a communal experience in the round

December 30 @ 4 p

December 31 @ 2 p


The Fermentation Symposium is the culmination of the year-long NEA supported “The Fermentation Laboratory,” an exploratory process that seeks to combine the aesthetics of food with the aesthetics of live performance.  

Capitalizing on the opportunity to collaborate with top artistic, culinary, and scientific talents, we have develop a multi-sensual performance combining food and performing arts that brings to mind the aesthetic quality of yugen – an indescribable beauty that is perceived with our deepest senses.

The result is a unique performance collaboration between Theatre of Yugen Artistic Director Nick Ishimaru, U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network’s Kyoko Yoshida, AEDAN Fermented Foods chefs Mariko Grady and Eri Shimizu, Dr. Carol A. Ishimaru, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota St. Paul and an expert in microbial education and teaching science through performance, Bay Area-based contemporary dance artists Megan and Shannon Kurashige of Sharp & Fine dance company, and Shinichi Iova-Koga of inkBoat dance company.

The project is inspired by the many ways fermentation influences Japanese cuisine - sake, soy sauce, miso - and the mysterious ways the uniquely Japanese organism Koji is key to fermentation and to biological processes.

We asked each artist to find something about a dish for the evening that inspired them and create a performance that brought that inspiration to life.  In turn, disparate forms of performance have been brought together and served alongside the dishes that inspired them, creating a truly total theatrical experience using all five senses.  

With these distinguished talents from different disciplines, Theatre of Yugen will develop a new theatrical event where theater and food intertwine to evoke a deep inner fulfillment. The 2017 Fermentation Lab research and development have been taking place throughout the year for the chefs and artists to inspire each other and develop ideas.  The outcome will be shared with the public as a “Fermentation Symposium” on December 30th and 31st at NOHSpace.  We have devised material for an immersive dining experience that uses the intersections of food and taste with theatre, text, music and dance as the foundations for crafting a new kind of live performance and culinary event.

Mariko Grady (founder/chef) and Eri Shimizu (chef/culinary event manager) of AEDAN, renowned specialists of fermentation food in the Bay Area will lead the culinary direction of the 2017 Fermentation Lab and the public presentation event titled “Fermentation Lab Symposium”.

The company has also invited Dr. Carol Ishimaru to San Francisco to share her knowledge as an expert in plant biology and her experience bridging the divide between science and communication.

In September, we had a smaller work-in-progress showing of the Lab, titled “Fermentation: A Tasting & Performance” as part of the development process for the “Symposium” event.   Megan and Shannon Kurashige with three additional members of their dance company, Sharp & Fine, collaborated for the first time with local koto master Shoko Hikage, while Eri Shimizu served sample portion of delicacies using fermented food products.  The tasting event was extremely informative for the culmination event which will be joined by Shinichi Iova-Koga, renowned Bay Area performance artist, Nick Ishimaru of Theatre of Yugen, and by Mariko Grady as MC.


Ready to dine with us?

The Menu


Tofu Datemaki

One of the traditional Japanese New Year food, made with egg and fish, but I arrange the recipe using Amazake and Shiokoji Tofu




Turnip and salmon Koji pickles. Traditional winter food in Ishikawa Prefecture, Middle Northern Part of Japan, using Koji and big turnip and ferment for days. The red and white color mean celebration



Shiokoji-chicken with root vegetables

Another staple of New Year Dish in Japan, called "Yahata-maki, or Yawata-maki". Burdock and carrots rolled in fish and meat. Burdock represent long and healthy life and prosperity



Miso Dengaku

Tofu or simmered daikon with miso sauce. Dengaku is name of a dish but also the name of dance which used to perform at rice planting time wishing good crops




Mochi soup. There are various kind of Zouni in Japan depend on region. For Fermentation Lab, I'm planning to make Kyoto Style Zouni with Aedan's Kyoto Sweet Miso. It has a kind of milky, rich, sweet flavor


Kuromame and Amazake Dessert

Sweet Black beans is one of the three inevitable dish for Japanese New Year. I'm thinking to make 2 layer dessert with Kuromame and Amazake, black and white


The People

Photo by Lisa Keating

Photo by Lisa Keating

Nick Ishimaru

(Director/Performer) was trained originally as a musical theatre performer and started exploring Japanese theatre while studying at Colorado State University (BA, 2005), where he directed a kabuki adaptation of Macbeth. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, (MA, 2009). His work explores a combination of Western and traditional Asian performance techniques for original creations, along with work in conventional musical theatre and Shakespeare.  Ishimaru has trained in noh and kyōgen with Theatre of Yugen for over seven years, has studied kabuki and jingju (Beijing Opera), and nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance) at the University of Hawaii.  He has presented his work at the Association for Asian Performance international conference, and taught master classes on noh and kyōgen at both the high school and collegiate level.  



