It’s been a quite a while since Étienne Bourgois (president of the Tara Ocean Foundation) and Romain Troublé (the Foundation’s executive director) have been together aboard the schooner. They’ve joined the crew and will be with us until Kobe, where Tara will be welcomed by the famous Japanese actor/director Takeshi Kitano to celebrate this major stopover.
BEFORE CONTINUING HER SCIENTIFIC MISSION, THE SCHOONER WILL SAIL FROM ONE CITY IN JAPAN TO ANOTHER, SHARING TARA’S ADVENTURES AND DISCOVERIES WITH THE PUBLIC. THIS IS TARA’S FIRST TIME IN JAPAN. WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE TARA FOUNDATION AND THIS COUNTRY?
The general public doesn’t know it yet, but a few months ago we created a Tara Ocean Foundation in Japan. Besides the boat’s prolonged visit here, we’re beginning to develop local actions around the Tara project. We created the Foundation so that the Japanese public and partners can join and support the project. I’ve been coming here since 1982 to represent the brand agnès b., Tara’s founding sponsor. Japan has been our largest foreign subsidiary for a very long time: we have about 135 shops and nearly 700 employees.
Etienne Bourgois aboard Tara in Onomichi © Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Expeditions Foundation
THE PUBLIC HERE WILL BE ABLE TO SUPPORT TARA THROUGH THE JAPANESE TARA OCEAN FOUNDATION ?
Thanks to the support of agnès b. we hope to get Japanese people to participate in projects around Tara and eventually fund scientific projects in their country. We want to use the agnès b. network and our partners to echo the Tara Ocean Foundation project, working to raise awareness about the importance of the oceans, but also about problems of pollution. Here everything is wrapped in plastic.There ‘s a huge amount of packaging.
Yes, estimates are 31 billion plastic bags distributed per year — an average of 5 plastic bags per person per week. I think this is a real opportunity to talk to the Japanese people about the oceans. Not to discuss fish stocks or fishing, but to approach the whole issue of oceans in a different way: To talk about the major role oceans have in the climate process, and bring up all the questions Tara has been raising for more than 10 years. We aim to advance on an international level the understanding of issues related to the protection of the oceans. The stakes are very high!
Young students come aboard Tara in Onomichi © Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Expeditions Foundation
RAISING AWARENESS HAS ALREADY STARTED, AND THE PUBLIC CAME TO MEET US. TARA HAS ALREADY WELCOMED ABOARD 500 PEOPLE DURING THE LAST 2 STOPOVERS IN JAPAN. WHAT A WONDERFUL WELCOME!
Since the boat arrived in Japan we’ve seen that people are very enthusiastic. The Tara Junior newspaper has been translated and published in Japanese, and it is much appreciated in the country of mangas! We would like to find local partners to take up the educational tools we’ve developed and adapt them to this country. Big changes can occur by educating children.
ABOARD TARA, RAISING AWARENESS ALSO HAPPENS THROUGH ART. ARTISTS HAVE AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE TARA PROJECT. TAKESHI KITANO WILL BE WELCOMING US IN KOBE.
Yes, Tara’s arrival here is also linked to Kitano San*, who has been helping us for years
2 artists are already on board: Maki, a young woman, and also Hibino San. Takeshi Kitano – an artist, performer, actor – is one of the most famous personalities in Japan. We are very happy that he is Tara’s ambassador!
Painting with 4 hands: Hibino and Maki, Japanese artists in residence aboard Tara © François Aurat / Tara Expeditions Foundation
THE TARA PROJECT IS SUCCESSFUL THANKS TO SUPPORT FROM PEOPLE LIKE HIBINO SAN AND KITANO SAN, BUT ALSO THANKS TO CERTAIN FINANCIAL PARTNERS. WHO ARE THESE PARTNERS IN JAPAN?
The Tara project is very efficient, but costs a lot of money and requires funding from donors and sponsors to sustain it. Our founder and first sponsor, agnès b. is of course our main partner. For 2 years we’ve been working with the help of Michel Temman to make the project known in Japan so that the media would become interested along with the public, and financial sponsors would consider us. Because that’s how it works. We’ve initiated 2 co-productions with the NHK, the main Japanese TV channel that has already produced a documentary (aired for 20 million people) and is preparing a second one. We have set up a collaboration with Hearst Fujinghao, a Japanese-American press group. Kankyo Station, a real estate company, joined us this week. Other friends and contributors accompanied us in all the local procedures: Sylvain Agostini, Kei Nakaji, and our agent Yoneyama San. And of course, we have strong scientific partnerships that strengthen our credibility in the region: the Universities of Tsukuba (Tokyo), Kochi, Kyoto and Ryukyu.
Romain Troublé © Noëlie Pansiot / Tara Expeditions Foundation
WITHOUT THESE PARTNERS, TARA WOULD PROBABLY NOT BE HERE. THE JAPANESE ADMINISTRATION IS A DIFFICULT MACHINE FOR FRENCH PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND.
It’s a complicated country in terms of administration. Procedures are numerous, complex, and of course take place in another language. The whole team, assisted by the French Embassy, made a huge effort to prepare this first visit. We managed to organize 8 stopovers, as well as Franco-Japanese cooperation on a scientific mission that promises to be very interesting.
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot.
San* : a word expressing respect placed after a person’s name. It means Madame or Sir in Japanese.
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