Session ⁄ Event

01 Yamagata City ⁄ Opening Event

Opening Event Information

Date and
Sunday October 30th, 2022 (14:00~)
Yamagata Prefectural Local Museum "Bunshokan" Assembly Hall (3-4-51 Hatagomachi, Yamagata-city)
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This event has ended.
You can watch an archived video of this event.
Attendance is free
Naoko Inoue
Host Naoko Inoue

Born December 28, 1974, in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, and raised in Kawanishi, Naoko Inoue is currently a proud resident of Nagai City. During her time as a student at Kunori Gakuen Girl's High School in Yonezawa, she transferred to Glendora High School in California, USA in 1991 before going on to study at California's very own Citrus College. In 1998, she returned to Japan after experiencing working at a travel agency in LA and trying her hand at the media talent industry.
Over the years, Inoue has worn many hats. Radio DJ, commercial narrator, lounge DJ, bilingual English and Japanese moderator, a TV reporter for YBC Yamagata Broadcasting, TUY, and SAY Sakurambo TV, a magazine model (Bi Story), an interpreter, and to top it all off, she is currently active as an English teacher at a nursery school as well as performing as one of the Yamagata Maiko. There are very few things that she hasn't done! In addition, she is one of the instructors of the Yamagata Prefectural Board of Education's "Learn from Professionals" program.

Event Report

Reflecting on the values of Yamagata and Japan and then broadcasting it to the world

Panel discussion
view of the event

A panel discussion featuring five remarkable individuals who have been active in Japan and overseas. The theme was "Global, Digital, Art and the 21st Century Society"

The 2022 YAMAGATA Youth Summit was held on Sunday, October 3th, at the Yamagata City Bunshokan and kicked off with an incredible opening event that reflected the tremendous pride that the people here feel for their prefecture. As a rural prefecture nestled in Japan’s northern Tohoku region, Yamagata is not historically well-known for its foreign language capacity however, in order to help promote a more international Yamagata as well as to reach audiences abroad, the opening event was held entirely in English.

Guests at the opening event were greeted by a lively collaborative performance put on by the Autumn String Quartet and Yamagata University Hanagasa Circle “Shimensouta,” who showcased Yamagata’s distinctive traditional folk dance, the Hanagasa. True to the spirit of the event, the Prefectural Governor of Yamagata, Mieko Yoshimura, gave a welcoming address in English, punctuated by the powerful statement, "I want Japanese values to be shared with the world through the Youth Summit here in Yamagata, not in New York or Paris, Tokyo or Osaka, but here in Yamagata."

Following the governor, a second-year student at Kunori Gakuen High School, Ms. Airi Suzuki, and second-year student Ms. Nanako Kasuga from Yamagata University’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences had the honor of giving speeches in English as well. A quote that stood out was, "There are many things that the younger generation can do. Let's be proud of Yamagata and work to improve it here together."

This event brought together five remarkable people, who have been active in Japan and overseas, who took to the stage in the panel discussion to talk about common themes and problems that affect us all and how we can overcome them. Mr. Goya Kobayashi, an external researcher at the Policy Research Institute (Yamagata Prefectural General Affairs Department), served as the facilitator of this event and channeled the discussion on the themes of "Global, Digital, Art, and 21st Century Society."

Some reverberating comments from panelists were, "There is a possibility that foreigners will be the bearers of traditional Japanese culture in the future.” “Digitization will support this movement.” “How about appealing to business people around the world by making use of the connections brought about by Yamagata’s diversity?” Such bold ideas as these flowed freely throughout the event.

Following the panel discussion, there was also a chance for the audience to ask questions to the panelists. A number of thought-provoking questions were brought up by a diverse international audience, demonstrating the high level of interest in the theme.

After the discussion came to a close, attendees of the event exchanged business cards and conversed amongst themselves, reflecting on the topics that were brought up.

To conclude the event, Yamagata Nishi High School's calligraphy club put on a performance that combined traditional Japanese calligraphy as well as some more contemporary dance elements. On the giant banner that they painted in live time, not only did they write a welcoming message to Yamagata, but the lyrics of the traditional Hanagasa Ondo folk song were also written to proudly convey the message that "we want people around the world to know the culture of Yamagata".

Members of the Autumn String Quartet

Members of the "Autumn String Quartet" performing at the welcome attraction. The group performed the 4th movement from the prefectural song "Mogami River" and Dvořák's string quartet No. 12 "America"

Members of Yamagata University Hanagasa Circle Shimensouka

Members of Yamagata University Hanagasa Circle "Shimensouka" performing the traditional Kasamawashi version of the Hanagasa Ondo dance brought joy and excitement to the audience.

