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‘A Triumph of Traditional Chinese Culture’: Shen Yun Enchants Audiences in Japan

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: February 5, 2024
The closing of a 2024 Shen Yun performance in Japan. (Image: Li Yiming/Vision Times)

NAGOYA/TOKYO, Japan — Shen Yun’s World Tour, which kicked off its Asia leg on Dec. 22, has been met with resounding acclaim across Japan. By the end of January, the performances in Tokyo were fully sold out.

Starting at 1 p.m. in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Civic Hall, which can accommodate up to 1,800 people, audience members could be seen pouring in with bated breath, awaiting to experience Shen Yun. By the time of the performance, the theater was almost at full capacity.

Founded in 2006 and based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. The company aims to revive 5,000 years of traditional culture and values through immersive performances — all while showcasing what China was like prior to the ravages of communism through dazzling displays of art, song, and music.

Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music performance, bringing to life 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and heritage to audiences across the globe in a brand new production each year. (Image: Shen Yun Performing Arts)

Once the performance concluded and all the performers came back onstage to wave goodbye to the audience, the entire venue erupted in thunderous applause. Many audience members were seen continuously waving back with palpable excitement.

Made up of a large ensemble of elite artists comprising more than 500 dancers, musicians, and vocalists, Shen Yun currently has eight equally-sized companies that tour and perform across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania simultaneously. The company puts on a brand new production each year.

‘Great harmony’

“All the programs had complete storylines, which deeply attracted me. Every aspect of Shen Yun’s performance was perfect,” said Mr. Yoshihiro Yukimura. “The dancers coordinated very well with each other, showing great harmony on stage, which is remarkable.”

He also mentioned, “Some programs depicted the life experiences of historical figures, which are educational and very rare. The show is truly a triumph of traditional Chinese culture.”

Yukimura, who works as the president of the “Association for Creating Happiness for People and Pets,” is dedicated to improving the mental health of Japanese people through pet companionship.

Mr. Yoshihiro Yukimura works as the president of the “Association for Creating Happiness for People and Pets.” He attended Shen Yun’s performance in Tokyo on Jan. 31, 2024. (Image: Li Yiming/Vision Times)

Another audience member, Elena from Ukraine, praised the artistic design of Shen Yun’s performances and its perfect integration of the digital backdrop with the performers onstage.

“Shen Yun not only showcases dance and various cultural contents in art design in a very high standard, but it also introduces some historical stories to the audience, which are very captivating,” said Elena, who works for an art design company in Tokyo’s Hyogo Prefecture.

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However, Elena also expressed regret at the current situation and persecution that Falun Gong practitioners face in China. “I also understand a bit about the current situation in China. I have a Chinese friend from my student days, who now lives in China, but we can hardly contact each other. In China, she cannot use any social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, Line, etc.”

Shen Yun’s performances aim not only to entertain, they also educate audiences on important social and political issues taking place in China today — providing a unique perspective on the human spirit and the importance of not taking certain freedoms for granted. 

The performances, which are also complemented by a high-tech digital backdrop as well as a live orchestra that combine classical Chinese and Western instruments, serve to take audiences on a spellbinding journey through time and space.

Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music performance, bringing to life 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and heritage to audiences across the globe. (Image: Shen Yun Performing Arts)

When talking about the issue of human rights persecution against Falun Gong practitioners in China, Elena said, “I did not know about these persecutions before. It shocked me to learn that such persecution is still ongoing in China, as shown on stage.”

‘A way to purify one’s soul’

Ms. Reiko Kawagishi from Saitama Prefecture told reporters that she thought the Shen Yun performance was really great, but when she saw the content about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, she couldn’t help but worry about the safety of Falun Gong practitioners inside China — hoping that they can one day live in peace and harmony.

“I can only hope that one day [Falun Gong adherents] won’t be persecuted for their faith, and everyone in China can be safe and live in peace,” she said.

RELATED: 2023 Report on the Ongoing Persecution of Falun Gong Unmasks Grim Reality

Three other audience members who traveled all the way from Chile, Peru, and Mexico to attend the performance, told reporters that after watching Shen Yun, they “understood the importance of being a good person in the future.”

“The performance was life-changing and we think it teaches people how to purify their souls,” the trio said.

Shen Yun’s Japan tour began in the central city of Nagoya, where they started their performances on Dec. 22 last year.

Nikki Osaki, an English teacher at Nagoya City’s University originally from England, shared how she became greatly interested in Shen Yun after seeing it on Instagram a few weeks prior to the show.

Ms. Nikki Osaki from London, England, attended Shen Yun’s performance at the Nagoya Congress Center with her daughter on Dec. 22, 2023. (Image: Li Yiming/Vision Times)

“The performance was so captivating and the performers were so beautiful and talented; I’m glad I got to experience this incredible show in person,” said Osaki, who attended the performance with her daughter.

‘Shen Yun is so amazing’

Francesca Sainvilus, who hails from Florida, is the wife of a U.S. Navy officer stationed in Japan. After attending Shen Yun in Nagoya, she told reporters that she had seen advertisements for Shen Yun in the U.S. through various channels years ago but never had the opportunity to attend.

This year, after seeing advertisements for Shen Yun’s performances in Japan, she eagerly booked tickets and traveled from Kyushu to Nagoya with her husband and two children.

Francesca Sainvilus from Florida is currently living in Japan through her husband’s job as a U.S. Navy officer stationed in the country. She attended Shen Yun’s performance in Nagoya along with her husband and their two children on Jan. 30, 2024. (Image: Li Yiming/Vision Times)

“Shen Yun is so amazing that even my six-year-old son kept saying how awesome it was,” said Sainvilus, adding, “Although Shen Yun presents traditional Chinese culture, I think everyone can understand it — regardless of the language they speak.”

Sainvilus also shared that though she hadn’t heard about Falun Gong prior to the performance, she was aware that China is a communist country and how it stifles its citizens’ freedom of speech and belief.

“It’s such a shame that an art form as beautiful as Shen Yun can be performed in other countries around the world but not in China,” she said, adding, “I know that the Chinese Communist Party persecutes all Chinese people, which is terrible. But it’s a good thing that these persecutions are shown in Shen Yun’s programs so we can learn about them.”

With reporting by Li Yiming, Vision Times correspondent in Japan.