Please refer to the following page for speaker profiles:
Innovative City Forum 2019 The Japan Foundation Asia Center Session
Asia Center Session – Greetings / TSUKA Hiroko (Executive Vice President, the Japan Foundation)
The theme set for the Asia Center Session is "Reverse IDEA – Searching for New Coordinate Axes from Asian Dynamism." We believe that the diversity of Asia is filled with ideas that have the potential to reverse or overturn conventions, stereotypical views or even prejudices that we may have, and that these ideas may help us discover clues about how we may enrich our lives.
For this session, we suggest that you reset the coordinate axes in your mind, sharpen your senses, and enjoy the presentations by all the speakers who take the stage.
Keynote "The Evolution of Islamic Fashion in Current Affairs" / Alia Khan
Ms. Alia Khan is the representative of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC). We invited her to speak about the global network driven by Islamic fashion, which is still relatively unknown in Japan. Ms. Khan explained "Modest Fashion," which is based on Islamic teachings. The intriguing session provided us insights into how not only the attire of Muslims but also the values that it is based on have similarities to Japan.
Alia Khan: Al-salām 'alaykum (Peace be upon you!). I'd like to speak to you about "The Evolution of Islamic Fashion in Current Affairs" and the new industry called "Modest Fashion" that is growing around the world. The industry is in demand primarily by the global population of Muslim women, and it has started a type of revolution which has been coined a "Modest Revolution". The modest fashion and lifestyle based on the Islamic faith has opened the gates to this revolution as we worked on various ideas and projects, and now it effortlessly exhibits itself globally. This has also led to the "rebranding" of how Muslims are perceived.
The modest clothing of Muslim women who practice the Islamic faith conceals the shape of a woman's body and limits the exposure of skin. But the women who wear such clothing are not oppressed. Rather, they dress this way on their own initiative. Modest Fashion is based on Islamic teachings, which are written out in the Quran. For example, the hijab is a veil or scarf on a woman's head. However, the true meaning of the idea behind hijab encompasses various facets such as "hijab of the eyes," "hijab of the ears," "hijab of the tongue" and "hijab of the mind" in addition to the physical hijab that guards our modesty. At the basis of hijab is the idea of distancing oneself from things that lead to moral degeneration. For instance," hijab of the eyes" means we do not look at violent or morally desensitizing material, and "hijab of the tongue" means stopping ourselves from backbiting or using harsh words. The act of "covering" is a form of preservation of dignity and safeguarding.
Muslims now number over 1.8 billion people worldwide, and we estimate that their annual consumption of fashion amounts to approximately 300 billion dollars (33 trillion yen). The influence of Muslim consumers is growing on a global scale, not only on commerce and industry but also on politics and economics, and the Muslim consumer's values has created what is now being called a "Third Space."
Free from secular values, the conservative yet elegant fashion and products and the modest lifestyle provides us with an opportunity to reevaluate how we should live as Muslims, and more people are now setting a priority on moral excellence.
Modesty is an Islamic concept and an important philosophy that forms the foundation of our existence. Through the activities of IFDC, we will continue to move forward, combat Islamophobia, and communicate the Modest culture, values and beliefs. Thank you for your attention.
Proposal from Art Talk Session: "From Discarding to Recycling" – Celebrating the Death and Rebirth of Technology – / WADA Ei
In the Art Talk Session, Mr. Wada talked about his activities in the world of art and music and the ideas they were born from. He talked about how the "repair shops" he sees on the streets around Asia look like "music instrument stores" to him and showed us the live performances he produced around the world. The presentation fascinated the audience and the room was filled with laughter as Mr. Wada talked excitedly about a world surrounded by electronics.
WADA Ei: I have lived in Japan surrounded by technology. One time, the static noise or "snow screen" on a CRT TV sparked a fantasy, and I started imagining that the bird god called "Garuda" that I saw in Indonesia when I was a young child was living inside the TV. The idea that an otherworldly place existed inside the TV developed into a fascination with “electronics, electromagnetics and electric waves" when I was a university student, and I started thinking that retired home appliances were still alive and could be used. In recent years, I have been working on a musical performance project called “ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS!" in which we take discarded home appliances and revive them as electronic instruments. As the era of mass consumption comes to an end, I have also launched a project to organize “bizarre festivals." In the future, I am thinking about creating an “electromagnetic orchestra without borders." It is an electromagnetic orchestra that doesn't have fixed members, doesn't use existing instruments, and starts by making instruments using old home appliances as materials. We are now based in Japan, but I am hoping to expand this to other regions in Asia to explore new possibilities in the world of music.
