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The Best Japan Cultural Expo Programs for this Summer

Throughout the year, Japan Cultural Expo is presenting diverse programs for first-hand experiences of Japan’s beauty, such as art exhibitions, theatrical performances, and art festivals. Programs this summer will cover many genres across Japan, ranging from a participatory event for all generations, to the Bon Dance festival for enjoying music, to an art exhibition for contemplating works of a renowned contemporary artist.

This newsletter features summer vacation programs for all generations, be it an experience at a summer travel destination or your kids’ summer vacation research project. It would be a wonderful opportunity to rediscover the beauty of Japan through cultural experiences, which had been rather rare under the pandemic.

Participatory programs for all generations to enjoy together

Featured here are programs for everyone, such as TNM Kids Day, offering the experience of original writing box paper crafting and rakugo, among other activities, at Tokyo National Museum, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, as well as a festival featuring Bon Dance, one embodiment of Japanese culture.

Art exhibition programs to reflect on and appreciate art

Featured here are programs for contemplating art and enjoying the charm of Japanese culture, such as a large-scale retrospective exhibition of world-renowned contemporary artist Lee Ufan, an exhibition that lets you feel Japan’s four seasons through masterpieces, and an exhibition featuring a water motif.

Message from Tanihara Shosuke, a Japan Cultural Expo Official Supporter, about charm of Japan’s arts and culture

Tanihara Shosuke talks about finding one’s way to experience Japanese culture and enjoy Japan’s beauty.

Participatory programs for all generations to enjoy together

Although the general perception is that we should quietly appreciate arts and culture, they also create a space for many people to exchange, connect, resonate, and sympathize with others. Therefore, Japan Cultural Expo will present programs for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their age.

TNM Kids Day! Once Every Month!
Paper craft, rakugo experience, and workshops for parents and children to enjoy together

At Tokyo National Museum, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary, TNM Kids Day is held every fourth Sunday of the month, from April this year to March 2023. This program aims to offer parents and children the opportunity to experience the fun that the museum can offer, while fostering deep interaction with Japanese culture and performing arts. Programs include reading books to participants in front of the related artwork and printing out paper craft sheets which participants can design. Another program is YOSE—Show RAKUZA—at TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM, in which parents and children will not only appreciate rakugo, but also experience doing it firsthand. Show RAKUZA will also be held at other venues where people can enjoy it while sightseeing, including Tokyo Tower.

At the Family Gallery: Introducing Traditional Techniques of Japanese Art V, which is held on the 2nd floor of the Japanese Gallery (Honkan), attention is directed not to cultural properties, but also materials and techniques used for lacquerware, pottery, and kimono, offering a new perspective on enjoying Japanese art.

[Dates and Venues]
TNM Kids Day
Sunday, August 28, 2022, at Tokyo National Museum (Taito City, Tokyo)

Family Gallery: Introducing Traditional Techniques of Japanese Art V
Wednesday, July 20–Sunday, August 28, 2022 at Tokyo National Museum (Taito City, Tokyo)

YOSE—Show RAKUZA—at TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM
Sunday, August 28, 2022, at Tokyo National Museum (Taito City, Tokyo)
*Tokyo Tower Show RAKUZA: Saturday, August 27, 2022, at Tokyo Tower (Minato City, Tokyo)

TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM
https://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en
YOSE—Show RAKUZA—
https://japanculturalexpo.bunka.go.jp/en/programs/687/

Japan Bon Dance Festival 2022
Presenting a new Bon Dance culture by fusing Japanese culture and world music

Japan Bon Dance Festival 2022 is Japan Cultural Expo’s first participatory Bon Dance festival. Koshino Junko, a world renowned fashion designer and a Person of Cultural Merit, has produced this program, making it an embodiment of a “new Bon Dance culture.” Fusing Bon Dance—a more than one-thousand-year-old tradition in Japan—and music across the globe, this festival offers an entirely new experience.

The program consists of a Day Part and Night Part. In the Day Part, Bon Dance from across Japan will be presented onstage with video and actual performance. Audiences will be invited to experience Bon Dance with instructions.

In the Night Part, the special stage will be lit up brightly to present diverse Bon Dance from across Japan in an atmosphere distinct from the Day Part. The special performance stage will feature a fusion of Japanese Bon Dance and world music such as salsa, which will also feature participatory content for audience members to dance together.

Date
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Venue
Ikebukuro West Exist Park Open-Air Theatre Global Ring Theatre (Toshima City, Tokyo)

Enjoy a Ballet Performance Featuring Cute Dancing Penguins at the New National Theatre, while Learning about Environmental Issues
Ballet for Children

Photo by SHIKAMA Takashi

In the summer vacation period, Ballet for Children at the New National Theatre will present ‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café, a popular work by the UK’s renowned ballet dancer/choreographer David Bintley.

