Tokyo: Peter Grilli: Observing Japan: An American’s Experience Over Six Decades

Presented in cooperation with International House of Japan

Date: 16 October 2013 (Wed.)

Time: 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Language: English, without interpretation; Q&A Japanese or English

Place: International House of Japan (Roppongi), 2nd floor lecture hall (Annex)

Fee: ¥1,000 per person (reservations not required; please direct inquiries to events[at]

Writer, filmmaker, and non-profit executive, Peter Grilli will speak about highlights in his career in the field of cultural exchange with Japan. Born in New York, Grilli was raised in Tokyo from 1947 to 1959. After receiving his earliest education at the American School in Japan, he went on to attend Harvard University, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees.  He also studied at Waseda University as a special student (1961-1963) and did graduate research at Tokyo University. From 1970 to 1975, he worked as an editor at Weatherhill publishing company in Tokyo and New York. He was Director of Education, Film and Performing Arts at the Japan Society in New York for more than a decade. Subsequently, he served as Director of the Japan Project at PBS and also established an independent consultancy in New York, specializing in media and intercultural communications. He served for four years as Director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University, and in 2000 was invited to become President of The Japan Society of Boston.

Peter Grilli was a lifelong friend of Donald Richie, and now serves as Richie’s literary executor.  During his long career, he also came to know and collaborate with many other leading Japanese and American cultural figures.  His own published works include the book Furo: The Japanese Bath (Kodansha, 1985), Japan in Film (Japan Society, NY, 1984), and many articles on Japan for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, GEO, Asia Magazine, The Japan Quarterly, and other newspapers or magazines.  Films produced by Grilli include Shinto: Nature, Gods and Man in Japan; Music for the Movies: Toru Takemitsu; Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden; and Kurosawa (a two-hour television documentary co-produced by PBS and the BBC).  

Mr. Grilli will give an informal and personal talk, reflecting on historic figures he admires (such as Nakahama Manjiro, Lafcadio Hearn and Edward Sylvester Morse) and contemporary mentors (such as Isamu Noguchi, Fosco Maraini, Donald Richie, and Donald Keene), and sharing episodes from his long and diverse career. Ample time will be provided for Q&A.