Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (Heisei 24) for Agency for Cultural Affairs Determined

On April 5, the government budged for the fiscal year 2012 (Heisei 24) was passed. The budget for the Agency for Cultural Affairs was ¥107.447 billion (including ¥1.8 billion for Reconstruction Grant Project on the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster), 4.2% or ¥4.32 billion more than the previous year. The budget is divided into three principal projects as follows: 1. creation and utilization of rich culture and arts and cultivation of human resources; 2. preservation, utilization and succession of Japan’s precious cultural properties; and 3. dissemination of Japan’s outstanding culture and arts / promotion of international cultural exchange. In particular, as Special Account for Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, ¥3.739 billion was appropriated for ‘Restoration of affected cultural properties’ and ¥507 million for ‘Restoration of affected museums’ in Project 2. In Project 3, ¥150 million was earmarked for ‘Collection and Preservation of Modern and Contemporary Architectural Materials’. (Japanese)

The 68th Japan Art Academy Prize Recipients Announced

On March 16, the Japan Art Academy (Director: MIURA Shumon) announced the recipients of the 68th Japan Art Academy Prize. In the Fine Arts category, IKEGUCHI Chikako (for her yōga painting titled ‘Fukamaru aki’, exhibited at a Ryūkikai exhibition) received the Imperial Prize and the Japan Art Academy Prize. In the same category, YOSHINO Takeshi (for his sculpture titled ‘Natsu no owari ’11’, exhibited at a Nikakai exhibition), MIYATA Ryōhei (for his kōgei artwork titled ‘Springen “Shō”’, exhibited at a Nitten exhibition) and HOSHI Kōdō (for his calligraphy titled ‘Rikishi Chōkyoku ni okuru’, exhibited at a Nitten exhibition) received the Japan Art Academy Prize. (Japanese)

The 37th Kimura Ihei Award Winner Announced

On February 18, the winner of the 37th Kimura Ihei Award (sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun Publications), the award given to exceptional new photographers in honor to photographer KIMURA Ihei’s achievements, was announced. The award was given to TATSUKI Masaru for his photobook ‘Tōhoku’ (Little More), in recognition of his sincere attitude towards the activities of the Tōhoku people, which are rooted in the climate of the region. (Japanese)

Report on Registered Tangible Cultural Properties Designation Submitted

On September 21, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on 155 structures to be designated as Registered Tangible Cultural Properties to HIRANO Hirofumi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the old school building of the Toyosato elementary school in Toyosato-chō, Shiga Prefecture, designed by American architect William Merrell Vories and built in 1937; DeForest Memorial House, a former missionary residence in Sendai City; Shirakawa Bridge in Shirakawa-chō, Gifu Prefecture, a surviving suspension bridge built in the Taishō period; Ryokan Yoshino, a long-established Hitoyoshi hot spring inn in Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto Prefecture. (Japanese)

Report on Living National Treasures Designation Submitted

On July 20, the Council for Cultural submitted a report on four people to be designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties (Living National Treasures) to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes HAISOTO Tatsuya, who is highly skilled in the woodworking technique of bending thin sheets of wood into a circular shape, and FUJINUMA Noboru, bamboo craftsman who creates elegant yet original works applying a variety of techniques. (Japanese)

The 7th Western Art Foundation Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the 7th Western Art Foundation Prize, which publicly honor individuals and institutions involved in curating exhibitions that have contributed to the understanding of Western art and academic research in the field of Western art, were announced. The Academic Prizes for individuals were awarded to ŌSHIMA Tetsuya, Curator at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (for the exhibition ‘Jackson Pollock: A Centennial Retrospective’ held at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) and NIIMI Ryū, Professor at Musashino Art University (for the exhibition ‘Wiener Werkstatte 1903-1932, Multiplicative Decoration’ held at the Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art). The Cultural Promotion Prize for institutions was given to DIC (formerly Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Inc.), which runs the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Masterpieces from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis’ Opened

On June 30, the exhibition ‘Masterpieces from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis’ opened at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (until September 17). The exhibition introduced the museum’s collection of seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings while the museum had been closed for a long period of time from April for major renovation work. Vermeer’s ‘Girls with a Pearl Earring’, one of the stars in the collection, was being shown for the first time since it was exhibited at the Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts in 2000. The exhibition travelled to the Kobe City Museum (September 29 – January 6, 2013). (Japanese)

Order of Culture and Person of Cultural Merit Recipients Announced

On October 30, the Japanese government announced six recipients of the Order of Culture and 15 recipients of the Person of Cultural Merit for the fiscal year 2012. In relation to art, art critic TAKASHINA Shūji and nihonga artist MATSUO Toshio were awarded the Order of Culture, and artist as well as author of children’s books ANNO Mitsumasa, nihonga artist NAKAJI Yūjin, and animation film director MIYAZAKI Hayao were awarded the Person of Cultural Merit. (Japanese)

The Marunouchi Station Building of Tokyo Station Restored

On October 1, the Marunouchi Station Building of Tokyo Station (Important Cultural Property) in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, designed by TATSUNO Kingo and KASAI Manji, which had been restored to its original form of the time when it was completed in 1914, was fully opened. Most parts of the station building were destroyed and burnt down in an air raid in 1945 (Shōwa 20). More than 60 years had passed since the original appearance, with wooden octagonal shaped roofs replacing the domed roofs that were lost during reconstruction work. Restoration work began in 2007 (Heisei 19). The exterior walls as well as the interior and exterior design of the north and south domes were recreated, and the first and second basement floors were newly extended where seismic isolation devices were installed. (Japanese)

