The Japan Cultural Expo is a nationwide celebration of Japanese arts and culture, designed to appeal to a broad domestic and international audience through a diverse program of content, including exhibitions, performing arts productions, and arts festivals.
This selection of Japan Cultural Expo programs will allow you to enjoy the latest in Japanese culture as well as the beauty of Japanese tradition.
Kōgei Dining 2022
The kōgei art of Japan has fashioned a world of works brimming with creativity that use a variety of materials, artistic methods, and perceptions in their portrayal of the natural world. The desire to combine kōgei with the culinary experience brought into being the Kōgei Dining program.
Kazumi Murose, Living National Treasure in urushi art, says “when we create, we always think of those who will take our works into their hands and use them—our genuine wishes for their wellbeing and happiness are imprinted in the crafts; this is what kōgei represents.” Works of kōgei can mediate the delight in beauty between its creator and user. They facilitate a silent communication between the two as the user comes to appreciate the creator’s dedication. Kōgei Dining is designed to bring out the unique aesthetic value of kōgei crafts by allowing participants to experience as opposed to simply observe them.
For this year’s edition events are planned for three different venues: Atami in May 2022, Fukuoka in November 2022, and Hiroshima in May 2023.
- MOA Museum of Art
- May 31, 2022
New National Theatre, Tokyo
The New National Theatre of Tokyo (NNTT) stages opera, dance and drama productions targeted at young audiences and overseas visitors, with the aim of conveying the unique appeal of Japanese culture and passing it on to future generations.
This year's lineup includes Moriyama Kaiji NINJA and Educational Programme for High School Students "Madama Butterfly."
Moriyama Kaiji NINJA
The second in a series of dance works by Kaiji Moriyama, NINJA is aimed at audiences of all ages. First performed in 2019 in the Pit of NNTT, the piece has received high acclaim in theatres throughout Japan and returns this year as NNTT's Playhouse version.
The dancers use their individuality and amazing physical prowess to transform themselves into ninjas moving to the catchy theme song "Stealthy, Stealthy, Stealthy", or into insects stealthily lurking in Japan's natural environment, creating a world of fun and wonder that is sure to captivate the hearts of children as well as adults who are children at heart.
- Playhouse - New National Theatre, Tokyo (other venues to be announced)
- June 25, 2022 14:00
June 26, 2022 13:00 / 17:30
Educational Programme for High School Students "Madama Butterfly"
Started in 1998, the year after the opening of NNTT, the Educational Programme for High School Students marks its 24th anniversary in 2022.
This year's edition will feature the opera Madama Butterfly, which has been most frequently performed as part of the Educational Programme.
Set in Nagasaki, the opera tells the tragic story of Cio-Cio-san, a young Japanese girl who falls in love with the American Navy Lieutenant Pinkerton. This work resonates deeply with high school students experiencing opera for the first time. Director Tamiya Kuriyama depicts the world of Cio-Cio-san and her doomed love in a simple yet large-scale stage performance. With its vivid portrayals of the characters' inner lives, this much-acclaimed production is sure to stir the imagination of the students and inspire interest in opera.
- Opera Palace - New National Theatre, Tokyo
- July 8 - 16, 2022
National Theatre, Tokyo
The National Theatre offers a varied programme of performances revolving around the Japan Cultural Expo’s theme of “Humanity and Nature in Japan.” Symbols indicating different periods and landscapes have always been an essential element of Japan's performing arts.
Kachofugetsu (a word used to refer to the beauty of nature) is the key theme for this year's lineup, which showcases the best of each genre from the National Theatre's historical repertoire.
May 2022 Gagaku Performance - Bugaku
Bugaku came into its own in the Heian Period – when court culture was at its height – when it was created by adapting performing arts from the Asian Continent for Japanese sensibilities.
Since then, it has been performed for more than 1,000 years in Japan, mainly within the Imperial Court. Held by the Music Department of the Board of Ceremonies of the Imperial Household Agency, the representative successor and designated Important Intangible Cultural Asset holder for Gagaku, this performance features a rich array of dance pieces that is sure to enchant any audience.
- Large Theatre - National Theatre, Tokyo
- May 28, 2022 14:00
June 2022 Japanese Folk Performance - Hanamatsuri
The Hanamatsuri is a form of kagura (sacred Shinto music and dancing) that has been handed down unbroken through the years in the Okumikawa region in eastern Aichi Prefecture. It is performed in winter, around the time when the sun is at its lowest ebb, to invite the myriads of Shinto deities and revive the power of the sun, praying for people’s good health and a bumper crop.
This performance is designed to recreate as closely as possible the atmosphere of the original event, allowing the audience to enjoy the festival, which usually takes place throughout the night, in its almost complete form.
After being cancelled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hanamatsuri will finally appear on the stage of the National Theatre. All the more reason not to miss it!
photo: Mitsuhiro Omura/Kiyotaka Sugiura
- Small Theatre - National Theatre, Tokyo
- June 11, 2022 11:00 / 14:00
June 2022 Traditional Japanese Music Performance - The History of Japanese Music Ⅴ: Percussion
The History of Japanese Music series introduces the beauty of the musical heritage of Japan, with a focus on traditional Japanese instruments and how they have changed through the centuries.
This time the spotlight is on percussion, presented through renditions of Gagaku, Nohgaku, Nagauta, creative drum works and contemporary music. A lecture-demonstration session featuring Japanese and Asian percussion instruments is also included in the programme.
Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy the fascinating rhythms of tsuzumi (hand drum) and taiko (drum) in a performance ranging across different genres.
- Small Theatre - National Theatre, Tokyo
- June 18, 2022 12:00
National Bunraku Theatre, Osaka
Held at the National Bunraku Theatre of Osaka, this program offers Bunraku newcomers the opportunity to discover traditional Japanese puppet theater through easy-to-understand guidance and performances of classic plays.
June 2022 Bunraku Performance for Beginners / Discover BUNRAKU
The weekday performances are designed for school groups, while a special version targeted at adults and the English-friendly “Discover BUNRAKU” are scheduled for Sunday, June 15 at 11:00 and 14:30, respectively.
Bunraku is performed by a narrator (tayu), a shamisen player, and puppeteers. During the guidance session, led by the artists themselves, visitors will learn how these three elements are woven together and enjoy a deeper insight into this fascinating art form.
The Discover BUNRAKU event will feature The ABC of Bunraku, an introduction to bunraku with simultaneous commentary in Japanese and English, and English subtitles displayed during the performance.
Those who know both languages may enjoy comparing the two commentaries!
- National Bunraku Theatre, Osaka
- June 2 - 16, 2022
Bunraku Performance for Beginners (targeted at adults) June 5, 2022 11:00
Discover BUNRAKU June 5, 2022 14:30