Ping Chong’s Documentary Theater

Undesirable Elements "Difficult Lives"

A documentary theater constructed through interviews with six individuals who face various challenges in contemporary Japanese society.

Undesirable Elements "Difficult Lives" is the latest work of New York-based theater director Ping Chong’s ongoing “Undesirable Elements” series. In the past, this series has dealt with diverse issues surrounding refugees, orphans of war, and social and ethic minorities through an involved process with the performers. In 1995, “Gaijin” was made with eight foreigners living in Tokyo and won the Yomiuri Theater Arts Award. 24 years later, Ping Chong returns to Japan to work with director Hiromi Sakamoto. This time the narrative will be based on six individuals who are confronted with various challenges living in Japan today. These challenges are not only built into our societal system, but are also invisible. Intensive interviews with each of the six people, who will also be the performers, will become the basis for a script, constructing an unconventional documentary theater that shines light on to personal struggles and underlining tensions in our society.

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre East
1-8-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-0021
Date 18. January. 2019 7PM
19. January. 2019 2PM *after talk with Director
19. January. 2019 7PM
20. January. 2019 2PM *after session with Facilitator

Door open 30 minutes before the show start. All free seat. Not entering pre-school baby.

Venue Grand Front Osaka the KNOWLEDGE THEATER
Inside Grand Front Osaka, 3-1 Ofuka-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0011
Date 26. January. 2019 2PM *after talk with Director
26. January. 2019 7PM
27. January. 2019 2PM *after session with Facilitator

Door open 30 minutes before the show start. All free seat. Not entering pre-school baby.

Buy Tickets From 10. November. 2018
Bond type Adults Advance tickets 2500yen / On the day purchase 3000yen
Students/ Full-time with ID Advance tickets 1500yen / On the day purchase 2000yen
Children/ 18 and under Advance tickets and On the day purchase 500yen

Ticket Selling

Lawson Tickets
Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre Box Office (Only Tokyo Show)
  • Tel: 0570-010-296 (Navi Dial, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm except on closing days)

For ticket purchase of those who need Special handling and Assistance.

If you request English subtitle, Advance seat selection service for Assistance dogs, Wheelchair users and other special needs, please contact to the Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS Difficult Lives office. How to request for assistance: Please let us know your name, number of participants, necessary support, phone number and ticket shipping address by one of the following methods.

Contact The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS Difficult Lives office
Tel 03-5577-6627 (10:00 am to 5:00 pm except on Saturday, Sunday and National holiday)
FAX 03-5577-6628
Adress 4F Jimbocho- Sun Bld. 1-6 Kanda-Jimbocho Chiyoda-Ku Tokyo 101-0051
Cast & Staff


  • Daiki Nishimura
    Daiki Nishimura
    At the age of 14, Daiki Nishihara started street dancing on his own, following dance styles such as Krumping. He started contemporary dance while at university, and won third place at the 29th All Japan Dance Festival Kobe. In the creative category at the Nakano Dance Competition Tokyo, his solo won the Nakano Yobu-renmei Award. At the IDC-Kyo 5th edition, he performed in a Shintaro Hirahara production. In 2018, he participated in “Seek the Truth” by DAZZLE, which was shown at the “True Colours Festival” organized by The Nippon Foundation and UNESCO. He is active in promoting expressive forms through the body of minorities by making appearances on the media, such as NHK Educational TV “Barrier Free Variety” and “Barrier Free Collection”, and trying to bring awareness about social issues surrounding Achondroplasia and Dwarfism. He organizes his own company Wallva, and is a member of Integrated Dance Company – Kyo and AGAIGAUA - Powerd by SOCIALWORKEEERZ.
    HARMY started gymnastics at the age of four. She was captain of the winning team in the 20th and 21th Japan Junior Gymnastics Championship. In 2004, she received an achievement award from the Chiba Amateur Sports Association. After retiring from gymnastics, she started dancing at the age of 20. The following she developed multiple sclerosis (MS) and had several episodes afterwards. At 29, she is diagnosed with memory impairment, executive function disorders, attention disorder, and unilateral spatial neglect. She has trained and choreographed work for gymnastics, figure skating, and dance studios. Although there are difficulties during preparation, once on stage her disabilities are not apparent. She is an artist that transforms challenges from illness and disabilities into an expression only possible by her.
  • Hiroe Ohashi
    Hiroe Ohashi
    Hiroe Ohashi was born in Oyama city, Tochigi. She lives in a world without sound. After graduating from Utsunomiya Sakushin Gakuin High School, she started dancing, sign language theater, and filmmaking. In 1997, her video work “Sisters” was selected for “SIGHT Exhibition.” In 1999, she won the lead role, Sarah, in “Children of a Lesser God” from an open call for a production by Haiyuza Theater. For this role she won the 7th Yomiuri Theater Award for category of Best Actress. After this she moved to the United States to study theater and dance. In 2006, she started Sign Art Project.AZN and their critically acclaimed first sign musical “Call Me Hero!” She is now active as an actor.
  • Julia Olson
    Julia Olson
    Julia was born to a Japanese mother and an American father, in Gifu, Japan. At age 19, in California, she faced a traumatic car accident that broke her neck, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down. Her physical disability is from this spinal cord injury. After focusing on physical rehabilitation for the first 7 years, she then made the decision to move from California to Tokyo to start her career and independent life. She now works for a global financial firm while continuing to work on physical therapy and advocating for disability rights.
  • Yo Iwamoto
    Yo Iwamoto
    Yo Iwamoto is a double minority – diagnosed as class-two schizophrenia and gender dysphoria (sex: female, gender: male). He was bullied in upper grade elementary school and throughout middle school, and was forced to quit school during his sophomore year in high school. He locked himself up at home, but facing difficulties with his family, he had no one to express his feelings. Subsequently, he developed a mental illness and started psychiatric treatment and regularly visiting gender clinics. He tried working under the status of employment of persons with disability, but soon resigned. Now he has found a life as a painter, while continuing treatment at mental health facilities and LGBT support groups.
  • Yuriko Narita
    Yuriko Narita
    Yuriko Narita was born and raised in Tokyo. She graduated from Elementary School attached to University of Tsukuba, St. Margaret's Junior & Senior High School, and Rikkyo University Department of Letters Course of English and American Literature Department. Before graduating university, her right eye vision began to deteriorate. After working for six years she was married and had two children. Soon after, she lost her sight in the right eye. Since 2010, her vision in the left eye also began to deteriorate, and around 2017, it worsened. Today, she is diagnosed as class-two visual impairment. Her hobby is singing karaoke and playing the keyboard.


