Resource: Japan Artists Information Directory (JAID)

Paula just alerted me to the existence of this new and exciting resource. The Japan Artists Information Directory (JAID) is a website organized by the Five College Consortium (based in Western Massachusetts), listing teachers and practitioners of Japanese traditional arts based here in the United States.

Up until now, so far as I am aware, finding teachers or performers in the Japanese traditional arts has been mostly by word-of-mouth. I spent this past summer in NY, and was looking to keep practicing / studying sanshin (Okinawa shamisen), which I had picked up the previous year at my university; I ended up finding a great sanshin teacher, but only because a blogger I follow mentioned that there would be a sanshin performance at a “Japan Block Fair” going on in the city. Had I known of a directory like JAID, I might not have had to rely so much on connections and word-of-mouth – not to mention sheer luck.

The website is only just getting started, but already it lists nearly 200 individuals/groups all across the country (and some in Canada). This could be quite useful for anyone looking for a teacher to study under, or a performer to invite for a performance/workshop.

You can search by name (alphabetically), or by region, clicking on the map to go more specifically down to artists in a particular state, and you can also search by genre. The directory currently covers performing arts almost exclusively, but covers a broad range from musicians (with separate categories for biwa, shamisen, Tsugaru shamisen, fue, gagaku, koto, etc.) to dancers (e.g. Nihon Buyo, Butoh), to theatrical performers (e.g. Noh, Kabuki), to those practicing arts such as Chanoyu and Ikebana, as well as those practicing or teaching Okinawan performing arts. A miscellaneous “Other Arts” category currently includes, among others, a practitioner of traditional woodblock printing, a number of voice teachers, a ceramics artist, and a specialist in parapara dancing.

The site has only first been launched within the last few weeks, but I am hoping it will grow to incorporate a good majority of the prominent teachers and performers in the country. Right now, very few of the artists I have heard of or studied under are included in the directory, but if they and others add themselves, this could become an excellent resource for finding teachers or performers.

The directly appears to be exclusively “opt-in,” so if you are a teacher or practitioner of traditional arts, please take a moment to contact the organizers at jaid@fivecolleges.edu, or to submit an artist application, and ask your teachers or friends & colleagues if they would be interested in joining.

About Travis

I am a scholar of Japanese & Okinawan history with a particular interest in the history of arts and culture, and inter-Asia interactions, in the early modern period. I have been fortunate to enjoy the opportunity to live in Okinawa for six months in 2016-17, and in mainland Japan on multiple occasions, including from Sept 2019 to now.
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