The ‘Society for a Design Museum Japan’ Founded

The ‘Society for a Design Museum Japan’ was established by fashion designer MIYAKE Issey and, art historian and director of the National Museum of Western Art, AOYAGI Masanori, with the aim of disseminating the importance of design in Japan as well as enhancing opportunities for construction of a national design museum. On November 27, the first public symposium, titled ‘Kokuritsu dezain bijutsukan o tukurō! (Let’s build a national design museum!)’ was held at Tokyo Midtown Hall. (Japanese)

Report on Important Cultural Properties (structures) Designation Submitted

On October 19, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on six buildings to be designated as Important Cultural Properties to TANAKA Makiko, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the former Sado Mining sites (Sado City, Niigata Prefecture), which was developed in the early Shōwa period. In addition to the list, four districts, one of which was the Kanaya-machi district in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture, where townhouses built between the Edo and the early Shōwa periods remain, were also suggested to be the Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. (Japanese)

Golden Lion to Japan for Japan Pavilion at Biennale Architettura

On August 29, the awards ceremony of the 13th Biennale Architettura was held in Venice, Italy. In the National Participations category, the Japan Pavilion’s exhibition ‘Architecture, Possible here? Home-for-All’, which focused on the role of architecture in the recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, won the Golden Lion, the highest award. The exhibition introduced the design process of the project ‘Home-for-All’, which was a meeting place that was being constructed by architect ITO Toyo and his team in the affected area of Rikuzentakata, Iwata Prefecture. (Japanese)

Renovation of the Phoenix Hall of Byōdōin Temple

On September 3, renovation work began on the Phoenix Hall (National Treasure) of Byōdōin temple in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, for the first time in 56 years. The renovation had been scheduled to be completed by 2014. The roof tiles would be completely replaced; the walls and pillars except for the interior would be repainted red; and the phoenixes (replicas) on the roof and the hōju (sacred jewel) would be gold-plated. (Japanese)

Cultural Properties Rescue Program Began in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone

On August 1, rescue operations for cultural properties that had been left behind in the exclusion zone after the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant began. The operation was carried out by the Fukushima Prefecture Headquarters for Salvaging Cultural Properties, which was set up in May 2012, with support from the Committee for Salvaging Cultural Properties Affected by the 2021 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast to Tohoku and Related Disasters (Cultural Properties Rescue Program). Packing was done in August and removal from the Exclusion Zone and storage were conducted from September to November. (Japanese)

Report on Places of Scenic Beauty and Historic Sites Designation Submitted

On November 16, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on the following places to be designated as Places of Scenic Beauty or Historic Sites to TANAKA Makiko, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes eight places such as Dōjōji temple precincts (Hidakawa-chō and Gobō City, Wakayama Prefecture), which is the setting of the legend of Anchin and Kiyohime, to be designated as Historic Sites; three places such as the Former Sekiyama Hōzō-in temple Gardens (Myōkō City, Niigata Prefecture), to be designated as Places of Scenic Beauty; three places such as Hyōtanjima (Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, and Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture) to be registered as Registered Monuments; and the Circulation and Traffic Mogami River and scenery of Aterazawa town to be selected as an Important Cultural Landscape. (Japanese)

The 24th Ringa Art Encouragement Prize Winners Announced

The Ringa Art Encouragement Prize (organized by the Ringa Art Encouragement Fund), which publicly honors outstanding individuals for their exceptional achievements in the field of art criticism and art history research, announced the winners of the 24th Ringa Art Encouragement Prize. In the Art History Research Division, KURAYA Mika (Chief Curator, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) was awarded for her curated exhibition ‘Undressing Paintings: Japanese Nudes 1880-1945’ and the contribution of her essays to its exhibition catalogue. In the Art Criticism Division, NARIAI Hajime (Curator, Tokyo Station Gallery) for his curated exhibition ‘The World of Ishiko Junzō: From Art via Manga to Kitsch’ that held in 2011 at the Fuchu Art Museum where he previously worked and the contribution of his essays to its exhibition catalogue. (Japanese)

New Members of the Japan Art Academy Selected

On November 30, the Japan Art Academy (Director: MIURA Shumon) announced that eight new members had been selected to join their ranks for their distinguished artistic achievements. In relation to art, nihonga artist YAMAZAKI Takao, yōga artist IKEGUCHI Chikako, sculptor KANBE Mineo and calligrapher ISHIGE Keidō were selected. It was officially announced by TANAKA Makiko, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on December 15. (Japanese)

VOCA Prize Winners Announced

On December 10, the winners of the VOCA Prize, which encourages young artists who create two-dimensional artworks, were announced. The Grand Prize of the VOCA was given to SUZUKI Sayaka, who created ‘Ano hi no nemuri wa tashika ni netsu o obiteita’. SHIBATA Mai and HIRAKO Yūichi jointly received the VOCA Encouragement Prize. Ōsaki Nobuyuki and YOSHIDA Shinnosuke jointly received the VOCA Honorable Mention Award. The Ohara Museum of Art Prize was given to SATŌ Midori. The VOCA exhibition 2013, where the winners’ works were exhibited, was held at the Uemo Royal Museum in Tokyo from March 15 to March 30 in 2013. (Japanese)

Report on Places of Scenic Beauty and Historic Sites Designation Submitted

On June 15, the Council for Cultural Affairs submitted a report on seven places to be designated as Historic Sites and four places to be selected as Important Cultural Landscapes to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes Ōura Church Precinct (Nagasaki City) and former residence of TAJIMA Yahei (Isesaki City, Gunma Prefecture) to be designated as Historic Sites; and steam and hot spring landscape in Beppu (Beppu City, Ōita Prefecture) be selected as Important Cultural Landscapes. (Japanese)

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