Jun 2, 2023

Sylff@Tokyo: Juilliard Fellow’s Community Healing Initiatives

Erika Mitsui, a 2015–16 Sylff fellowship recipient at the Juilliard School, visited the Sylff Association secretariat on May 8, 2023. She is a multitalented fellow, having graduated from Columbia University with a degree in East Asian studies before earning a master’s in violin at the Julliard School and receiving a medical degree (MD) at Columbia.

(From left) Program officer Maki Shimada, Sylff fellow Erika Mitsui, and executive director Mari Suzuki.

Her visit, which was her second to the Tokyo Foundation, came right after the Golden Week string of holidays in Japan. With her social science, musical, and medical degrees, she is contributing to society in a very unique way.

After graduating from the Juilliard School, she spent about a year playing the violin at various public venues, including an inpatient ward of a hospital. This was an eye-opening experience that convinced her that music has the power to heal people even with serious diseases like cancer and to ease emotional hardships. She thus chose to embark on a new career path that would enable her make a direct impact on the lives of people in the community.

From this summer, she will serve as a resident physician at Columbia, advancing her training in anesthesiology, internal medicine, and the respiratory system. She is also continuing to promote physical and emotional healing through music, taking part in a concert at a hospital with an orchestra.

She contributes actively to the community as a member of the New York–based Japanese Medical Society for America, exploring ways to overcome complications from COVID-19; she also works on a website to encourage both healthy and ill people to think about their life closure preferences—for example, whether or not they seek life-prolonging treatment. Most medical books about this issue are published in English, so she hopes to translate them into Japanese and other languages.

We thank Mitsui for visiting the Foundation and wish her continued success in her professional career.