Great Leap Sets Workshops, Film Screenings, Dance for World Environment Day


Nobuko Miyamoto of Great Leap poses with waribashi (disposable wooden chopsticks) to promote the video "BYO Chopstix."

Great Leap, in collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum, will premiere the music video “Mottainai” as part of an informative and fun-filled day of performance, video screenings, participatory workshops and a ritual dance to celebrate World Environment Day at the museum’s National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (NCPD) in Little Tokyo on Sunday, June 5, beginning at 1 p.m. and continuing to 6 p.m.

“Mottainai” is a Japanese word that loosely translates as “it’s a shame to waste nature.” It is a cultural tradition that has helped sustain Japanese people through hard times. Today it finds new meaning in this critical moment of climate change.

The day opens and ends with performances of “Order to Go,” a production created within Great Leap’s Collaboratory mentorship program under the direction of Dan Kwong. With a generous helping of humor, OTG combines personal stories, cultural history, puppetry, and hard facts that illustrate the roots of our disposable society and challenge us to change our habits. The show plays twice, at 1 and 5 p.m.

A premiere screening of the music video “Mottainai” will be shown on the eve of its Internet release for World Environment Day, as well as Great Leap’s first video “BYO Chopstix,” about the 100 billion pairs of disposable wood chopsticks that are used and thrown away every year. These videos aim to show small ways people can change to make a big difference to the environment.

From 2 to 5 p.m. there will be creative and informative workshops and lecture/demos for all ages, offering ways to embrace a greener lifestyle.

Finally, community participants will learn a new Obon dance created by Nobuko Miyamoto for the “Mottainai” song. The dance was created for the summer tradition of Obon, in which Buddhists mark the passing of their loved ones. It will be performed at 15 Obon festivals from San Diego to San Luis Obispo this summer.

The new dance will premiere on June 5 and be performed live by the Eco Band. Participants will be invited to dance around a waribashi tree, made with disposable wooden chopsticks, a creation by renowned artist Clement Hanami. This community ritual dance is an offering to help remember, share and pass on the spirit of “mottainai” for all generations and peoples.

Kenyan Nobel Prize winner Prof. Wangari Maathai has introduced “mottainai” to the international community and adopted it in her Green Belt Movement. Miyamoto and Great Leap want to share it with the Southern California community. Celebrated by thousands the world over, World Environment Day is an initiative of the United Nations. India is this year’s global host, with the theme of “Forests: Nature at Your Service.”

Tickets are $15 general, $10 for seniors and students. The National Center for the Preservation of Democracy is located across the courtyard from the Japanese American National Museum’s Pavilion at 369 E. First St., Los Angeles. For more information, contact Great Leap at (213) 250-8800 or go to


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