Azuki Foundation participated in the 1st edition of The Culture, Health and Wellbeing international Conference in Bristol, 23-26 June 2013.
At a keynote speech, we presented Sizzle Ohtaka, one of the most sought after singers in Japan.
Sizzle Ohtaka is an internationally acclaimed singer without borders, Sizzle has collaborated with artists in films, paintings, book recitations and dances. In 1994 Sizzle performed at the closing ceremony of Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Her recent works include performing for Northern Lights Festival in Tromsø, Kazakhstan Jazz Festival, Song Festival in Estonia as the first foreigner in the history of the festival.
In 2004, Sizzle recorded an album Furusato with the Ellerhein Girls Choir, which won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. Currently, Sizzle leads improvisation workshops called, Voice Drawing and regularly appears in Nihongo de Asobo (Let s Play with Japanese) on NHK s Educational Channel. Sizzle is actively involved in projects for older people at day care centres across Japan, as well as concert projects for victims of domestic violence and for victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Sizzle also regularly visits centres for children with special needs, and leprosy patient’s houses.
She presented Tin Saguna Hana, “Flowers In Heaven”, is an example of Okinawa Folk music. Okinawa is famous for the longevity of the inhabitants; individuals live longer on this Japanese island than anywhere else in the world. Five times as many Okinawans live to be 100 as in the rest of Japan, and the Japanese are the longest-lived nationality in the world. Tin sagunu hana is another name for Jewelweed or garden Balsam, and also means light or sun.
“In search of the Lost Jewel of Life – singing and old people”
I am always surprised that older people suffering from dementia and memory loss can remember the lyrics of songs they learnt in the past.
Singing seems to evoke their emotions freely and they laugh and cry like children. I think that releasing emotions is an important method of healing because people can return to their lost past and find their own jewel of life. It is an amazing and precious gift. At my workshops I tell participants “If you concentrate on singing, your immune system will improve, so keep singing !” It is important for us all to experience something new.
Older people tend to be more open to new experiences as they are less defensive and they have a special ability to go back to being pure and innocent. Learning new songs can be a fresh and exciting discovery making their lives richer and worthwhile. Singing is medicine for the ear and it fills people with the feeling “I am happy to live”.
Akiko Yanagisawa/Akaka Furukawa (dance artist)
“Strings between older people and Japanese Arts”
Bon dance, otedama and ayatori are gentle physical activities performed in groups which research has shown improves the health and wellbeing of older people. They help alleviate depression and dementia. Our unique programme is designed to stimulate the imagination, provides outlets for people’s creativity and introduces them to a different culture. The sessions will be interactive and communal thus helping participants avoid isolation. Bon dance and otedama provide gentle physical exercise, ayatori involves manipulation of the fingers; all involve concentration. Bon dance, otedama and ayatori provide a framework for people to learn, discover new aspects of themselves and connect with other people.