Making arts and culture more accessible — regardless of people’s backgrounds and preferences.
This is the goal that Arts Council Tokyo, Japan’s first publicly funded full-fledged cultural organization, has vigorously strived for since its launch in 2012. To the ambitious organization, this includes developing future artists and institutions that vow to elevate Tokyo as a truly international city of creativity, equipping the capital with cultural events that will attract more spectators — but also keep the Tokyo entertainment scene alive and culturally-infused. This ambition, however, is even more significant now when Tokyo is less than three years away from hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which, as we all know, are as much about the arts and culture as they are about sport.
But according to a recent survey conducted by the Council this August on 1,100 Tokyo residents (aged 18-69), although over 80% of the respondents said they are “interested” in arts and culture, only a little over 20% said they are in fact consuming it — that is, had actually seen some form of art in the past one year. Commonly stated reasons included cost and time issues, with many voices also calling for no registration and cost-free events happening around the Tokyo streets.
In reflection to the survey results, as part of their Cultural Program aimed at organizing outdoor cultural events and promoting Tokyo’s art scene ahead of the Olympic Games, the Council is currently promoting five exciting events that match people’s needs expressed in the survey. Those events are both registration and cost-free, as well as easily accessible to the public — so mark your calendars!
1. Roppongi Art Night 2017
This one-night limited event brings together artistic individuals, installations and art in all shapes and kinds. Hugely popular last year, the event attracted nearly 700,000 visitors (total number of visitors to all programs), but this year it is returning stronger and artistically more solid with the presence of renowned Japanese photographer and film director Mika Ninagawa. Themed “Mirai no Matsuri” (festivals of the future), the event aims to propose a lifestyle that celebrates the enjoyment of art in everyday lives and create a pioneering model for urban development in the Tokyo metropolis.
When: Sat, September 30-Sun, October 1, 2017
Where: Roppongi area
2. Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony 2017
Held at one of Tokyo's most famous open-air museums and gardens (which are works of art in themselves), this event introduces the profound culture of tea ceremony. Under the guidance of instructors from several popular tea schools in Japan, participants will be able to learn in depth about Japan’s tea culture and the Edo-Tokyo culture that nurtured it. In addition to a demonstration of a conventional indoor tea ceremony, on the agenda is also an outdoor tea ceremony, beginners workshops, and of course, a lot of green tea savoring.
When: Sat, October 7-Sun, October 8, 2017
Where: Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (Tokyo Metropolitan Koganei Park, 3-7-1, Sakura-cho, Koganei-shi, Tokyo)
When: Sat, October 21-Sun, October 22, 2017
Where: Hama-rikyu Gardens (1-1, Hamarikyu-teien, Chuo-ku, Tokyo)
3. MOT Satellite 2017 Fall-Connecting Scapes
Held in cooperation with local communities, cafes and other venues, this event brings the best of art in the form of installations, performances, talk events, workshops, and exhibitions in Kiyosumi-shirakawa, the home of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) (currently closed for renovation). MOT is additionally holding an exhibition and other programs in Ueno.
When: Sat, October 7-Sun, November 12, 2017
Where: Various locations in Kiyosumi-shirakawa, Arts & Science LAB. in Tokyo University of the Arts Ueno Campus
4. Ensembles Tokyo
This unique audience participatory music festival is open to anyone who wishes to join in and demonstrate their creative tunes. Under the direction of renowned Japanese musician Yoshihide Otomo, and presented in association with Project Fukushima! (a team that will be putting together a giant furoshiki — wrapping cloth — installation to decorate the venue), the event aims at allowing participants to create their own unique musical arena and style. Certainly one-of-a-kind, the event crosses all existing borders and manages to unite everyone under one theme: good music. This year’s special guests include popular singers UA and Miu Sakamoto who will be performing together with the workshop participants in a live performance.
When: Sun, October 15, 2017
Where: Tokyo Tower
5. Kagurazaka Street Stage O-edo Tour 2017 (Japanese Traditional Culture Festival)
Visitors to the Kagurazaka district, famous for its perfect blend of tradition and modernity, will see the area turn into a live art scene for two days in November at the backdrop of various traditional performing arts programs. On the agenda are traditional Japanese parlor games (ozashiki-asobi) played with geishas, shamisen performances, live street concerts, a stamp rally, and various other performances. This is a great event that manages to showcase the many vibrant facets of the Japanese culture in this unique neighborhood.
When: Sat, November 11-Sun, November 12, 2017
Where: Kagurazaka area (Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji Temple, Akagi-jinja Shrine, Kagurazaka-dori street, and other Kagurazaka alleys)
So if you’re looking for something exciting and culturally-engaging this fall, mark your calendars and join these easily accessible, outdoor — and mostly cost-free — events. No doubt you’ll witness Tokyo gradually starting to live up to the cultural legacy Arts Council Tokyo is building toward 2020 and beyond.
For more information on Arts Council Tokyo and upcoming events, see the organization's official website here.© Japan Today