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Ōmura Satoshi’s Art Museum: A Nobel Winner’s GenerosityNippon.com Staff

Ōmura Satoshi, emeritus professor at Kitasato University, has cemented his reputation as a world-class researcher by becoming a joint winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He is also known as a lover of fine art, though. In 2007 he donated a considerable collection of artworks, along with a new museum to house them, to the city of Nirasaki, Yamanashi Prefecture, where he …

When Japonism Bewitched EuropeWatanabe Hirotaka

Today art from Japan has worldwide cultural impact and is a familiar part of the global artistic scene. Up through the early modern era, though, Japanese art was a bolt from the blue—something entirely new to viewers overseas, who saw it as something fresh and surprisingly sophisticated. This was the dawn of Japonism.

Experimental Music from Japan: Folk Roots, Noise RoutesDavid McMahon

Despite Japan’s lucrative domestic music scene (recent tribulations notwithstanding), few mainstream Japanese artists have achieved significant success outside of Asia. There may have been recent sold-out tours in the West for the likes of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Babymetal, but their songs are not the ones sought by discerning sound-seekers overseas. For many of these aficionados, the buzzword tends…

Five Greats of Japanese Woodblock PrintingNippon.com Staff

The woodblock print, or hanga, has played a centuries-long role in the history of Japanese art. The Edo-period masters, like Hokusai and Hiroshige, produced images that are familiar to people all around the world today, but this is a deep genre with many lesser-known creators of similar skill. Below we present five images by five artists worth looking into in more depth.  Utamaro, Kushi (Comb)…

Architecture and the Blueprint for Gender Equality: Interview with Venice Biennale Commissioner Ōta Kayoko

Ōta Kayoko was appointed the commissioner of the Japanese Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, becoming the first woman to hold that position. In this interview, Ōta discusses how working overseas fostered her own global outlook and offers recommendations for Japan to transform its social outlook.

Mountains, Mummies, and Modern Art: Ascetic Practice in Yamagata PrefectureDavid McMahon

For over a thousand years, Yamagata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan side of the northern Tōhoku region, has drawn pilgrims and mystics to its mountains. As the native Shintō faith intertwined with imported Buddhism, Yamagata became the site for scores of shrines and temples, some of which remain to the present day. The holiest of all the sites in the region are the three sacred mountains of Dew…

Scarecrows Stand Watch over Village on Borrowed TimeHarano Jōji

At first glance, they look much like people, and the village seems to be full of residents going about their daily business. These particular locals are not people, though, but scarecrows. The mannequins outnumber the village’s 40 or so human residents by more than two to one, and on the surface—with their own distinctive personalities—do create a rather cheerful atmosphere. But in the context of …

Kyotographie: An International Photo Festival in Japan’s Ancient Capital

French photographer Lucille Reyboz launched the Kyotographie International Photography Festival in 2013 with Nakanishi Yūsuke as a way of drawing attention to the world of photography. Now in its second year, the festival is helping to raise the profile of photography in Japan and encourage dialogue among photographers around the world.

Modern-day Artisans Carry On the “Ukiyo-e” TraditionBrigitte Koyama-Richard

The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints has reproduced around 1,200 masterpieces by artists such as Hokusai and Utamaro. Brigitte Koyama-Richard, a researcher in Japanese fine arts from France, visited their Tokyo studio to report on how they are using techniques unchanged since the Edo period.

Shinohara Ushio and Noriko: A Couple Wrestles with the Demon Called Art

The Shinoharas, a Japanese couple pursuing art careers in New York since the 1970s, are the subject of Cutie and the Boxer, a documentary nominated for a 2014 Academy Award. We spoke to them about their art and lives during their recent visit to Tokyo.

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