A question raised by dramatic art “the future of us living with foreigners in Japanese society”
Founded in 1950, “Gekidan Mingei” has been leading the theater world in Japan.
In September 2019, the theater company will show a play, “Ihojin (literally means foreigners),” which depicts the interaction between foreign workers and a Japanese family under the theme of “symbiosis with foreigners.” This time, the att.JAPAN editorial group was specially permitted to watch the practice of the theater company.
“Ihojin” will be shown at Kinokuniya Southern Theater TAKASHIMAYA from September 26 (Thu) to October 7 (Mon), 2019. The play depicts the interaction between Japanese and Vietnamese technical interns at a small diner in a town.
Akihito Nakatsuru, the creator and producer of the play, proposes a challenge of “symbiosis with foreigners” lurking in Japanese society as a social problem which is actually very close to Japanese people.
As “Specified Skilled Worker” has been established as a new residency status this year, I feel the presence of foreign workers very closely who are needed at work sites perpetually short handed and I think they are more needed than ever before. With an increasing number of foreigners in Japan, I would like to think together with Japanese people about symbiosis with foreigners, in which the foreigners are simply a kind of ‘labor’ or as ‘individuals.’ I also believe that we will see the true nature of Japanese, that is, what kind of people Japanese are, through the symbiosis with foreigners.” says Nakatsuru.
The play is set in a small diner.
Fumie Kashiyama, who plays the main character, Sanae, the wife of the chef, says about the recent changes in Japanese society “I have been feeling very strongly the fact that there are more and more foreigners around me who cannot communicate in Japanese.” She also says, “since I got a role in this play, I started wanting to interact with foreigners with sincere efforts and careful words, even though there may be some conflicts. I am getting more concrete ideas about what I can do for the foreigners who left their countries and live in Japan with very different cultures, by understanding how insecurely they must feel. I believe that the resilient spirit that the foreigners bring to Japan should have a significant positive impact on the younger generation of Japan.”
The essence of the play: the presence of Vietnamese technical interns
Yushi Iwatani plays Chien, one of the technical interns in this play. He has been diligently learning Vietnamese at a Vietnamese class, as it is very hard to master the language where small differences in tones and pronunciation changes the meaning. Having a Korean mother, Iwatani talked about the possibilities that dramatic art may bring to younger people by saying “it was very hard for me to see my Korean parents were discriminated against. I really want students and younger generations, who are sensitive to bullies and discrimination, to watch this play.”
The number of foreigners has recently been increasing and Japanese society accepts them.
What is required for the symbiosis between Japanese and foreigners with different cultures? This play may give us some insights into the question.
A play “Ihojin” by Mingei Theater Company
September 26 (Thu) – October 7 (Mon), 2019
Kinokuniya Southern Theater TAKASHIMAYA (Shinjuku South Exit)
One stage per day. The play starts at 18:30 on September 26, October 2, and October 4, and at 13:30 on other days.
For adults, 6,300 yen (4,200 yen for a night performance). For those under 25, 3,150 yen. For high school students and younger, 1,000 yen. The advance tickets are available now.
To purchase a ticket, please call Gekidan Mingei (044-987-7711) or access theater ticket agencies, such as Ticket Pia, Lawson Ticket, and e+.
Gekidan Mingei website: http://www.gekidanmingei.co.jp/
*The information herein is as of September 2019.