  • Ping Chong
    Ping Chong
    Playwright and Director
    Ping Chong is an internationally acclaimed theatre artist and pioneer in the use of media in the theater. Since 1972, he has created over 100 works for the stage which have been presented at major festivals and theatres worldwide. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, the highest honor specifically given for achievement in the arts to an individual artist in the United States. He has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a USA Artist Fellowship, two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards and the 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In 1992, he created the first work in the Undesirable Elements series of community-based oral history projects of which there have now been over 50 productions. His puppet theater work CATHAY: Three Tales of China was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for its Festival of China in 2005 and was presented at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, New Victory Theatre, the Vienna Festival and the World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, PRC. His adaptation of Kurosawa’s THRONE OF BLOOD, was presented at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in 2010. Theatre Communications Group has published two volumes of his plays The East West Quartet and a volume on Undesirable Elements. Recent projects include Collidescope: Further Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America, exploring the complex history of racial violence in the United States, which premiered at the University of Maryland in 2014 and was subsequently produced by the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Wake Forest University. ALAXSXA | ALASKA, a theatrical production exploring cross-cultural encounter in Alaska with puppetry, video, and Alaska Native drum and dance, which premiered in Alaska in Summer 2017 and followed by performances at La MaMa ETC in October 2017.
  • Hiromi Sakamoto
    Hiromi Sakamoto
    Producer, Co-Playwright and Co-Director
    Hiromi Sakamoto is a theater director and producer, and professor at Kindai University Department of the Arts, Performing Arts Major. After serving as drama director of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation, the public broadcasting network of Japan) for several years, he became freelance and started a New York-based international cultural exchange NPO that focuses on multicultural coexistence, and worked on producing cultural projects with Japan Foundation Performing Arts JAPAN, Agency of Cultural Affairs US-Japan Theater Arts Exchange Program, and documentary programs for NHK. He has also worked with Broadway artist in producing and directing original musicals, and has presented dance work in collaboration with members of New York City Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem. He met Ping Chong in New York and participated as one of the original cast members of Undesirable Elements in 1992. For its second performance he was the assistant director.
Producer Kyoko Suzuki
Production Stage Manager Toru Hirai
Lighting Designer Mika Sakaki/Eyes
Sound Designer Tomomi Kishi
Projection Designer Keisuke Takahashi
Production Assistant Kennosuke Sagawa
Sign Language Interpreters Ichiro Hashimoto, Kozue Tamura
Voice Acting as Hiroe Ohashi Mikoe Okubo
Audio Guide Chihoko Hiratsuka, Kyoko Tanaka, Miyuki Tanaka, Kenta Hayashi, Sawa Tsukahara
Production Company Ping Chong + Company, NPO CUE ARTS, Realize Co
Public Relations Ryuichiro Mori/nagisato
Photographer for PR Ryohei Tomita
Organizer The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS
Co-Organizer Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre (Only Tokyo Show)
Cooperate NHK Global Media Services, Inc.


Contact The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS Difficult Lives office
TEL 03-5577-6627 (10:00 am to 5:00 pm except on Saturday, Sunday and National holiday)
FAX 03-5577-6628
Address 4F Jimbocho- Sun Bld. 1-6 Kanda-Jimbocho Chiyoda-Ku Tokyo 101-0051

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