Mieko Yoshimura

Mieko Yoshimura, Governor of Yamagata Prefecture, speaking as one of the key organizers of this event "Let's enjoy the Youth Summit to the fullest'' she said with pride.

Airi Suzuki

Airi Suzuki, a second-year student at Kunori Gakuen High School, gave one of the opening speeches.

Nanako Kasuga

Nanako Kasuga, a second-year student at Yamagata University's Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. She emphasized the importance of taking action.

Mr. Goya Kobayashi

Mr. Goya Kobayashi, the general manager of Yamagata Prefecture, served as the facilitator. He is also an external researcher at the Policy Research Institute

Alice French

Based on her experience working at the Yamagata Prefectural Government, panelist Alice French shared her own personal views on the differences between Japan and other countries, and between cities and rural areas.


Panelist KiNG talked about her various activities as an artist as well as the social changes before and after COVID-19 and what role art has to play in contemporary society today.

Yuka Tanimoto

Panelist Yuka Tanimoto made careful observations about the values of Yamagata and discussed about her conversations with decision-makers around the world.

Wesley Keppel-Henry

After living in Tohoku for more than 10 years, panelist Wesley Keppel-Henry talked about the future of the region and how to communicate it to a global audience.

Akemi Tsunakawa

As a leading expert in AI chatbot technology, panelist Akemi Tsunakawa talked about ideas for sending messages using digital technology and what she liked about Yamagata in particular.

calligraphy club of Yamagata Nishi High School

For the final welcoming performance, the calligraphy club of Yamagata Nishi High School put on a calligraphy performance in the garden. Combining dance and calligraphy, they proudly wrote out the lyrics of Hanagasa Ondo.

YouTube Live

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Panel discussion

Theme Global, Digital, Art and 21st Century Society


  • Yuka Tanimoto
    Forbes JAPAN Executive Officer ⁄ Web Editor-in-Chief

    Yuka Tanimoto

    After working as a financial economic anchor at a brokerage firm and Bloomberg TV, Yuka Tanimoto went to the United States to receive her MBA. She then worked as a Nikkei CNBC newscaster and was the company's very first female commentator. To date, she has interviewed over 3,000 VIPs around the world, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and the founder of Starbucks Howard Schultz.

  • Akemi Tsunagawa
    Bespoke Co., Ltd. Representative Director

    Akemi Tsunagawa

    Akemi Tsunagawa graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She went on to establish Bespoke Co., Ltd. in 2015 after working at a foreign investment bank, as a strategy consultant, and as a financial product developer at an asset management company. Bespoke is currently developing an AI chatbot called "Bebot", a real-time communication platform, which is being commercialized with the idea of "I wish there was something like this" for public institutions in Japan and overseas. Tsunagawa has produced many world-first AI projects, such as the world's first "AI x International Airport" and "AI x Train Station". As a leading expert in chatbots, she has spoken at many international conferences in order to share her knowledge with a diverse audience. In Japan, she is also known to be an expert in digital research, a program established by Prime Minister Kishida in 2021, and serves as a member of the Cabinet Office Innovation Ecosystem Expert Committee, which was established in 2022. Her hobby is the board game "Settlers of Catan"

  • KiNG
    Artist ⁄ Designer ⁄ Producer


    With a degree from Tama Art University Graduate School of Fine Arts, KiNG is a creative who majored in sculpture. Since her time at school, she has provided design, art, costumes, etc. for domestic and foreign companies, governments, media, works, musicians, actors, and other such clients. Some of her most notable designs include the costumes for Kohaku Uta Gassen, FNS Music Festival, Record Awards, and the World Athletics Championships. Her own custom brand “KiNG” is available bot domestically in Japan and overseas.

  • Alice French
    Assistant Editor (Big Story) and Reporter, Nikkei Asia, Nihon Keizai Shimbun

    Alice French

    Alice French graduated from the University of Cambridge, UK in 2019 with a major in Japanese Studies and then went on to study abroad at Doshisha University in Kyoto. After working as a Yamagata Prefectural Coordinator for International Relations (JET Program) from 2019 to 2021, she began working as an assistant editor and reporter for Nikkei Asia, Nihon Keizai Shimbun handling the Big Story section. Her hobbies and interests include running, climbing, and a cappella, as well as tackling social justice issues of feminism and gender issues in her everyday life.