KY HS10.jpg

Kyoko Yoshida

(Co-Director/Production Manager), director and founder of U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network (CTN), has served the performing arts field for over 30 years as a presenter, producer and consultant, with a focus on artistic and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan.  Since 2011, she has been working with National Performance Network and Visual Artists Network as a staff consultant for its Japan program. Based in San Francisco since 2007, she also designs and manages selected programs with Theatre of Yugen.




Mariko grady

(Chef/Performer) performed as a lead actress and voice artist of Pappa TARAHUMARA, a performance company based in Tokyo, for 30 years. She moved to San Francisco in 2000. Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Mariko started to sell her home-made fermented foods to raise funds for the victims. Mariko joined the incubator kitchen program at La Cocina in May 2012 and founded AEDAN Fermented Foods. She frequently conducts various educational workshops about her products.

Eri Shimizu

(Chef) is Event & Catering Manager at AEDAN Fermented Foods. She also works with Delica at Ferry Building Market Place and Bon nene in Mission, developing their menu. Eri graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2016. She is a certified International Health Food Master in Traditional Chinese Medicinal Cuisine, a holistic cooking theory based on the Eastern Yin-Yan philosophy, and organizes educational workshops. She is also a food and travel writer for Japanese magazines. 

Photo by Megumi Konishi

Photo by Megumi Konishi

Photo by Benjamin Hersh

Photo by Benjamin Hersh


(Performer) co-founded SHARP & FINE (S&F) in 2011. She also performs with Liss Fain Dance, where she has been a company member since 2010. She has previously worked with choreographers Christian Burns (burnsWORK), Alex Ketley (The Foundry), and Amy Seiwert, and performed with Ballet Pacifica and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. She studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan and the Academy of Ballet under the direction of Richard Gibson. She is also a writer. Her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies and she is a 2008 graduate of the Clarion Writers' Workshop at UCSD.


(Performer) co-founded S&F in 2011. She has also performed with Liss Fain Dance since joining the company in 2010, and previously worked with Christian Burns (burnsWORK), Alex Ketley (The Foundry), and Amy Seiwert. Shannon attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied under Melissa Hayden, and graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in biology. She also received extensive training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the tutelage of Summer Lee Rhatigan. Shannon is also an artist and freelance graphic designer.

Photo by Benjamin Hersh

Photo by Benjamin Hersh

Photo by Surabhi Saraf

Photo by Surabhi Saraf


(Performer) has co-directed works with Anna Halprin, Ko Murobushi, Sten Rudstrøm, Yuko Kaseki, Takuya Ishide and KT Nelson(ODC).  He has co-created performances with with music groups Rova Saxophone Quartet and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.  As a guest Director, he has worked with AXIS Dance Company.  As a dancer, he has worked as a member of the Russian Dance Theater company Do Theatre, Butoh/installation art based TEN PEN CHii in Germany with Yumiko Yoshioka, Hiroko and Koichi Tamano’s Harupin Ha, and Larry Reed’s Shadowlight Theater.  Shinichi has been teaching dance composition at Mills College since 2009. He was named one of the “25 to watch” in 2008 by Dance Magazine and awarded a “Goldie” award by the SF Bay Guardian in 2007.

Photo by Dave Hansen

Photo by Dave Hansen

Carol A. Ishimaru

(Science Consultant) received her B.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University and is now a Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. She has been the Chair of the Department, President of the American Phytopathological Society, received an Emmy Award for her documentary work on the wheat rust pathogen, and has been awarded the title of Fellow of APS, the highest honor in her field in the nation.  Her plenary session “Communicating Science” at the APS Annual Meeting in 2013 demonstrated how simply describing plant pathology through performance can have a profound impact on understanding science in the public realm.




miwa kaneko

(Production Assistant) has worked in the arts and entertainment field in a variety of roles. As a tango dancer, she performed in the Off-Broadway show Let’s Speak Tango. At the John Gore Organization, she then facilitated Japan tours of Broadway musicals, including A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls. As a project manager at Gorgeous Entertainment, she most recently worked for Japan Day @ Central ParkKafka on the Shore at Lincoln Center Festival, and Prince of Broadway. She holds a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.

The Companies

AEDAN Fermentation Foods:               

Aedan brings Japanese fermented foods that are essential to flavor and health of every traditional Japanese meal to your table. We hand craft these foods in small batch, bringing you the foundation you need to craft fresh, healthful meals for you and your family.

Our cornerstone product is hand-crafted fresh koji (Aspergillus oryzae) Koji is a natural, enzyme rich ingredient that is the starter to make miso, soy sauce, sake, shochu, mirin and vinegar. Using Aeden’s fresh handmade Koji and Koji projects you can craft numerous nourishing meals loaded with Umami.

