February 2009: JET Effect Spotlight

“[The NAMASTE Art Exhibition] was envisaged to be an opportunity where foreigners and Japanese in Aomori can work together as a community to support the education of disadvantaged and impoverished children. We are using art as a medium because expression through art and the appreciation thereof is universal,” Wyomia Mouwers says of the event she organized for the first time this year with the help of members of local JET charity organization Everest of Apples.

The event was an exhibition of the work of local artists, followed by an auction for the pieces. The funds raised through the auction went toward education-focused charitable organizations in Cambodia and Nepal.

Largely thanks to the promotional help of the local JET community, both Japanese and Western artists generously donated 50 original artworks to the charity event. The artworks spanned a wide variety of genres, including calligraphy, pottery, photography, screen-printing, tapestry, and animation, but all were connected through a theme that embraces international unity: NAMASTE.

Namaste EventThe pieces were displayed at the well-known Denega Art Gallery in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture. The event launched on a Friday night with a cocktail party where guests were invited to dress their best, sip wine, and nibble on hors d’oeuvres while perusing the gallery and bidding on live art created during the event.

The organizers were pleased to have accomplished the goals they set out with, which were “to have an event that involves the local community and raise funds,” said Wyomia Mouwers. They sold the majority of the artworks and were able to raise about 240,000 yen in proceeds, all of which will help children in need.

The event was created with the support of the Aomori and Akita JET charity organization Everest of Apples, which provides education development aid from Japan’s apple-producing region to the needy communities surrounding Everest. The NAMASTE Art Exhibition is one of many JET-organized projects that contributes to Everest of Apples (http://www.everestofapples.jetsetjapan.com/)

Namaste EventSimilar projects have been carried out by JETs and their communities across Japan, such as a photography exhibition run by a JET ALT in Kumamoto Prefecture who was able to gain the support of his Prefectural Office and local town halls. Involving the local community ensures the endurance of these kinds of events.

This project’s success is rooted in the universal language of art. Many JETs come to Japan with an artistic background and form a unique perspective on a culture they encounter with fresh eyes. Combined with Japan’s long tradition of deep appreciation for art, art becomes a powerful medium for international communication.

To get more information about this project or about organizing a similar project, please contact

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