Sunday, October 23, 2005

Penerbitan Buku Puisi Aceh

Japan Aceh Net (JAN) mendukung upaya penerbitan dua macam
buku yang akan diluncurkan pada HUT Pertama Bencana Tsunami
yaitu 26 Desember 2005, dengan inisiatif rekan-rekan di
Aceh. Koran lokal Serambi Indonesia memberitakan hal ini
sebagai yang berikut.


Serambi Indonesia

Kamis, 20 Oktober 2005
Rubrik: Kutaraja

JAN-ASA Terbitkan Buku Puisi "Lagu Kelu"

BANDA ACEH - Japan Aceh Net (JAN) bekerjasama dengan Aliansi
Sastrawan Aceh (ASA) akan segera menerbitkan antologi puisi
penyair Aceh serta beberapa penyair tamu dari Medan, Jakarta,
Solo, dan Malang. Buku ini dijadwalkan terbit pada peringatan
setahun tsunami.

Koordinator ASA, Doel CP Allisah menginformasikan, antologi
puisi tersebut akan diterbitkan dalam dua edisi. Untuk edisi
bahasa Indonesia dicetak di Jakarta, sedangkan edisi bahasa
Jepang/Inggris dicetak oleh pihak JAN di Tokyo, Jepang.

Menurut Doel, hingga saat ini telah terkumpul lebih 300 sajak
dari 48 penyair dan sudah diseleksi oleh satu tim. Dalam buku
yang akan diterbitkan itu, juga akan memuat puisi dari para
penyair Aceh yang telah tiada dengan terlebih dahulu menghubungi
/meminta izin ahli warisnya.

"Selain itu, kita juga akan memuat karya penyair ternama Aceh
yang telah meninggal sebelum tsunami," kata Doel.

Antologi yang akan diterbitkan itu, selain bercerita tentang
kedahsyatan tsunami Aceh juga akan berkisah tentang tempat-
tempat bersejarah, kota-kota maupun kawasan yang telah hilang
disapu bencana.

Dalam buku itu nantinya akan ditemukan bagaimana tempat-tempat
itu telah menjadi kenangan dan sekaligus suasana batin para
penyair Aceh ketika melihat kenyataan bahwa Aceh telah beribah

"Peluncuran buku ini akan dilakukan di Kyodo atau Tokyo dan
juga di Banda Aceh bersamaan dengan peringatan setahun tsunami,"
demikian Doel CP Allisah mengutip Seiichi Okawa dari JAN.(nas)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kokoro Sulawesi

Kokoro Sulawesi is the exhibition of Sulawesi Art, now conducted at Graha Budaya Indonesia (GBI), Takada-no-Baba, Shinkuku-ku, Tokyo untuil December 17, 2005. Ms. Yusrianti reports in the Jakarta Post, an english-written daily newspaper of Indonesia, on it as below.


Sulawesi Expo makes RI arts known in Tokyo

Features - October 17, 2005

Yusrianti Y. Pontodjaf, Contributor, Tokyo, Japan

The Indonesian Cultural House (GBI), an independent institution in Tokyo, has often hosted exhibitions featuring paintings and cultural items from various regions in Indonesia. GBI is an independent institute set up by Japanese journalist Seiichi Okawa in 1998.

This time, the exhibition held at GBI Tokyo from Sept. 17 to Dec. 17, 2005 has the theme of Kokoro Sulawesi, the heart of Sulawesi, kokoro being a Japanese word meaning the heart.

This art exhibition, which features 22 works of artists from Sulawesi, one of Indonesia's major islands, is expected to express the feelings and emotions of the Sulawesi people.

Symbolically, the "k" in "kokoro" represents the k-shaped Sulawesi island.

"Oh, this is what Sulawesi dress looks like, then?" said a visitor, Hiroe Onda, referring to a painting depicting an old man wearing traditional dress with a Toraja house in the background.

Although in general Onda found the exhibition interesting, he was surprised that dark colors dominated in the paintings exhibited.

Browns, grays and blacks, he said, symbolize sorrow. Meanwhile, he added, Japanese prefer bright colors like red, golden yellow or purple.

This Sulawesi expo, which Seichii Okawa said was the first ever held in Japan, features 22 paintings, 21 of which were made by artists from South Sulawesi. The other painting was made by an artist from Palu in central Sulawesi.

As Onda had said, the uniquely Sulawesi paintings, among others, those depicting the Sandek boat (the boat of the Mandar ethnic group) and an old man donning traditional dress with a water buffalo and a Toraja house in the background, were indeed dominated by browns and grays. All these paintings will be sold at prices ranging from Rp 3 million to Rp 7 million.

Okawa said that the atmosphere and the site of the exhibition were adapted to the Sulawesi theme of the exhibition. The items and paintings placed in the room are neatly arranged to represent a unique picture of Sulawesi.