Our goal is help you create harmony in your family, body, taste and environment by sharing these Japanese traditional products to an American market. We hope to do this in the following way.

  • Harmony for the family table

Provide ingredients that are low maintenance, easy way to infuse flavor and healthy into every dish you feed your family.

  • Harmony for your body

Build strong immune system and prevent food allergies by helping the digestive system with probiotics in fermented foods. Using Koji also lowers your salt intake, as you can use 50% less salt to get the same flavor.

  • Harmony for Taste

Koji is a super effective natural marinade for tenderizing and enhancing meats, and the secret ingredient to bring out the umami taste in meats and fish.

  • Harmony for environment

The fermented nature of the products provide easy food preservation without refrigeration! The natural ingredients and simple production process of Koji is gentle to the environment.


Sharp & Fine's PETER AND THE WOLF Choreography & direction: Megan Kurashige & Shannon Kurashige New composition & musical direction: Theo Padouvas Created in collaboration with the cast and with inspiration from Sergei Prokofiev Premiere: October 2014, ODC Theater, San Francisco Cast: Marissa Brown, Katharine Hawthorne, Max Judelson, Megan Kurashige, Shannon Kurashige, Joshua Marshall, Theo Padouvas, Aram Shelton, Carson Stein

Sharp & Fine:     

Sharp & Fine is a San Francisco based contemporary dance company founded in 2011 by sisters Megan Kurashige and Shannon Kurashige. We create performance work that brings together physically exacting choreography, structured improvisation, emotionally nuanced text, and live music to explore the power of theatrical narrative within the context of dance. Our choreography is informed by both the technical rigor of ballet and the human intensity of contemporary forms.

Sharp & Fine has been a company in residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dancesince 2012. Both Megan and Shannon are alumnae of SFCD and continue to take regular classes there. SFCD provides extraordinary, multi-disciplinary training rooted in classical ballet and the development of contemporary movement for serious dancers through a year-round program and summer intensives. SFCD is directed by Summer Lee Rhatigan and engages a faculty of outstanding educators.



inkBoat is a physical theatre and dance company founded by Shinichi Iova-Koga in 1998. The company performs in theaters and site specific locations. Repertory and research integrate the interplay of multiple artistic disciplines and viewpoints, both experimental and traditional, resulting in original performance compositions. Themes and subjects arise from meticulous examination of everyday life, with primary content arising from the body, resulting in both refined and raw expressions.

We derive inspiration from working in wild, natural settings and urban existence.

inkBoat has been awarded 5 Isadora Duncan Awards (Izzies): 2015’s “95 Rituals” received a Special Award; 2011’s “Line Between” received Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design;

"Crazy Cloud" and "Line Between" http://www.inkboat.com

2008’s “c(H)ord” received Outstanding Achievement in Company Performance;  2004’s “Ame to Ame” received Outstanding Achievement in Company Performance; and 2003’s “Heavens’ Radio” received Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design.

inkBoat has been presented by numerous venues, including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF), ODC Theater (SF), Japan Society (NY), Red Cat (LA), Southern Theater (MN), University of California (Riverside) Painted Bride (Philadelphia), Vancouver Dance Festival, Dock 11(Berlin), Fabrik Potsdam(Germany), Schloss Bröllin(Germany), Kunsthaus Graz (Austria), Divadlo Disc (Prague), Plan B (Tokyo) and Die Pratze (Tokyo).


U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network:      

U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network (CTN) was founded as an international project of Arts Midwest, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN in 2001 with its mission to provide leadership, vision, information and support to enhance cultural trade between the U.S. and Japan. After its successful and productive operation of five years in the Midwest, CTN relocated to the Pacific-rim city of San Francisco in 2006 and became an independent nonprofit organization.

In the Bay Area, CTN presented a number of Japanese artists including Mansaku-no-Kai (2012), Ko Murobushi in collaboration with inkBoat (2012-13), Hiroshi Koike Bridge Project (2015), and SCARABE (2016) as part of San Francisco International Arts Festival (www.sfiaf.org). CTN also co-presented/collaborated with Theatre of Yugen on “Mystical Abyss” in 2012, “Crazy for Words” project in 2015, and “The Fermentation Lab” in 2015-2017.

Beside presentations and productions, CTN specializes in building knowledge in the professional community and creating long-lasting working relationships between and among field colleagues.  In this capacity, CTN has led more than a dozen delegation trips by American arts professionals to Japan and by their Japanese counterparts to the U.S. Over 120 performing and visual arts professionals have participated in and benefitted from the research and presentation trips organized by CTN to date.  CTN Director, Kyoko Yoshdia, has been working as Project Director/Consultant for the U.S.-Japan Connection, an international program of the National Performance Network and Visual Artists Network (npnweb.org), headquartered in New Orleans, LA since 2011.