Pondy’s Jyoti Naoki Eri talks about his cultural initiative One Asia Project and collaborations with local artisans
Jyoti Naoki Eri has a way with the arts, with both his grandfather Sohei Eri and father Kokei Eri known for their sculptures in Japan. He has explored mediums like painting, photography, calligraphy and ceramics. Back in 2010, inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s teaching that encouraged Asia’s oneness, he started the non-profit organisation One Asia Project in Auroville.
It invites musicians, dancers, painters and craftsmen from India and other Asian countries like Japan and Korea for performances, exhibitions, workshops and lectures, in Auroville and in other places like New Delhi and Pune. “I realised art and culture always transcended boundaries,” he says. Eri feels that a way to achieve “oneness” would be to know and understand each other’s culture. Besides organising the chakai (informal tea ceremony) and the more formal version for those interested, which Eri explains “is a Japanese culture and must be enjoyed in a relaxed mood’’, the 49-year old Japanese artist has also learnt ajrakh (a Rajasthani block print) in Udaipur and fabric dyeing from artisans in Bhuj, besides pottery in Auroville. He has posted pictures of block-printed shirts on his website (oneasiaproject.org). Among his friends who appreciate these fabrics is the Taiwanese fashion designer Sophie Hong. Up next is a photo exhibition by the Japanese photographer Kazuyoshi Miyoshi, organised by Eri’s One Asia Project, with The Japan Foundation at Varanasi. Incidentally, if you’re headed to Pondicherry, you could get in touch with him in advance, and he’ll organise a Japanese tea ceremony for you.
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— Ranjitha G