  • Wesley さん
    Inbound operator,The Hidden Japan

    Wesley Keppel-Henry

    Wesley Keppel-Henry graduated from UC Berkeley in California, and then one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, she moved to Japan to teach English at the school for evacuees.
    Having been taken by the beauty and charm of the region, she joined a design, marketing, and translation company based here in Tohoku and then went on to become the chief editor of the Miyagi Prefecture Official Overseas Tourism Website "Visit Miyagi." Through her involvement with local tourism and business, she became an active contributor on multiple translation and interpretation projects and is now currently working at The Hidden Japan, a national travel agency based in Yamagata Prefecture.


  • Yamagata Prefectural General Affairs Manager

    Goya Kobayashi

Opening Remarks

Yamagata University Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 2nd year Nanako Kasuga
Kunori Gakuen High School 2nd year Airi Suzuki

Welcome Attraction

Autumn String Quartet

  • Kana Matsuda
    Kana Matsuda

    Kana Matsuda graduated from Osaka Kyoiku University Art Major Music Course and completed the Soai University Music Course in addition. She also graduated from Osaka College of Music Graduate School. She performed at the 26th Hiroshima City Rookie Concert as well as the final concert at the Chopin Academy Summer Course where she received a diploma. She appeared in the 10th Vega Rookie Concert, winning the Excellent Performance Award, and held a recital in Hiroshima in 2013. Matsuda attended the Phoenix OSAQA String Quartet Public Masterclass by the Japan String Quartet in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 and gives performances for high schools through the Awagin Hall Artist Dispatch Project. Some other notable performances of hers include her string quartet recitals in Yamagata, Tokyo, Osaka, and Nara and she is active as a freelance performer mainly in Tohoku and Kansai, including guest performances with orchestras such as the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra. She is also a performer at Osaka College of Music, does online lessons with Tote Conservatory "musicy", and is a "Yamagata Chamber Music Circle 'Benibana'" lecturer in addition to her pursuits as a member of the Vierklee Quartet.

  • Ryo Komagome
    Ryo Komagome

    A graduate of Yamagata University's Faculty of Education General Education Music Culture Course, from 2002 to 2011, Ryo Komagome was active as a member of the Yamagata String Quartet. In 2015 and 2017, she held solo recitals at Bunshokan Hall in Yamagata City, and in 2019, her original CD "Shiawase no Katachi" was released followed by RIM's "Summer Reflections" in 2022. Currently, she performs as a freelancer doing independent concerts, various events, and commissioned performances. She is not committed to any one genre of music with her repertoire including classical music, jazz, and pop. As an orchestral string instrument educator, she devotes time to teaching younger musicians as well. She is a member of "Piano Trio Trifolio", "Bijoux & Ryo", "Bouquet de Bijoux", "Mori no String Quartet", "Ichi Ni no Trio", "Toricot de Musique" and "RIM" and is a part-time lecturer at Yamagata Kita High School's music department. She currently presides over the "Fermata Violin School" in Yamagata City.

  • Saori Nagatomi
    Saori Nagatomi

    Saori Nagatomi started playing the piano at the age of 3 and learned the horn in junior high school. Her first encounter with the cello however was when she entered the science and mathematics department at Miyagi Daiichi Girls' High School. After the 2011 earthquake, she received support from the NPO Yellow Angel, and she graduated from Toho Gakuen University in 2013. Nagatomi completed the NIPPON Master Class at the International Music Festival as well as the Kusatsu International Summer Music Academy Master Class and was awarded the 45th Oikawa Music Office Newcomer Audition Best Newcomer Award. Since 2020, she has been enrolled in the Prague Symphony Orchestra Online Orchestra Academy and while performing in various places such as orchestra chambers and guest performances with domestic orchestras, she also writes concert programs.

  • Kaoru Murai
    Kaoru Murai

    Kaoru Murai graduated from Tokyo Metropolitan Senior High School of the Arts , Aichi University of the Arts and has studied violin under Yoko Seto, Kazuki Sawa, Noriko Shimosaki, Keiko Yamada, Koichi Hasegawa, and viola under Miroslav Sevnotka. While she was in school, she won an encouragement award with her quartet at the audition for young artists of the Japan Chamber Music Academy. She was the concertmistress of the Academy Orchestra at the Nagoya Nikikai Opera and regularly attended the Kusatsu International Academy on a Chamber Music Scholarship. After working as a lecturer at Japan Women's University Attached High School and Tokyo Metropolitan Art High School (2002-2017), she currently is performing solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances as a freelancer, as well as teaching the Alexander Technique in various places.

Yamagata University Hanagasa Circle

Yamagata University Hanagasa Circle

Yamagata West High School Calligraphy Club

Yamagata West High School Calligraphy Club


Planning and Management:Yamagata Shimbun