuki Club Becoming an International Resource for Japanese Performing Arts

The Kabuki Club of the JET Alumni Association of Northern California (JETAANC) has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a small Oakland library conference room two years ago. A handful of friends with a shared passion and interest in Kabuki gathered to study and talk about Fuji Musume, a very beautiful and popular Kabuki dance drama. Little did any of them realize that two years of hard work later the “Kabuki Club” study group would be an important part of the programming of two local cultural centers, often drawing more than 50 people from the greater San Francisco Bay Area interested in learning more about Kabuki, Noh, Bunraku, Butoh, and other Japanese performing arts.

It must have seemed just as unlikely to those first members that a small online discussion group that the group started would soon grow and encompass participants from across the U.S. and around the world. “It’s gotten to the point where students from around the world are contacting Kabuki Club for help and guidance with research projects,” said Mark Frey, director of the Kabuki Club. “Just this week we received a request from a high school student in Luxembourg looking for information about props and stagecraft in the Kabuki playSukeroku. We’re happy to help!”

The Kabuki Club has unexpectedly returned a nice dividend on the Japanese government’s investment in the JET Program, helping to promote the treasures of Japanese culture locally and to a growing worldwide audience. “While on the JET Program, so many of us were lucky enough to have Japanese friends who took time to introduce us to the unique magic and power of Japanese performing arts. It’s very gratifying now that we’re able to do the same for people all over the world. I feel like it’s a small way we can say ‘thank you’ to Japan for the joy and friendship we received,” said Mark.

Check out what JETAANC Kabuki Club is up to at http://www.jetaanc.org/kabuki.

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