"This is my way of bringing news about Indonesia to Japan," said Okawa, who is also a Japan-based correspondent of an Indonesian television stations.

A documentary is screened in the main hall, where there is also a collection of compact discs of songs from Makassar, Bugis, Mandar, Toraja and Manado.

Free Toraja coffee is also served there. From mid-October up to the end of the month, there will be cultural lectures and courses on Makassar cooking. These courses will be held to ensure that the exhibition will be as successful as the Aceh tsunami exhibition held here in January and April 2005.

In this regard, Okawa is assisted by Kazuhisa Matsui of the Institute of Developing Economy (IDE-JETRO), a Japanese independent institution that has undertaken many activities in Indonesia, as well as by a number of students from Makassar now studying in Tokyo.

"We have contacted Makassar people now staying in Japan. Even a Japanese who once stayed in Makassar has expressed his intention of taking part in this event because of his longing for Makassar," Okawa said.

Regardless of whether or not the exhibitions on Indonesian culture that he has organized since 1998 have drawn a lot of visitors, Okawa deserves great appreciation for his indefatigable efforts in introducing Indonesia to the Japanese, especially when one takes into account that he has started all these activities as just a hobby.

Why has Okawa been so tenacious in his efforts to introduce Indonesian culture to his country?
The answer is simple: he admires and loves Indonesia.

Man behind the exhibit

It was back in 1980s, when Okawa was still a correspondent for a leading news weekly in Indonesia, that an idea struck him to hold an Indonesian expo in Japan.

In May 15, 1998, using his own money, he set up an institution called Graha Budaya Indonesia (Indonesian Cultural House). The office was located next to Tokyo Fuji University, not far from Tokyo's Takadanobaba railway station.

"Indonesia is the Paris of Asia. As a Japanese I can see this comparison. But why does the Indonesian government and our fellow journalists rarely expose this?" he inquired.

"I have brought news from Japan and other countries to Indonesia. How about the news about Indonesia published in Japan by the Japanese media? Most seem to be unfavorable," he said.

As a Japan-based correspondent of Indonesia's leading news weekly, Okawa wrote a lot for the Jakarta media publication he worked for.

As a journalist, he often visited various places in Indonesia. In his trips across the country, he saw another aspect of Indonesia. He fell in love with Indonesia and as a journalist he wanted to bring to his country news about Indonesia in art forms.

He established GBI because of his love and admiration for the works of Indonesian artists. He wanted to introduce to his fellow Japanese what he had seen in Papua, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Aceh.

He regretted that his people, like the people in many other countries, knew only Java and Bali when they talked about Indonesia.

At present, GBI has two Indonesian employees.

This institution not only organizes exhibitions featuring Indonesia's handicraft and art works, but also gives courses on Indonesian language and culture, organizes writing contests, and holds film shows and lectures on Indonesia. So far it has held 34 photo, handicraft and film exhibitions and organized 54 courses and lectures on Indonesia.

Not long after the tsunami struck Aceh, GBI held an exhibition on this theme and raised funds to be donated to disaster victims in Aceh.

Okawa hoped that Aceh would be remembered not only because it had been devastated by a massive earthquake and the deadly tsunami, but also for its beautiful dances, unique language and culture.

Likewise, unfavorable news about the sectarian and communal conflicts in Papua, Sulawesi and other regions in Indonesia can be counterbalanced by reports conveyed in the language of art and culture.

"I have said many times that Indonesian artists are found not only in Java and Bali. There are many other artists in other regions and they are highly gifted. It is regrettable, however, that the government is yet to give them much opportunity," he stressed.

It is only natural that Okawa was rather irritated with the Indonesian government. In his efforts to introduce Indonesian culture to Japan, he has several times invited regency and provincial administrations to promote and support artists from their regions.

Unfortunately, however, the response he gets is usually either "Your idea is interesting" or "OK, we'll think about it."

The ongoing exhibition on Sulawesi is a case in point. It is Okawa and the artists whose paintings are included in this exhibition who have paid for the expenses to transport these paintings to Japan.

Earlier, Okawa asked the South Sulawesi governor and the province's tourism service to help print a catalog of the paintings and provide him with a welcoming speech to be read during the opening ceremony. Until now, when the exhibition is already under way, the catalog and the welcoming speech from the South Sulawesi provincial administration has not arrived.

Okawa has approached regional administrations and the central government in Indonesia several times in his efforts get more attention paid to Indonesian culture as a means of strengthening bilateral relations.

As a Japanese person who loves Indonesian art, Okawa hopes that Indonesia appreciates its arts and culture more than he does.

"Japan has become an advanced country," he said, "Because Japan appreciates and promotes Japanese arts."