From noh masks, traditional fox masks and devil masks to contemporary mask creations like realistic animal masks and kigurumi masks, not to mention masked idols, we've reported on many kinds of Japanese masks at grape Japan.
But truth be told, we've only begun to scratch the surface of Japan's rich mask culture. If you're looking for more, there's one place where you can be guaranteed to get a deep dive into Japanese masks, and it's coming up next month.
On March 21 (Sat), Japan's largest mask exhibition and fair, the 8th Tokyo Mask Festival will be held at the Tokyo Art Center.
Artists who create masks and headgear will assemble from all over Japan to exhibit and sell their handiwork. At the 6th event held last March, 33 exhibitors were hosted at the festival and nearly 700 visitors attended, making it the biggest turnout in the festival's history. After that, the system was changed to a lottery.
What you'll find at the festival
This time, about 40 creators have applied and 25 have been selected by lottery to exhibit.
You'll find masks, kamen, headgear, hoods, kigurumi, helmets, wearable art objects, deformed heads, avatars, armored heads, protectors, goggles, and all manner of things that can be worn over the face. It is truly a festival for mask lovers and by mask lovers. Many artists will sell their original creations. Visitors who attend can pick up masks, try them on (ask permission first) and interact with artists and other attendees through the masks. Many visitors also come with their own masks, and you are free to do so as well.
Japan's Mask Culture and the Tokyo Mask Festival
Japan is world-famous for its mask culture. To begin with, Japanese television and film is filled with heroes who transform themselves with masks. Every day, the masquerade known as cosplay is held somewhere in Japan, and in our daily lives, everyone on the net is used to wearing many masks. The attraction of Japanese masks lies in their ability to take on all of these genres.
In recent years, Japanese masks have begun to attract international attention. Idols (like Kamen Joshi or Babymetal) wear masks and go on tours outside of Japan, and a growing number of mask artists are active overseas. It's clear that masks will become a major aspect representing Japanese culture in the years to come.
The Tokyo Mask Festival aims to become a hub where Japanese mask culture is cultivated and transmitted.
Whether you're into traditional Japanese masks or contemporary creations, the Tokyo Mask Festival is sure to provide you with an exciting and memorable cultural experience.
To see the complete list of exhibitors with links to their social media accounts, please visit the Tokyo Mask Festival's exhibitors' page here.
Rules and requests
Be sure to obtain the permission of the artist before handling their work.
Be careful not to damage the artwork with your bags or belongings. If you have a lot of luggage, please use the cloakroom service.
Please refrain from sitting or spreading your belongings in the hall.
The Tokyo Mask Festival Executive Committee cannot respond to inquiries about the artists' works. When purchasing, it is recommended that you confirm the artist's contact information.
There is no currency exchange booth at the venue
There are no trash cans at the venue. Please take your trash home.
The cloakroom charges a service fee of 500 yen. If you use the cloakroom service, you can also use the changing room.
You cannot smoke inside the venue. Please use the smoking area.
Please refrain from eating meals at the venue.
The Tokyo Mask Festival cannot take responsibility for loss or theft. Please look after your belongings.
Photography and videography
Camera photography in the venue is limited to still images. Please do not shoot videos. If you need to shoot a video for media coverage, please apply separately.
When taking a picture of anyone at the venue, please ask them for permission to shoot. In addition, if you intend to post the photo on a website or on social media, please inform the person in advance.
If you want to take a picture of the artwork, please ask permission from the exhibitor first.
Please refuse anyone photographing you without your permission. If you have any trouble, please contact a staff member.
Staff will be taking photos for the festival's records. When publishing on their website, etc., Tokyo Mask Festival will consider your privacy as much as possible, but please note that you may appear in the background or in a photo of the whole venue.
Photos and videos may be taken during media coverage. Tokyo Mask Festival asks media to respect the privacy of attendees, but please note in advance that you may appear in the background or in shots of the entire venue.
Etiquette for mask wearers
If you wear a mask, your vision may be limited and you may bump into other visitors or artist's booths. Depending on the time of day, the venue may be very crowded. So as not to hinder traffic and commercial transactions, please remove your mask when traveling through the sales area or bringing a companion not wearing a mask.
Those who wear masks have more difficulty reading facial expressions and body language than those who don't, and sometimes they are prone to take sudden actions which may frighten others. Please be considerate when interacting with non mask-wearers and behave like gentlemen and ladies when wearing masks.
If you see any inappropriate behavior by a mask wearer, please contact the venue staff.
There will be a networking / photography area in the venue. Please cooperate by limiting socializing and networking with other mask wearers to this area.
Other prohibited behavior
Please refrain from unauthorized performances inside the venue or near the building, attending the event in extremely scant clothing, or attending the event in order to pick-up dates or for solicitation purposes.
If other actions that cause trouble to other customers are noticed, the staff will immediately call you out and ask you to leave the venue.
Website: Tokyo Mask Festival
Date: March 21 (Sat)
Time: 12:00 to 17:00 (re-entry allowed)
Admission: 1,000 yen (elementary school age or below free with parent or guardian)
Where: Tokyo Art Center, White Studio
Address: 1-4-1 Senju, Adachi Ward
Access: 5-minute walk from Kitasenju Station; 10-minute walk from Senjuohashi Station.
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