Mr Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Keiko Kishi,
In 1959, Alain Resnais takes to the screen Hiroshima my love, fed on the dialogues of Marguerite Duras. Between France and Japan, there is undoubtedly a merging part, a game of seduction and attraction that the directors, but also the intellectuals, the writers seized over trips and meetings.
If there is a Japanese artist whose life embodies a love story between France and Japan, it is undoubtedly you, Keiko Kishi. A love story that was born thanks to cinema. It was indeed he who brought you, Yves Ciampi and you in 1957, together for an unforgettable film: Typhoon on Nagasaki. How can we forget Jean Marais falling madly in love with the sublime Keiko in kimono? How can we forget Danielle Darrieux, who came to try to snatch Jean Marais from her by making herself look like a geisha?
And this film was only the beginning of this long relationship of constancy and fidelity. Beyond the huge actress, solar, radiant, it is the woman I want to address. It is impossible not to mention your marriage to Yves Ciampi, who took you to Paris for a new life, at a time when you are at the height of your glory in Japan.
This immersion in another world leads you to become the ambassador of France in Japan and that of Japan in France. In Japan, you have made our country known, with your reports for the Japanese television and press: we see you walking around Paris at the arm of Robert Doisneau or discovering the Ile Saint-Louis that is dear to you. Conversely in France, it is you who introduce Japan to André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, who all attended your show! In the Franco-Japanese cultural relationship, you are an intermediary, an obligatory smuggler, one of those personalities who open a path of dialogue and encounters between the cultural worlds.
I will not go back over your exceptional filmography, which has won many awards, because everyone here remembers the films of Yasujiro Ozu, Kon Ichikawa, not to mention Kei Kumai or Sydney Pollack. Allow me to say a word about your action in favour of French cinema, since you participated in the selection and you were a member of the jury of the French Film Festival in Yokohama, alongside Daniel Toscan du Plantier and Jeanne Moreau.
And how could French viewers forget «the eastern amazon» that appears in the Knights of Heaven in 1969?
I would not like to forget your book-testimony on your Parisian life, prize for the best essay in 1998, which left a deep mark on Japanese readers. This evening, we also wanted to honour the woman of writing, the woman who is free and in love with modernity.
Your life is that of a long and beautiful love story between our two countries, between our two cultures, which we know how much they have dialogue through Malraux, through Claudel and through many other figures of the Republic of Letters. Malraux went to Japan for the first time in 1931; in The Human Condition, it talks about Kobe Bay saturated with light and “the glare of Japanese spring.” At each of your apparitions, know dear Keiko Kishi, that it is this same feeling that invades us.
It is therefore with great pleasure that we present to you, on behalf of the French Republic, the insignia of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.
Dear Reiko Nishioka Kruk,
With you, Paul Valéry’s famous phrase takes on its full meaning: "The deepest thing in man is the skin."
In the Nagasaki region, there is the town of Isahaya, where you were born. This sumptuous south of the Japanese archipelago is also the scene of the plot of an opera by Puccini that brought us together: Madame Butterfly.
It is in a Japan in full economic revival that you make your debut in advertising, as designer for the NBC Nagasaki television channel. Then the world of cosmetics calls you, in Osaka, before you move to Paris with your husband Maurice Kruk. You then enter the arcanes of large houses like L'Oréal and Guerlain. This knowledge of the environment gives you all the assets to take action: entering the world of the show.
In 1977, you created «Métamorphoses», a workshop specializing in make-up for special effects – a field previously unexplored in France. Your ability to take charge of projects from their conception to their completion opens the doors of cinema, theatre and opera. You are now working for the greatest names on the screen and the stage: Werner Herzog, Rudolf Nureyev, Antoine Vitez, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Jean-Paul Goude, Hideyuki Hirayama, Patrice Chéreau… Master of surfaces in suspended time of meticulous and endless make-up and fitting sessions, you create masks that reveal or conceal the passions of the characters, for the short time of the screen and the scene.
Since then, you have broadened your creative palette by becoming artistic director on many projects, including Madame Butterfly which I had the pleasure of working on with you. You also made two short films, Luna Rosa and The Flame, as well as videos for the most prestigious singers. Your exhibitions touch on the literal meaning of the term «plastic arts», notably «Skin Art», which we have seen in Japan, Paris and Canada.
This art of the skin, you will have declined in all possible forms, opera, cinema, theater, advertising, makeup proper morphing and 3D, transfiguring the bodies and faces, that of Ying Huang in the role of Cio-Cio-San, those of Marc Lavoine, Bernard Giraudeau, Sophia Loren… With also a remarkable talent to reveal the dark side of the most disturbing dreamlike universes: I think of the fabulous Nosferatu played by Klaus Kinski; to this head forgotten in a suitcase in The Sentinel by Arnaud Desplechin; the Master and Margarita directed by Andrei Şerban, Turandot by Teshigahara; groins for Ibsen in Peer Gynt by Chéreau; headgear for a Stravinsky Jocaste performed by Jessye Norman in theOedipus Rex by Julie Taymor; giant claws, hands and feet for The magic flute, icons, statues that come alive… Masks, skins, envelopes, textures, wax and plastic, skinned and futuristic prostheses, these are your materials, those that unlock the imagination and reveal beauty, those that question us about the nature of these deceptive surfaces that shape and deform the human.
For all these reasons, because France has long been your land of adoption and creation, we confer you the insignia of Officer in the order of Arts and Letters.
Dear Jirô Taniguchi,
The French are, as you know, great readers of comics, both European and Japanese. The taste for Japanese manga has found in our country an election land.
