San Francisco, CA
Tokyo, JP

Scroll to continue


A cross cultural, cross generational, storytelling experience connecting Tokyo and San Francisco through contemporary dance, film, and jazz

Follow on Instagram

After 10 months of choreographing, filming, composing, and zooming across time zones, TONARI first launched as a film and live performance, and continues to inspire the world as a short art film.

In praise of the remix, this project is the future of art; elevating each other's cultures through collaboration, because culture is best shared.


What is TONARI?

TONARI (となり) is the Japanese word in common vernacular for “next to” or “neighbor.” Typically we think of our neighbors as the people closest to us. The ones we wave to in the morning on our way to work, or the barista at the local coffee shop who already knows your order.

But in the modern world, you can Zoom a Japanese drummer thousands of miles away and instantly ask him to play a fan drum. Your mother living in California can complain about how messy your room is over Facetime. And suddenly your neighbors are not just the people in the house next door. The person next to you, can both be an ocean away and right in front of you.

This project TONARI highlights two neighbors who sit 8,000 miles away: Tokyo and San Francisco. Every member of the TONARI team represents a unique connection point between the US and Japan, and our piece weaves the beauty of these two cities on the water through film, dance, and music.

Press Room



Instagram: @wearetonari


In America’s hyper-sensitive racial climate, art forms and energies tend to be landlocked. Often public reactions confine artists and audiences by their backgrounds: your identity becomes a barrier of what you can create and what you can enjoy. Sentiments of gatekeeping, “Black music is only for black people” or “Only Japanese people can wear kimonos” are pervasive. Meanwhile, Japan’s physical borders have been closed from the rest of the world for over two years which has created challenges for artists in Japan to exchange and showcase Japanese culture on the global stage.

This piece seeks to explore new ways for performing arts to connect cultures and people together for learning and creation by merging physical with digital culture, fusing traditional with contemporary art forms and forging a pathway for Tokyo, San Francisco, Black and Japanese art exchange for the first time. With this piece, we must break open these borders. This is not cultural appropriation, this is unabashedly pushing forward culture, together.

SF Gazette Article