Japan Society’s “Stories from the War” Begins with the Search for Tokyo Rose

January 29, 2015 7:30 pmtoJanuary 31, 2015 9:30 pm


Miwa Yanagi, Tokyo Rose, The Zero Hour, WWII, World War II, Japan Society, NYC, Stories from the War, theater


Miwa Yanagi’s Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape 

Thursday, January 29 at 7:30 p.m. (followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
Friday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Japan Society – 333 E. 47th Street (between First and Second Avenues)

Tickets: $35/$28 Japan Society members

As part of its 2014-2015 Performing Arts Season, Japan Society presents Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape, the first theater production within the Society-wide series Stories from the War, marking the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII. This multimedia work conceived, written and directed by internationally renowned visual artist Miwa Yanagi marks a North American premiere, playing three performances.

In the midst of WWII, the voice of a female announcer on ‘Radio Tokyo,’ Japan’s state-run international radio service, reached the ears of US troops stationed in the South Pacific. The broadcast announcements were made by not one but several Japanese American women, ordered to work on air by the Japanese Imperial Army. Their voices, aired during an entertainment program The Zero Hour, were immediately and wildly popular with the US troops, who soon began referring to the announcers – collectively – as ‘Tokyo Rose.’

Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape, inspired by actual events, traces the story of – and the search for – the true ‘Tokyo Rose’ and examines the case of a young Japanese American woman who was stranded in Japan during WWII, forced to serve as a broadcaster for The Zero Hour, and subsequently tried for treason by the United States. This historic incident is reimagined in this original theatrical whodunit, brimming with dynamic projections as well as iconic imagery from the rich body of photographic work by Yanagi, one of the featured artists in Japan Society’s 2011 gallery exhibition Bye Bye Kitty!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art. This visually rich work, Yanagi’s North American debut as a theater artist, takes audiences inside the multifaceted story of a woman caught between two nations during and in the wake of WWII.

Known primarily as a contemporary photographer and video artist, Yanagi in recent years has expanded her work into performance art and theater. She employs computer graphics and special effects in her intricate visual pieces, and her theatrical works incorporates images from her visual artwork. Yanagi’s elaborate creations using female models communicate themes of femininity/gender, aging, employment and body image. The most recognized of Yanagi’s photography series include “Elevator Girls,” which features groups of uniformed department store elevator attendants in a variety of urban spaces throughout Japan; “My Grandmothers,” which features women disguised as they might look 50 years from now; and “Fairy Tales,” a series in which young women take on the roles of girls and old haggard women from various famous fairy tales.

Japan Society launches Stories from the War with this production, and the series runs through August, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII with programs including a theater series, film series, lectures and education programs, encouraging reflection on the events, figures and issues surrounding the war and its impact on the people of the United States and Japan from today’s vantage point. As part of Stories from the War, the three-part series Stories from the War: Reflecting on WWII through Theater delivers three theatrical offerings beginning with  Miwa Yanagi’s Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape.  This production will be followed in the theater series by Michiko Godai’s Yokohama Rosa (April 25-26) and New and Traditional Noh: Holy Mother in Nagasaki and Kiyotsune (May 14-16). About the theater programs, Japan Society’s Artistic Director Yoko Shioya remarks, “Theater is one of the most powerful and immediate mediums to unpack and address complicated and challenging topics.  At a time critical to Japanese politics and the U.S.-Japan relationship, these productions bring to life vivid and timeless personal stories, and offer a platform for discussion through a contemporary lens.”

Miwa Yanagi’s Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape is performed in English and Japanese with English subtitles.To purchase tickets, please visit Japan Society’s website.