Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project

The Restaurant of Many Orders

Thursday May 19 8:00pm
Friday May 20 9:30pm
Duration: 75 minutes

Cowell Theater
Tickets: General Admission
$20 in advance, $25 at door


Funded in part by a TourWest grant from the Western Arts Federation supported by the National Endowment for the Arts

Hiroshi Koike
Ayako Araki, Tetsuro Koyana,
Akira Otsuka
Lighting Designer:
Takayuki Tomiyama

Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project

Based on Kenji Miyazawa’s famous story for children, Restaurant is an accessible yet profound dance theater. The three performers execute unique and superb movements rooted in traditional and contemporary Japanese and other Asian physical expressions with dexterity. Often comedic, sometimes serious, they eloquently represent the elements of and relationship between humans, animals and nature.

Restaurant premiered in 2012 and since then this accessible yet profound piece has been presented in 17 venues in Japan and toured to Jakarta, Kuala Lumper, Penang, Manila, Deli and Thrissur (India). The performances at SFIAF will be the U.S. premiere of the piece and Koike’s first visit to the country since dissolving his former company named Pappa Tarahumara in 2012, which toured around the globe to 35 countries over the course of 30 years.

Closing Pappa Tarahumara was Koike’s response to the Great Eastern Japan Earth Quake and Tsunami (a.k.a. “3.11”) that devastated Tohoku (the North Eastern part of Japan’s main island) in March 2011. The disaster coincided with Koike’s frustration in regards to the growing stagnation of the societal system in which he was making art.

Dissolving the established scheme and starting again was Koike’s way of shock-treating himself into addressing the new landscape. With renewed commitment to raise individual awareness of the physical body as well as one’s environment, he founded “Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project” with a mission to rebuild connections between body and mind, among different people, different cultures and times, and the relationship between human and nature.

Not by coincidence, the inspiration for the source material of Restaurant, Kenji Miyazawa was born in 1886 in Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku, the year in which two earlier major earthquakes hit the region. The Tohoku region is rich in traditional folk tales and performing arts and is surrounded by beautiful nature with high mountains and an awe-inspiring, if at times tumultuous, ocean.

In the post 3.11 context, Koike’s Restaurant addresses the necessity to re-think the relationship between the enormous power of nature and the technological achievements of humankind including nuclear power plants, which enable the efficiency and convenience of contemporary life.

Koike stated: “There is no real way of stopping natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami. But what about the disaster caused by the nuclear power plants? Wasn’t that caused by the human arrogance?”

The performers eloquently represent the elements and relationship with virtuosity of cross cultural expressions ranging from Balinese dance movements to Japanese traditional folk and contemporary comedy techniques. The performers also alternate between the three “Japanese gentlemen” and the forest animals utilizing masterfully crafted Balinese masks.

Kenji was also a dedicated Buddhist and a vegetarian, and thus, the paradigm shift of the food chain (eating meat) resonates strongly in the piece with the men/animal quick changes.

With much philosophy and contemplation, Koike’s 75 minute nonverbal theatrical journey is simultaneously a delightful dance theater piece that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

In addition to the three veteran performers (Tetsuro Koyano, Akira Otsuka, Ayako Araki) on stage, recording of the original voice and instrumental music involves great talents of Japan including Yumi Kimura, the lead voice performer featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, as well as soothing piano tunes by Toshio Nakagawa and the haunting sound of Shakuhachi (Japanese vertical flute) by Akikazu Nakamura.

Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project


Hiroshi Koike, Director

Hiroshi KOIKE: Born and raised in Japan. After graduating from University, through the TV director, he started a performing arts company, “Pappa TARAHUMARA”, in 1982. He has directed 55pieces, toured 35 countries and worked with many artists in many countries and established high reputation throughout the world. He held a lot of important posts in various committees such as Artistic Director of Tsukuba Cultural Foundation (1997~2005), member of the Culture Promotion Committee of Aomori (1999), Chair of the Asian Performing Artists’ Forum in Okinawa, Specified Donation appointed member of Japan Foundation (2004~2011). His recently work is Asian tour of “Mahabharata Chapter 2.5”.

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