The Feats of the Shichigahama Kokusaimura

[Shichigahama Kokusaimura - 30 Years of Progress]


Shichigahama Art Warriors

Aim beyond the sea!

The Shichigahama Art Warriors, an established summer tradition in Shichigahama, opened the Kokusaimura in 1993 and has been held almost every summer since. 30 years ago, culture, art and international exchange were out of the question for Shichigahama, which had a strong image as a small town centred on the fishing industry. The name was chosen by combining the words 'Art' and 'Warriors' to express the determination of not only the artists, but also the audience and staff, to participate with fierce and passionate enthusiasm in order to venture into this uncharted territory.

The Shichigahama Art Warriors logo and 1993 poster were designed by San Francisco-based calligrapher and modern artist Sio Kato. He was the first artist to join Art Warriors.

The theme reflects the times

The theme of the first Shichigahama Art Warriors was 'Jomon and the Sea'. The Jomon ruins and the sea - the history and nature representative of the town of Shichigahama - were the themes on which the artists boldly tackled the creation of original Shichigahama artworks.

Since then, we have continued to set themes that reflect the times and the goals of the Kokusaimura at that time, and to develop creative activities with an emphasis on originality in accordance with the theme.

  • 1993 Jomon and the Sea
  • 1994 Resonance of the Sea
  • 1995 Sea crossing
  • 1996 Valkyrie, Knight of the Seashore
  • 1997 Sea party Toast of the beach!
  • 1998 Hymn to the Earth Konohoshi Umare no Otanoshimi
  • 1999 Sea blue
  • 2000 South South West Wind
  • 2001 Sea rumblings
  • *2002, 2003 Art Warriors closed for the 10th anniversary of the museum
  • 2004 Sea Brilliant
  • 2005 Umihana
  • 2006 Hai Yu Min Tribe
  • 2007 Ocean is Treasure, People are Treasure
  • 2008 Colours of the sea
  • 2009 The sea, strong
  • *2010 (No theme)
  • *2011-2013 Art Warriors closed due to the earthquake.
  • 2014 Traces of Seven Coloured Brilliance
  • 2015 Seven Wishes, Seven Splendours Seven Wishes, Seven Splendours
  • 2016 Summer Colours Praise Summer
  • 2017 Shichigahama. Summer Discovery Den
  • 2018 Smile Encounter
  • 2019 Southen flowering
  • *Art Warriors closed afterwards due to the Corona disaster.

International Weeks
International Days

Synonymous with Shichigahama Kokusaimura

The International Week, an international exchange event held every year during Golden Week, is a programme that anyone can enjoy, introducing foreign culture and art from multiple perspectives, mainly through performances (stage performances), but also art, folklore, history and tourism. In particular, food stalls and workshops introducing food culture were a popular programme that started when ethnic food was still rare. Many people associate Shichigahama Kokusaimura with International Week, which is synonymous with the International Village.

Full use of Kokusaimura facilities

The programme was planned as a comprehensive programme that fully utilises the features of the facilities of the Shichigahama Kokusaimura, which can accommodate a variety of activities, including the Kokusaimura Hall, a theatre with a view of the sea, the Amphitheatre, an outdoor theatre surrounded by water, a seminar room that can accommodate parties, a food workshop, a new base for food culture, and a hand workshop where visitors can immerse themselves in authentic art and creative activities. The first International Week was planned as a comprehensive programme.

The aim was not only to introduce different cultures, but also to experience the culture of the theme countries from various angles, including performances, exhibitions, workshops, meals and shopping ....... The aim was to create a diverse programme that could be enjoyed throughout the day at the International Village, just like spending time at an amusement park. The programme is organised in such a way that visitors can enjoy the whole day at the International Village as if they were at an amusement park.

Guests invited directly from abroad

Another feature of International Week was the direct invitation of artists from abroad for stage performances and workshops. They also took part in tourism in the town and the prefecture and in exchanges with the townspeople.

Support was also received from the embassies of various countries in Tokyo, and the presence of ambassadors and other embassy representatives was a regular feature of the event.

From International Week to
To International Days

International Week was established as a 10-day event that graced the Kokusaimura, including Golden Week, but was suspended after nine editions until 2002. After nine editions until 2002, the event was suspended for a time, but in 2005, following many calls for its resumption, it was revived as International Days with the dates limited to 3-5 May.

A total of 23 countries have been represented during the nine International Weeks from 1994 to 2002 and the 15 International Days from 2005 to 2023.

Walking with Artists
30 years with pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi

Resident artists

In the early 1990s, Japan began to adopt the artist-in-residence style, in which artists stay in a certain place for a certain period of time to create and present their work. The opening project of the Kokusaimura also included an artist-in-residence programme, inviting artists not only from Japan but also from India.

Similarly, in the area of music, we were keen to meet a performer who would stay in Shichigahama, spend time rehearsing and performing, and grow together with the people of the town, and in 1992 we contacted the up-and-coming pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi for the first time.

