BETHANY, W.Va. — The Bethany College Japan Outreach Program will introduce their Fall Special, "Artists in Residence Program," to Kindergarten through twelfth graders in area schools and at festivals throughout the state.

Michiko Oda, the Japan Outreach Coordinator, will visit classrooms with special musical guests and perform concerts in hopes to enhance local communities understanding of the Japanese culture.

Oda established a K-12 visit program last March, and has already visited nineteen schools, and reached out to over 4,000 school children in the area. This fall special program is currently scheduled to visit ten schools including Wheeling Park High School, Brooke High School, The Linsly School, Wellsburg Middle School, Follansbee Middle School, Franklin Primary School, Criss Elementary School and three schools in Virginia.

Other cultural performances slated for this fall will include the Gauley River Festival on September 21 and 22, the Oglebay Festival on October 6, a performance at the University of Pittsburgh on October 13, Wheeling Downtown River Front on October 17, Bethany College on October 11 and October 18 and DrumTalk ‘07 on October 19.

Takumi Kato and Ryo Shiobara, professional Japanese musicians, will be joining Oda as she visits area schools and festivals as well as Bethany College.

Kato, a Japanese TAIKO soloist, started his professional drumming activities over six years ago in the Unites States. He also received professional training from KODO, one of the leading TAIKO groups in Japan, in 2004-2006. He has recently moved to Los Angeles where he performs many concerts attracting thousands of people.

Shiobara, a traditional Japanese music performer, recently won the highest award at Japan's most prominent Taiko competition. Shiobara played as a member of the Professional Performing Arts Group in Japan for 13 years. He won first place in the Fuji Mountain Taiko competition in 1999 and the Fukui Taiko Music Competition in 2002. He has also been touring in the Unites States, Taiwan, and most recently Hungary.

A special collaboration concert, “East Meets West,” featuring Shiobara, Kato, and Pandel L. Collaros, Bethany Assistant Professor in Fine Arts-Music, was held on September 13 at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Bethany College Japan Outreach program will continue to bring Japanese culture to the area until June 2008. Any requests/questions, please contact Michiko Oda at