Leaving Our Comfort Zone

On the same day Tropical Cyclone Lua hit the north west coast of Western Australia, we held our fundraising event art, music & food for buddhism. It was tropical cyclones like Lua which killed many pearlers who had worked in Broome’s dangerous pearling industry since the late 1800‘s. The fundraising event successfully raised enough funds for Reverend Shigenobu Watanabe from Hongwanji Buddhist Mission of Australia  to conduct kuyo at the Japanese Cemetery in Broome, the final resting place for over 900 Japanese pearlers and their descendants. Kuyo is a ceremonial offering and prayer for the deceased. Holding a kuyo is only one of the things that the Indigenous-Japanese community in […]

Suijin – The Water Deity

One cold night in Tokyo Yumi Umiumare performed at Yudo, an old Japanese house in Mejiro used as an art gallery and gig space. Yudo means well in old Tohoku dialect. Water from Koshu run slowly underground to Yudo where suijin, the water god  is enshrined in its main tatami room. Mesmerised by her every movement, we gathered and watched Yumi dance to the haunting vocals of Kyoko Earthvoice, Masa Yamaguchi’s primordial percussion and Masaaki Aoyama’s meditative guitar and shakuhachi. Mysterious energy seemed to surround us in orange glow of naked light globes and kerosene heaters with a kettle on top, steaming spring water for our tea after the show. I sat […]


My friend Wakako gave birth to Shihoko earlier this year. Dancer Wakako Asano and I have been collaborating on our project In Repose, which involved creating site specific performances in Japanese cemeteries around Australia in remote locations such as Townsville, Broome and Thursday Island. She had told us when we first began our project that exploring death and returning to earth through burial was an important process and a part of understanding and giving birth. During the four years we worked together, although Wakako and her husband Tatsunosuke tried, they were not blessed with a baby. Finally after four years and just after our last performance in Adelaide at the OzAsia Festival, […]

From a composer to Mandalay Grandpa

Chinkon was originally composed by composer Mark Isaacs in 2006 especially for Satsuki Odamura‘s bass koto for our project In Repose. This year I added images to Chinkon, and  a version dedicated to the victims of the recent disaster in Japan had been created. This morning I posted a news item on my news page announcing the opening of an exhibition of  the video work, Chinkon at the Brunswick Street Gallery in Melbourne tonight. I also made public the work through YouTube and notified Satsuki and Mark that I had done so. Thus I received the following email from Mark, which with his permission I have reproduced here: “I dedicated […]

Japanese internees

The Japanese Cemetery in Cowra is known because it is where the Japanese soldiers who died during the famous Cowra Breakout are buried. It is less known that about third of the people buried in the cemetery were civilians of Japanese origin and or diaspora who died whilst in internment during WWII. The history of Japanese internment in Australia during WWII has not seen much light of the day in the wider community. Some of those interned were members of the Indigenous communities in places like Broome and Thursday Island. Others were civilians from New Caledonia, Indonesia and New Hebrides. Unlike in Canada or United States, there have been no […]