1. Roppongi Art Night, Tokyo
Launched in 2009, Tokyo's Roppongi Art Night has grown into one of the capital's top art events, with nearly 800,000 people joining the most recent spectaculars. It will take place in autumn this year, with art installations, public talks, interactive pieces, video screens and extravagant performances lighting up Tokyo's liveliest district. The largest exhibitions are held across Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown and the National Art Center, but museums, galleries, shopping malls and public gardens all get in on the act, so you won't have to look far to find eye-popping art.
2. Setouchi Triennale
The Setouchi Triennale is one of the largest and most influential art festivals in Japan. Celebrating Japanese contemporary art, it takes over 12 rural islands in the Seto Inland Sea, including Naoshima, where you'll find Yayoi Kusama's 'Pumpkin' jutting into the sea (currently not exhibited due to maintenance), and Benesse House Museum, filled with works by some of the greatest names in modern art, including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and David Hockney. The next edition falls in 2022, running in spring (from 14 April to 18May), summer (from 5 August to 4 September) and autumn (from 29 September to 6 November).
3. Pacific Music Festival, Sapporo
This international educational music festival was founded in Sapporo in 1990 by world-renowned US conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, along with the London Symphony Orchestra. As much a mentoring programme as a music festival, PMF invites promising young musicians from around the globe to learn from some of the biggest names in the business. On the programme is a wide range of classical musical masterpieces. This year, the festival will be held for 18 summery days from July 16 to August 2, primarily at Sapporo’s Concert Hall, Kitara, with a variety of concerts featuring Lahav Shani as Principal Conductor, and Ken-David Masur as Guest Conductor.
4. World Theatre Festival Shizuoka
This festival takes place each spring on the skirts of Mount Fuji. Based on the concept that 'theatre is a window to view the world', the ten-day event covers every kind of performance art imaginable, such as the acclaimed open-air theatre of MIYAGI Satoshi, contemporary European dramas, and artworks centred around the beautiful nature of Shizuoka. The Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre is the organiser and main focus, but fringe events spill out into the surrounding parks and public spaces. Audience participation is usually encouraged so don't be afraid to get involved.
5. Oku-Noto Triennale
Merging art and nature, the Oku-Noto Triennale place in the city of Suzu, an isolated outpost on the narrow Noto Peninsula, in Ishikawa prefecture on the Sea of Japan’s west coast. The festival positions contemporary artworks against a bucolic backdrop of endless blue ocean, rugged coastline, dramatic rock formations, rippling rice terraces and peaked-roof villages. The next edition is scheduled for 2023 but there are a number of galleries, museums and permanent exhibitions that visitors can enjoy year-round.
6. KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival
Held annually in Kyoto city over four weeks (9 April to 8 May 2022), this international photography festival will bring together more than 20 renowned artists, many of whom will work in groups. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the theme this year is: 'Every speck is relevant and meaningful in this whole; connected and existing as "One"', a saying rooted in Japan’s Buddhist teachings. Included in the varied and stellar line-up of exhibitions this year are an Irving Penn retrospective, renowned for his fashion photography and portraits, and a female-focussed exhibition called, 10/10 Celebrating Japanese Women Photographers, including the nature-based works of Tamaki Yoshida and Mayumi Hosokura's abstract monochromes. Look out for additional exhibitions called KG+, held in conjunction with KYOTOGRAPHIE and hosted at various locations around the city.
7. Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2022, Niigata
This contemporary international art extravaganza is held across the lush fields, forests and mountains of Niigata prefecture in eastern Honshu. Sprawling over nearly 18,000 acres, over 350 works by the likes of James Turrell, Katsuhiko Hibino, Christian Boltanski, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Michel Alberola, Marina Abramović, Cai Guo-Qiang and Antony Gormley are presented in forests, on stepped rice paddies, on the banks of the Shinano River and inside former school houses and barns, creating a symbiotic connection between art, people and nature. This year’s edition — Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2022 — will be held from 13 April to 13 November, with many of the artworks remaining in situ throughout the year.
For more information on Japan’s myriad cultural offerings, go to japan.travel/en
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