Estonian Education and Research Minister and her delegation visited Tokyo Geidai


On September 29, 2017, a delegation from the Republic of Estonia visited Tokyo Geidai to help Estonian arts universities promote exchange and collaboration with our university. Among the guests were Minister Mailis Reps, and Secretary General Tea Varrak, as well as Adviser Anneli Roose, from the Ministry of Education and Research, and Vice Rectors Anne Pikkov and Henry-David Varema from the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Estonian Academy of Music, respectively, accompanied by Counselor Argo Kangro of the Estonian Embassy in Japan. They were welcomed at the Ueno campus by Professor Mitsuko Okamoto, Vice President for international affairs and campus diversity, along with Professor Katsuhiko Hibino, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, and Project Associate Professor Yoko Yokota of the Global Support Center.

Following her welcome remarks, Professor Okamoto introduced Tokyo Geidai as an institution comprised of two faculties and four graduate schools with seventy international partner institutions. She also mentioned that the university, which is one of the designated universities for The Top Global University Project by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), has been working hard to provide a superior educational environment through various global initiatives such as collaborative curriculum with top arts universities across the world and special programs offered by world-renowned guest artists.

(From left) International Affairs Manager Shoji, Project Associate Professor Yokota, Professor Okamoto and Professor Hibino

Minister Reps provided the context of the visit that, amidst growing competition among European universities, the representatives of the two Estonian Academies would like to promote international exchange with institutions in Asia, especially Japan, since their academies had not developed extensive partnership in the region.

Education and Research Minister Reps

Following the opening comments by Minister Reps, Professor Pikkov stated that the Estonian Academy of Arts wished to establish a global network centering on Asian universities and promote exchange especially in the fields of design and animation. Professor Hibino explained that among a variety of programs offered at Tokyo Geidai’s Faculty of Fine Arts, the department of crafts represents a unique feature of the university’s education and research. The Japanese have traditionally believed that the beauty could be found in day-to-day life and Japanese artisans have been considered as artists and highly respected in the society, Professor Hibino added.

Touching on the co-work animation project between Japan, China, and South Korea, Professor Okamoto said that she would encourage more international student exchange programs.

Professor Pikkov of the Estonian Academy of Arts

Professor Varema explained that one fourth of the students at the Estonian Academy of Music were international students and many classes were taught in English. He continued that Japan was known for its high level of music education, and his academy therefore wished to seek collaboration with Tokyo Geidai in exchange of students and researchers. Associate Professor Yokota replied that Tokyo Geidai’s Facuty of Music had been actively involved in international exchange activities by inviting guest professors from abroad and holding a couple of joint concerts with its international partners every year. She also referred to the history and tradition of music in Estonia and showed expectations for the development of collaborative relationship, saying that many music students at Tokyo Geidai would be interested in working with Estonian students.

Professor Varema of the Estonian Academy of Music

After the meeting, the group moved to the University Museum, where Professor Masaaki Miyasako of the Public Collaboration Center welcomed the Estonian guests and gave a tour of The Grand Exhibition on the Silk Road, SOSin – DENSin Clone Cultural Property: Revitalization of Lost Time. Minister Reps and the delegation members were attentively listening to the explanation by Professor Miyasako that the techniques used to “clone” a cultural property not only aimed to represent the same materials and textures of the original but also reproduce the DNA of the work of art that is techniques, cultural backgrounds and spirituality carried by the cultural property.

Minister Reps looking up at the “cloned” Mogao Cave 57 in Dunhuang, China

Later the guests visited Sogakudo, the university’s main concert hall, where music education takes place. Performance Researcher Kenji Naoi as well as Mr. Eiichi Suzuki, Head of the Performance Planning and Management Section, explained to the guests the unique features of the concert hall. Professor Varema was carefully listening to the explanation that the hall is equipped with an adjustable ceiling which can change the size of the hall space for controlling reverberant sound in the hall.

Guests at Sogakudo with Performance Researcher Naoi (left) and Chief Suzuki (center left)

The guests left the campus after confirming that both the Estonian guests and the Tokyo Geidai members reached the common understanding that they would start with small collaborative undertakings, which could develop into larger projects in the future.

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