From resident artist to
Shichigahama Cultural Ambassador

I had no contact with Ikuyo Nakamichi other than the fact that she was from Miyagi Prefecture (Sendai City), but hesitating was not the end of the story! I made a bold love call to her. His wish was answered, and Mr Nakamichi immediately came to Shichigahama, where former Mayor Hitoshi Abe showed him around the Kokusaimura, which is currently under construction. As a result, as resident artist, he kindly agreed to select the hall's piano, organise the opening concert and continue our relationship for a long time to come.

Since then, we have been active in outreach, not only with annual concerts, but also with special programmes for children, piano instruction and school visits. In recognition of these achievements, she was awarded the Shichigahama Order of Merit for Education and Culture at the 60th anniversary ceremony of the town's administration in 2018, and at the same time was appointed Shichigahama Cultural Ambassador.

Pianist Ikuyo NakamichiLearn through
The charm of classical music

Mr Nakamichi's plans for the Kokusaimura include a mix of programmes aimed at classical music beginners and in-depth explorations of the appeal of classical music, which can be seen as a long-term plan to deepen the classical music knowledge of the Kokusaimura audience.

Concerts with young performers as guests

A long-term programme that not only delivers fresh performances, but also allows guest young performers to return to the Kokusaimura concerts in a few years' time and for the audience to watch their development.

Children's programme

Concerts incorporating elements of theatre, "Ikuyo Nakamichi's Music School", piano concerts for children, "Star Animals", art appreciation programmes for elementary and junior high schools, school visits, etc.

Programme that delves deeply into the appeal of classical music through mature performances.

Concerts with a programme structure focusing on composers, such as the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas performances held eight times from 2008 to 2016, the Chopin Series from 2017 to 2021 and the All Brahms Programme Concert in 2023.

The town of Shichigahama and Ikuyo Nakamichi

On 30 May 2011, more than two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Kokusaimura Hall, which had been renovated and safety-checked, received its first audience since the disaster. Taking the stage were Ms Nakamichi and her eldest daughter, Makoto, a flutist. The packed audience was greatly empowered by Ms Nakamichi's gentle narration and powerful performance.

Junior high school students in the town are always exposed to Ms Nakamichi's live performances while at school. This is because the town's two junior high schools (Shichigahama Junior High School and Koyo Junior High School) jointly organise an art appreciation class for third-year junior high school students every year.

For primary schools students, outreach (music classes) are held every year for sixth-graders. Thanks to this, there are fewer children in Shichigahama who find classical music 'boring' or 'difficult'.

Mr Nakamichi also gives one-point lessons to children who play the piano, helping to foster not only the development of appreciators but also performers.

The encounter between Ms Ikuyo Nakamichi, a pianist active on the world stage, and the Shichigahama Kokusaimura has made classical music accessible to the people of Shichigahama. Together with Ms Nakamichi, we will continue to nurture classical music fans in Shichigahama and create an art scene in the town.

Townspeople's Participation

Musicals with the participation of townspeople

Since its opening in 1993, the Kokusaimura has aimed to enhance 'projects in which the townspeople can participate' and has actively provided opportunities for the townspeople to come into direct contact with professional talent, such as performances with Eio Kanze as a chorus for outdoor performances and exchange parties with the artists.

One of the most important programmes was the "Shichigahama Kokusaimura Exclusive Chorus", formed by the Niki Kai Chorus under the leadership of Noriyoshi Shimose, who sang, danced and performed on stage with the Niki Kai soloists in a musical with the participation of the townspeople.

The 'Townspeople's Participation Musical' started in November 1993 with 'My Fair Lady Highlights' and continued to perform at the Kokusaimura Hall every November until 2000, with a wide range of townspeople, from children to seniors, men and women, taking to the stage at the Kokusaimura Hall.

In the Shichigahama Kokusaimura,
The townspeople do not just sit in the audience as spectators,
They also take the stage themselves,
and interact with the artists,
The aim is to enable them to participate in the Kokusaimura programme.

Torchlight Corps

The main event at the opening of the Kokusaimura was the 'Feast of the Gods: Festival of Earth and Fire', supervised and performed by Eio Kanze. Children from the town performed the torchlight troupe that brought to life the ethereal world of Kanze's dances at the amphitheatre. For the safety of the children with naked torches in their hands, they were supported by the town hall staff.

The opening of the Kokusaimura was not only attended by those who filled the auditorium, but also by many town people on stage and backstage.

Exchange party

The Kokusaimura made it a rule to hold an exchange party with the audience after the performance. It may have been a burden for the artists, but they generally seemed to have a good time.

The fresh impression of seeing the artists, who had only seen them on TV screens, on stage in the hall of the Kokusaimura and being able to talk to them directly - it was an opportunity to show the townspeople, who were not familiar with stage performances, how to enjoy stage performances and the meaning and attraction of the Kokusaimura.

Involvement Team

The Kokusaimura volunteer team, the Involvement Team, was established at the same time as the Kokusaimura opened and has been active for nearly 10 years. They have been an indispensable part of the IKokusaimura activities. In addition to supporting preparations on the day of performances and backstage catering, the team published a newsletter, WaiWai Antenna, which provided event reports based on their own research.

She was also active as an entertainer, dressing up as a commoner in Edo during the Koedo Festival and treating visitors.