‘Still Life’ at the Penguin Café is a work with deep meaning, which in contrast to the animals’ cute dance, delivers fierce messages that critique civilization. The penguins and other animals that dance to pop music are actually endangered or already extinct species. Prior to the performance, a pre-show talk about animals and the environment will be given. English simultaneous interpretation service will be available on July 27, 30 and 31.

Date
Wednesday, July 27–Sunday, July 31, 2022
Venue
New National Theatre, Tokyo (Shibuya City, Tokyo)
Link
https://www.nntt.jac.go.jp/english/productions/ballet/penguin-cafe-2022.html

Art and art exhibition programs to reflect on artworks and appreciate art

Japan Cultural Expo has organized opportunities to contemplate artworks, reflect on oneself, and discover a new perspective as well as the charm of Japanese culture, such as the retrospective exhibition of works by Lee Ufan, a world-renowned contemporary artist, and an exhibition that allows one to feel Japan’s four seasons through masterpieces.

Retrospective of Lee Ufan, a leading figure in Mono-ha
The National Art Center, Tokyo

This summer, The National Art Center, Tokyo will host a large-scale retrospective of works by Lee Ufan, a contemporary artist who is a leading figure of Mono-ha, one of the most important art movements in postwar Japan.

He spearheaded Mono-ha, in which natural and artificial materials are combined in temperate manner. His works raise questions about the relationship between things as well as between things and people. The exhibition allows viewers to appreciate Lee’s representative works thoroughly, including his earliest pre-Mono-ha pieces and Relatum series, which changed the concept of sculpture.

Date
Wednesday, August 10–Monday, November 7, 2022
Venue
The National Art Center, Tokyo (Minato City, Tokyo)
Link
https://leeufan.exhibit.jp/english/

Appreciate the Beauty of Japan’s Four Seasons through Masterpieces!
Okada Museum of Art

Chrysanthemums
Ogata Kōrin
Early Edo period, beginning of the 18th century

The Beauty of Nature—Japan’s Four Seasons in Masterpieces, currently running at Okada Museum of Art, is a special exhibition where visitors can feel the four seasons of Japan through Japanese classic paintings. Along with paintings, craftworks including ceramics and lacquerwares totaling 100 objects from both Part I and Part II, are on display, inviting visitors to enjoy Japan’s four seasons depicted on each work.
Since ancient times, Japanese people with an affinity for nature have cherished the features of the four seasons, expressing their scenic beauty and bursting emotions in paintings and poems. The Part II (Autumn/Winter) of the exhibition features artworks that represent profound seasonal themes, such as autumn leaves and chrysanthemums—autumn plants that have long been loved—as well as snowy landscapes. Located amidst Hakone’s abundant natural environment, the museum offers an experience of appreciating such artworks together with the actual transition of seasons.

Date
Part II (Autumn/Winter) Saturday, July 16–Sunday, December 18, 2022
Venue
Okada Museum of Art (Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture)
Link
https://www.okada-museum.com/en/exhibition/

Yamatane Museum of Art Holds an Exhibition with the Theme of Water
A refreshing exhibition fitting for summer

Senju Hiroshi Waterfall
Yamatane Museum of Art

At the exhibition currently running at Yamatane Museum of Art, The Shape of Water—From the War Between the Genji and Heike Clans to Senju Hiroshi’s Waterfalls Series, various Japanese artworks are exhibited under the theme of water. For people living on the island of Japan, water has been a familiar presence since ancient times. In nihonga, from landscape paintings featuring the sea, lakes, rivers, or waterfalls as their themes to historical paintings depicting waterside scenes, a broad range of works with water as a central motif can be found, regardless of period or genre.

This exhibition presents masterworks impressively depicting the many faces of water. War Between Genji and Heike Clans (from the Tale of the Heike), produced during the Edo period, is set at the seashore. Utagawa Hiroshige’s pictures of famous places on display include A Hundred Famous Views of Edo: Evening Shower at Ōhashi Bridge, famed as a masterly depiction of rain. Kawabata Ryūshi’s The Black Current presents the ocean though a lavish use of azurite blue pigment. The exhibition also includes Senju Hiroshi’s Waterfalls Series, which has become synonymous with that artist.

Date
Saturday, July 9–Sunday, September 25, 2022
Venue
Yamatane Museum of Art (Shibuya City, Tokyo)
Link
https://www.yamatane-museum.jp/exh/english/2022/water.html

Message from Tanihara Shosuke, a Japan Cultural Expo Official Supporter, about the charm of Japan’s arts and culture

Having continued from the Jomon period, Japanese culture has produced various beautiful arts. From sculptures such as statues of the Buddha and traditional performing arts such as kabuki, through ukiyo-e to kimono, each art form represents a wonderful symbol of Japanese beauty. As a Supporter of Japan Cultural Expo, I’m very happy to contribute to such a great project to disseminate Japanese beauty.