In the abundant nebula of manga, a star caught the attention of French readers. It is your work, dear Jiro Taniguchi, which is distinguished by its very particular pictorial universe, halfway between the tradition of the clear line of Franco-Belgian comics and manga. This meeting with European authors, it is at your beginnings that you make it, then assistant of Kazuo Kamimura: you discover then a universe very different from the codes of Japanese mangas – that of Moebius, that of François Schuiten, among other great names that have marked you.
Your first successes are immediately characterized by the variety of genres that you approach: adventure, the detective inspired by American black novels, historical manga too - with notably In the time of Botchan, in collaboration with Netsuo Sekikawa, for whom you won the Award of Excellence of the Japanese Mangaka Association in 1993. In this superb five-volume fresco, you describe the contradictions of intellectuals shared between East and West in this key period in the history of contemporary Japan represented by the Meiji era.
Your success is also linked to your ability to create realistic universes, but that leave room for wandering and daydreaming. This original style made you the father of the «new manga». I think The walking man, a magnificent praise of the slowness in urban environments, a learning of the gaze with which many French have discovered the variety and the extraordinary subtlety of the art of manga. I am also thinking, of course, of Distant neighborhood, a masterpiece with Proustian accents published by Casterman, which explores the memory of a 48-year-old man returning to the traces of his adolescence, and where there are also autobiographical accents about your childhood in Tottori. Awarded an Alph'art for best screenplay at the 2003 Angoulême Film Festival, its French success was such that it was adapted to the cinema by Sam Garbarski, in a film where you make a smiling appearance, in a wink for this passage between the arts.
You have also collaborated many times with the most important French writers. You made the illustration of the album Icarus on an original Moebius script. In a more realistic vein, you collaborated in 1997 with one of your translators, the Frenchman Frédéric Boilet, in the album Tokyo is my Garden. Among many other albums, I will mention other successes The top of the gods, in which it is mountaineering and the quests of the surpassing of oneself that occupy you: volume 2 brings you a new recognition in Angoulême, with the Prize of drawing in 2005. Finally, since 2009, you have been publishing My Year, a comic book in four volumes produced with the French writer Jean-David Morvan. The uncertainty of everyday life, the everyday moments, the family circle and the story of a little girl with a disability in Normandy, the silences of intimacy that change feelings are the material of this remarkable new work, in which we also find, as in many of your works, the rhythm of the Ozu of Late spring and of Tokyo trip.
Because you are simply one of the giants of the Ninth Art, because it is the history of a deep friendship that binds you to France, dear Jiro Taniguchi, on behalf of the French Republic, we give you the insignia of Chevalier in the order of Arts and Letters.
Dear Yuko Kibayashi, Dear Shin Kibayashi,
Some may wonder why the order of agricultural merit should be restored at a ceremony dedicated to the celebration of arts and creation? In 2010, the French gastronomic meal - of which wine is an essential element - was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity. It is a reflection of the preponderance of culinary heritage in our international reach. Centuries-old tradition and know-how, a shared celebration of taste and conviviality are the elements that convinced Unesco of the relevance of this candidacy.
More than an outdated oripeau, more than a dusty heritage, the gastronomic meal is indeed the fruit of a subtle alchemy between elements as varied as the landscape, the built heritage, the rhythm of the seasons, the language and its expressions, the manufacture of utensils and objects. In other words, it is an expression of this «process of civilization» formerly described by Norbert Elias. It is, at the time of the standardization of taste and the standardization of products and modes of consumption, one of the key cards allowing our country to carry the demand of cultural diversity in Europe and in the world.
Wine is intimately linked to culture and artists. Poets have sung the delights of it – from Drunk boat from Arthur Rimbaud to Flowers of evil of Baudelaire - the philosophers have bent their virtues of this «purple liquor» (Bachelard), not to mention composers and singers.
In a very serious book, André Tchernia, had already explored the history of the vine and wine in antiquity. Jean-Louis Flandrin, born in Touraine, this «garden of France», historian of cultural practices and the sensitive, had given to the history of food its academic nobility. Thanks to you, dear Shin and Yuko Kibayashi, who have written a series of books on French wine entitled The drops of God, wine has now entered the world of Japanese manga. This exciting and exhilarating thriller is also a celebration of French wine and vineyards. She is recognized as such by the world of oenology which has awarded her multiple awards. With more than 380,000 copies and numerous translations, its success was considerable, before it was adapted for television. Among the young public, this series has greatly contributed to preserving and renewing the image of French wine in the archipelago.
This success is the fruit of a huge field work – an archaeology of «small pleasures», in a way - since you have tasted all the wines you talk about in your works! - carefully surveyed the winegrowers to produce a genuine encyclopedia of the best wines. Your book is an invitation to travel that makes us discover the domains of Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Pichon-Longueville, Château Beychevelle, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and many others.
Vineyards, let us not forget, are inscribed in a history of territories and landscapes, in a history of these “country names” dear to Marcel Proust – Gevrey-Chambertin, Morgon, Pauillac, Jurançon – that shape a culture of the senses as much as an experience of memory, a present delight as much as a future always recomposed. From the confraternity of the Compagnons du Beaujolais to the «Medoc marathon», it seems to me that few wine rituals have escaped you!
How can we fail to recognize in you, dear Shin Kibayashi, dear Yuko Kibayashi, not only great artists and creators but also lovers of France, its landscapes and its culture.
So, dear Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, we present you with the insignia of Knights of Agricultural Merit.