Suggestions from Medical Talk Session 1 "Asian Philosophy" – Reconsidering the mind and body from an Oriental holistic viewpoint / INABA Toshiro
In Medical Talk Session 1, Mr. Inaba gave a talk about the human body from an Asian and Eastern point of view. Mr. Inaba started from the idea that "the parts exist in the whole and the whole resides in the parts" and went on to speak about the difference between the East and West with regard to consciousness. Mr. Inaba is a medical professional who is exploring new forms of "care," and he presents grand visions that are not limited to the field of medicine.
INABA Toshiro: About 200 million years ago, there was the Pangaea continent, which broke apart and gave birth to countries and borders. The Japanese Archipelago was created in this process. Similarly, the human body was born when a single fertilized egg split into 60 trillion cells. If each cell in the human body was a person, it would be like being born with 7,000 times the population of Earth in our bodies. The Eastern concept of "shinjin-ichinyo" means "body-mind unity." The body and mind are inextricably linked, and the internal nature and the external nature of the body and mind respond to one another to create life as a whole. "Fushikaden" is a Noh treatise by Zeami, the playwright and theorist of the Japanese Noh theatre. It was handed down by word of mouth and published for the first time in the Meiji Period. When I read this text, I thought, "This is exactly the same as medicine." This is because wisdom about body and mind was applied to art instead of medicine and sublimated into "the way" that was linked to all things, and I realized that this was the essence of all art. In Mahayana Buddhism, there is a concept called "Indra Net." Countless jewels are tied to the knots of the net, and the entire net is reflected on each of the jewels. I think this image is similar to how we view the human body. We feel that the history and wisdom of nature is embodied in each of our cells. In that sense, I think the essence of art and medicine are the same. It is a process for restoring the wholeness of the body. I believe the ideas I talked about today are ideas that have been inherited naturally as Asian wisdom and views about the human body.
Suggestions from Medical Talk Session 2 "JAMU – Releasing the power of natural medicine" / Mangestuti Agil
In Medical Talk Session 2, we learned about the traditional Indonesian health drink called "jamu" and the ancient wisdom for pre-symptomatic disease measures which have attracted new attention in recent years. The presentation gave us insights into Indonesian ideas about perennial youth and long life, which people around the world have sought after since ancient times.
Mangestuti Agil: I teach pharmaceutical botany, pharmacognosy, and traditional medicine at a university in Indonesia. Today, I would like to share about the traditional of Indonesian health drink called "jamu" and talk about the Indonesian and Asian concepts and philosophies behind this tradition and the connection between mind and body. In Indonesia, there are approximately 400 ethnic groups scattered all around the country, and each group has its own recipes for jamu drinks. Some jamu recipes were originally invented by healers from famous kingdoms in Central Java. They worked very hard, conducted fasting and meditation, and devoted themselves to the search for the best remedies to assure the health of the members of the royal families. According to the healers, combining formulas and remedies with a healthy lifestyle was important for health and longevity. It happened that the common people also wanted to know the royal family's secrets to a healthy life, and jamu become popular among the general public. As I studied jamu, I realized that in order to benefit from jamu, it is important to live a life balanced with one's surroundings in order to live in harmony, peacefully, and healthily. What are now called "pre-symptomatic disease measures" have existed in Java since ancient times. Jamu has been reexamined in recent years as an important asset for our health. Today, Indonesian university students and the young generation are studying jamu to give a scientific basic to its application for health. They study basic concepts and philosophy, pharmacological actions, application and doses, and side effects of jamu. This is definitely an application of Asian medicine, a reexamination of "what is good for the body, mind, and spirit as a whole," and an innovation that will be passed down to the next generation. Lastly, I would like to say that the philosophy of jamu is the "balance of life," and this is the key to the Asian way of maintaining a healthy body and mind. Thank you for your kind attention.
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- [Wrap-up Session] "Reverse IDEAs"