Although many programs have had to be canceled because of the novel coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic, we are seeing that an increasing number of programs can now be implemented. This summer will see diverse programs happening across Japan, such as Bon Dance, in which everyone is invited to join, workshops for families to make a memory of summer vacation, and art exhibitions for thoroughly appreciating artworks. “Appreciating Japanese art and culture” may sound intimidating. Yet, I believe your own way is the best way. For the summer vacation season, why not embark on a journey to rediscover the beauty of Japan and Japanese culture?

Enjoy Japanese Beauty Online! Japan Cultural Expo’s VIRTUAL PLATFORM

In addition to “real” experiences at physical venues across Japan, Japan Cultural Expo presents diverse digital content such as the VIRTUAL PLATFORM, a digital gallery, and YouTube videos. Launched in 2021, the VIRTUAL PLATFORM allows you to experience “The Beauty of Japan,” represented in diverse forms such as art exhibitions, stage performances, nature, and art festivals, by freely exploring the metaverse and through videos, VR, and images.

Moreover, we opened a special exhibition in June, in collaboration with Spinning Crocodiles, Tamura Satoru, a solo exhibition of contemporary artist Tamura Satoru running at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The crocodile monument appears at the Japan Cultural Expo’s virtual space and visitors can appreciate actual works’ 3D CG.

Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM
https://japanculturalexpo.bunka.go.jp/en/vp/

[Other Japan Cultural Expo programs scheduled for this summer]

National Theatre Summer Vacation Family Program

Prefecture
Tokyo
Osaka
Venue
National Noh Theatre
National Bunraku Theatre
Date
Kyogen for Families
August 6 (Sat) / National Noh Theatre (Tokyo)

Noh for Families
August 27 (Sat) / National Noh Theatre (Tokyo)

Summer Vacation Bunraku Performance Part 1: Family Summer Holiday Show
July 16 (Sat)–August 4 (Thu) / National Bunraku Theatre (Osaka)
Link
https://www.ntj.jac.go.jp/en/

*Some performances have only a small number of tickets left. For details, please check the National Theatre Ticket Center Website.

Link
https://ticket.ntj.jac.go.jp/top_e.htm

NNT Drama Studio Reading Performance “Himeyuri”
*English subtitles service is available for the performances on 12&13 Aug.

Prefecture
Tokyo
Venue
New National Theatre,Tokyo
Date
August 11 (Thu)–14 (Sun)
Link
https://www.nntt.jac.go.jp/english/news/training/nnt-drama-studio-reading-performance-himeyuri-okinawa.html

Yoichi Ochiai & Japan Philharmonic Orchestra Project VOL.6 “Sound of Omnipresence”

Prefecture
Tokyo
Venue
Suntory Hall
Date
August 25 (Thu)
Link
https://japanphil.or.jp/en/concert/25153

Outdoor Opera Performance -Jikukan Emaki- “Pagliacci”

Prefecture
Yamanashi
Venue
Gekkōji Temple
Date
August 20 (Sat)
Link
http://jikukanemaki.com/

THE HEROES—Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords x Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Prefecture
Shizuoka
Venue
Shizuoka City Museum of Art
Date
July 2 (Sat)–August 28 (Sun)
Link
https://shizubi.jp/exhibition/20220702_theheroes/220702_01_eng.php

ECHO TOMORROW FIELD—Food and Art

Prefecture
Kyoto
Hyogo
Venue
Takano Shrine (Kyoto)
Taiza Studio (Kyoto)
Kinosaki Onsen Mikiya (Hyogo)
Date
July 22 (Fri)–August 21 (Sun)
Link
https://www.tomorrowfield.org/en/echo

Independent Study for Kids & Adults: 〇△☐✕ for Crafting Crafts

Prefecture
Ishikawa
Venue
National Crafts Museum
Date
July 5 (Tue)–September 4 (Sun)
Link
https://www.momat.go.jp/english/cg/exhibition/independent-study-for-kids-and-adults/

Beauty of Ryukyu
—Passing On and Promoting Traditional Performing Arts of Okinawa

Prefecture
Okinawa
Venue
National Theatre Okinawa
Date
Promotional Performance
Kumiodori Appreciation Class for Parents and Children “Manzai Tekiuchi”
August 6 (Sat)–7(Sun)

Promotional Performance
Tones of Okinawa
Various Okinawa Musical Instruments
August 20 (Sat)
Link
https://www.nt-okinawa.or.jp/english