Play’s the Thing in Japan


Institute Director Lois Holzman recently returned from an invited speaking tour to Japan organized by colleagues there with whom she has been building relationships since her first visit to Japan organized in 2012 by Professor Yuji Moro of the University of Tsukuba. Moro was joined by Professor Takashi Ito of Hokkaido University and Masayoshi Morioka of Kobe University in creating venues for Japanese scholars, educators and students to meet Holzman and the psychology of becoming that is social therapeutics.  The week-long tour also included visits to alternative communities in Urakawa, Japan, and Seoul, South Korea.

In Kobe, Holzman presented a keynote lecture on The How of Playing: Implications for Educational Psychology at the Conference of the Japanese Association for Educational Psychology. In addition, she led a three-hour workshop for 50 faculty and graduate students on play and performance for learning and development. [READ MORE]

At Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Holzman presented at a Symposium on Reconceptualizing Development, in conversation with two professors who presented on their research using “performance” and “tool-and-result” methodology as a new framework for their work with poor young men in Manila and for empowering the native Ainu people of Japan. The symposium was followed by a workshop on social therapeutics. [READ MORE]


Holzman along with Professor Ito and five university  students visited Bethel House, a unique entrepreneurial therapeutic community run by people who are mentally ill and located in Urakawa, a remote village of Hokkaido. In addition to observing several meetings of members, including their self-directed research, she had conversation with the head of Bethel House and some of the members on their success at playing, performing and socializing their symptoms. Karen Nakamura‘s book, A Disability of the Soul, tells how Bethel has helped confront the intense stigma of mental illness with such highly public events as “The Grand Prix of Hallucinations,” which draws visitors from across Japan annually. [READ MORE]

Professor Moro has been a major catalyst for introducing social therapeutics and Newman/Holzman’s Vygotsky across Japan. Says Holzman:


Yuji is known, loved and respected for his scholarship, teaching and intellectual leadership. He’s a dynamic community organizer, who successfully links students and professors with poor communities. There are 100s of young Japanese teachers, psycholo-gists, researchers and students who are now students of social therapeutics and grappling with how to make use of it in their context. 

Dr. Moro recently completed the Japanese translation of Holzman’s Vygotsky at Work and Play (Shin-yo-sha Publishers) and copies of the newly-minted edition were on display throughout the tour.

About Janet Wootten

Janet Wootten is a media and public relations professional, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors and a leader of its annual community fundraising campaign.
This entry was posted in creativity and play, Lois Holzman, performance, Psychology, Uncategorized, Vygotsky and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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