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Women Taiko Drummers at the Akino Fuku Ceremonial Opening
Women Taiko drummers at the Akino Fuku ceremonial opening


Akino Fuku Museum

Tenyru, Japan
April 17 – May 30, 1999

Tamotsu Asano, Director of the Akino Fuku Museum
Yoshihiro Ikka, Curator of the Akino Fuku Museum
Shoko Toma, Independant Curator, Coordinator
Lesley Tannahill and Toshiyasu Ohi, Contacts


Gallery One, Park Tower

Tokyo, Japan
June 4 – 27, 1999

Nobuhiro Sato, Artistic Director
Shoko Toma, Independent Curator and Coordinator






The Women Beyond Borders exhibition at the Akino Fuku Museum opened in Tenryu on April 16th with a fanfare of women Taiko drummers resounding an ancient and powerful cadence amidst cedar forests and blue skies above the Tenryu river. The fortress-like museum offered a powerful backdrop for the boxes from around the world. In addition to the permanent exhibition of works by the master artist Akino Fuku, several special and planned exhibitions are held at the museum throughout the year. For more information about the Akino Fuku Museum, click here.


Shoko Toma, Lorraine Serena, and Yoshihiro Ikka


At the opening, we met Japanese participants and Yony Waite, WBB artist, and curator from Kenya. The Mayor of Tenryu, the Director of Education, Director of the Akino Fuku Museum, and many other dignitaries gave formal speeches, which embraced a depth of understanding and appreciation of WBB and beyond to the power of the mythical significance of the box in a land which comprehends and reveres such things in daily life.



Artists, officials, men and women from the nearby towns gathered after the opening at a lakeside Ryokan for a traditional banquet of delicacies, joyful conversation, more speeches, rituals and singing into the night led by Yoni Waite. Yoni surprisingly spent many years in Japan and spoke the language fluently!



Women Beyond Borders Japan Catalog

Yoshihiro Ikka, Curator of the Akino Fuku Museum – JAPAN


On this occasion of the opening of the Women Beyond Borders Exhibition, I would like to share some of my thoughts with you. First, I heard that the women of the world had joined hands and created artistic works using small wooden boxes and that an exhibition of these works was on tour throughout the world. Tenryu is a sylvan city and has declared itself a city of trees. This city has a museum of the arts which has a permanent exhibition of the works of a famous Japanese woman artist, Akino Fuku. Thus, the city was ideally suited to hold such an exhibition. The museum has become known to a certain degree as a museum specializing in Japanese style art. However, I feel it is the work of the museum to help develop an appreciation of all kinds of art, widely defined. Therefore, I would like to see the museum hold exhibitions of Japanese art, oil paintings, contemporary art and other styles of art as well. However, I wondered whether a small art museum in a regional area could successfully generate a wide acceptance and understanding of contemporary art such as the WBB exhibition.


The opening ceremony of the Akino Fuku WBB Exhibition


As the opening of the exhibit approached, my worries on this point grew. I wondered why it had to be an exhibition involving only the works of women artists. Why couldn’t it be an exhibition of the works of both male and female artists, I wondered. At that point, I decided that it was time to study the situation more closely. Thus, early this year, I went to the United States with Ms. Shoko Toma (the Japanese Representative for the Women Beyond Borders Exhibition) to visit Lorraine Serena in Santa Barbara, California.


During our visit, her atelier was filled with women who supported WBB. It was as if a great female power was focused on that peaceful town and I was stunned by the way they collaborated to support the project and make it a success. Behind the scenes, their friends and family members were supporting them, in spirit and effort, a scene which moved me.


As the exhibition went around from country to country, there was a very strong response. For example, in countries such as Russia, Kenya, and Mexico, the status of women is still very limited thus, the exhibition provided an opportunity for voices to be raised for increasing the sensitivities of all regarding these problems which, when I hear about them, have a powerful emotional effect.


Supporting such an extensive exhibition of female artists’ creations is a way of expressing hope that we will have a peaceful world in the years to come. These were the thoughts that I brought back with me.






Park Tower, Tokyo


The Women Beyond Borders Exhibition was created by Lorraine Serena, an American artist from California, and her associates. The project has in turn, caused more and more women artists to contribute their work to the exhibition. The exhibition here in Japan consists of 200 of these works. I think you will agree with the others who have seen the exhibition and were thrilled by the wonderful individuality of the various works and their artistic expression. I believe that these unique works will speak to you about the hopes of all, both men and women, the young and old, and all races for not only a 21st century without war, but continued peace in the coming millenniums. I am sure that this is the hope of all women everywhere. Let us also hope that this exhibition will lead to additional opportunities throughout Japan, and all the countries of the world, to communicate and express our humanity.

– Shoko Toma, Independant Curator


Shoko Toma, Independent Curator and Coordinator (second from right), with the Tokyo Urban Gas and Development sponsors of the Park Tower exhibition


Park Tower, Gallery One, Tokyo




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