In 1983, Hirokazu Kosaka shot the first arrow of “Kotohajime 事始め”. The event has grown to become the JACCC’s signature New Year’s celebration. Literally meaning “the beginning of things,” the memorable 40th Kotohajime will celebrate 2023, the Year of the Hare with the theme Hatsu-U or “First Rabbit."
Rabbits, so cute and docile, are one of the animals which the Japanese are most familiar with. In Japan, rabbits represent fortune, luck, and cleverness, they are also messengers for gods. They are also known for fertility and productivity.
This year, JACCC will cooperate with internationally acclaimed violinist Ken Aiso, pianist Valeria Morgovskaya, Kimono Organization Nadeshikokai, Honorable Fujima Kansuma, and a dance group from Colburn School.
Funded in part by the generosity of The Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), City of Los Angeles.
Ken Aiso, an internationally acclaimed violinist, has performed worldwide as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician. Mr. Aiso graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying with Erich Gruenberg. He has been invited to renowned music festivals in the UK, France, Sweden, Switzerland, India, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, and Georgia. Equally at home with modern and period instruments, Mr. Aiso has appeared as principal violinist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the London Philharmonic. He is a laureate of the Long-Thibaud International Competition (Paris) and the International Music Competition of Japan. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London and received the Shimousa Kan-ichi Music Award. He was born in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Aiso currently serves as a Professor of Violin and Viola/Director of String Ensemble at Loyola Marymount University, and Adjunct Faculty at La Sierra University. His belief in sound as a healing medium has led him to extend his outreach into many hospitals, schools, senior residences, and institutions for children with special needs.
Valeria Morgovskaya, pianist, graduated from the Kiev State Conservatory. Since her immigration to the US in 1990, Ms. Morgovskaya has been in high demand as an accompanist and has been an official accompanist to festivals and courses such as the Piatigorsky Cello Seminar and Beverley Hills Music Festival. She has performed throughout the US, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, and Georgia, and has been heard on numerous live radio broadcasts. She has provided accompaniment for many national and international competitions and was an official accompanist at the Schoenfeld International String Competition in Hong Kong (2013) and Harbin (2014). She was born in Kiev, Ukraine. Ms. Morgovskaya is currently a staff accompanist at Loyola Marymount University and UCLA, and has been engaged in that capacity at USC, Cal State University Long Beach, the Colburn School, the Montecito International Music Festival, the Academy of the West and Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts.
Fujima Kansuma is no ordinary figure. Surmounting a series of challenges and discouragements, her long career reflects extraordinary focus and commitment to her art. Born Sumako Hamaguchi in San Francisco in 1918, she aspired to be a kabuki dancer from a very early age. She began her training in the United States when she was nine years old but moved to Japan after high school to study with the renowned Kabuki dancer Onoe Kikugoro VI. She immersed herself in the study of Japanese culture and arts learning to play kabuki theatre instruments such as the shamisen and narimono.
In 1938, she received her natori or professional certification and was given the professional name of Fujima Kansuma by the foremost choreographer of Kabuki dance, Fujima Kanjuro VI. Upon her return to the states, Kansuma established her first studio in her father’s Los Angeles hotel. When the U.S. entered World War II, she and her family, along with 110,000 other West Coast Japanese Americans were forced into War Relocation Authority Concentration camps. Sent to Rohwer, Arkansas, Kansuma remarkably continued her dance career, performing and teaching in several of the other camps. Her Rohwer performance in the role of Tange Sazen, a samurai severely disabled in battle, is legendary among those who were in attendance, providing, as it did, a glimpse of hope, perseverance, and beauty during a distressing time.
When the war ended, Fujima Kansuma returned to Los Angeles and reopened her studio. Over the years, she has taught several generations of students not just a repertoire of dances, but an entire complex of skills and sensitivities including the etiquette of Japanese traditional arts. She also developed her own professional troupe, the Fujima Kansuma Kai who have performed at such venues as the Hollywood Bowl, Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Music Center, Pageant of the Masters, and numerous Hollywood movies. Today at 104, she continues to teach her beloved students, 50 of whom have received their natori or professional certification striving to continue her legacy.
She is the recipient of the Order of the Precious Crown, Apricot from the Japanese Government, and the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Colburn School was established in 1950 as a preparatory arm of the USC Thornton School of Music. It was originally located across the street from the Shrine Auditorium, in a warehouse that had been converted into extra USC practice rooms, rehearsal halls, and dance studios. It later broadened its mission and changed its name to the Community School of Performing Arts. In 1980, it finalized its split with USC and branched out on its own.
In 1985, the school received a significant endowment from Richard D. Colburn and was subsequently renamed in his honor. The school moved from its original location near the USC campus to its current location in downtown Los Angeles in 1998. Five years later, the Colburn Conservatory of Music was established to provide tertiary music education with a unique all-scholarship model. In 2010, the school opened the Colburn Music Academy, a highly selective program designed for young pre-collegiate musicians.
In 2014, the Colburn Dance Academy was launched as the pre-professional ballet program of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute. The Early Dance, Children’s Dance, Young Adult Dance, and Adult Dance Programs at Colburn are all part of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute (TZDI), which also includes the Dance Academy, a rigorous ballet training program for young people ages 14–18. Led by Dean Silas Farley and Associate Dean Darleen Callaghan, the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute is dedicated to developing the individual gifts, talents, and interests of each of its students.
Nadeshikokai Kimono Organization
Nadeshikokai, Japanese Culture and Traditions, Inc., is a volunteer-run non-profit organization that was established in 2011 to promote and preserve Japanese culture and traditions by Ms. Takako Sasaki. We strive to honor and serve the communities of culturally diverse groups in the greater Los Angeles area. Our members and volunteers participate in events and perform various functions whose purpose is to promote and transmit Japanese culture, specifically the kimono culture, to the communities as well as to the next generation. Our organization covers a broad range of activities, such as helping other Japanese organizations and events. We are very proud of our Coming-of-Age Ceremony. It is a long-held tradition in Japan which celebrates everyone who reaches 20 years old.
Our founder, Ms. Sasaki, organized the ceremony in 2013, the first ever held in the Los Angeles area. The ceremony has been held annually since then and the 2022 ceremony will be our 10th anniversary. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our style of celebration was altered to accommodate the needs and requirements of the community in 2021. However, we are very happy to celebrate the Coming-of-Age ceremony this year in person with limits designed to ensure health and safety. Hopefully, we will be able to resume our traditional program soon.
We plan to continue our activities in the area so that many people will be well acquainted with and appreciate the beautiful Japanese culture, especially kimono culture.
Hirokazu Kosaka leads Los Angeles Kyudo Kai to perform the 40th Annual Kotohajime at Koyasan Temple. The group is a part of the Los Angeles Kyudo Kai archery founded in 1916 here in Little Tokyo. The archery range was at the present LA police station. In 2023, the group will celebrate its 106th anniversary. The art of Archery is both sacred and tangible. Dating back to the 11th Century, it has been used as an art of purification in ceremonies within the Imperial Court of Japan, Buddhist temples, and shrines. To accomplish a perfect shot, one must have immediate action without any intervening thoughts. The Los Angeles Kyudo kai regularly meets at the Angeles Gate Dojo in San Pedro.