Revelation of Fraudulent Judging in Calligraphy Section at the Nitten

On October 30, the Calligraphy section at the Nitten, which invites the public to send in entries for a Nitten exhibition, had been rigged to allocate the winners to the leading groups, according to a source close to the matter. In 2009, the head of the jury allegedly showed a jury member in charge of the seal-cutting division an allocation list where the specific number of entries and winners from the leading groups were written and instructed the jury member to decide the number of winners according to the instruction. It resulted in the organizer of the Nitten to cancel their selection of the Prime Minister’s Prize and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize, the two highest prizes for the 45th Nitten exhibition, which began on November 1. The Agency for Cultural Affairs withdrew its support, and FURUTANI Sōin, a leading figure in the calligraphy world and a Nitten advisor, resigned from his role. On November 7, an investigation committee was launched and submitted its report on December 5, confirming the facts of the fraud. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Hi-Red Center: The Track of “Direct Action”’ Opened

On November 9, the exhibition titled ‘Hi-Red Center: The Track of “Direct Action”’ opened at the Nagoya City Art Museum (until December 23). It featured the works of TAKAMATSU Jirō, AKASEGAWA Genpei and NAKANISHI Natsuyuki, who, during the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s, went far beyond the conventional framework of art to shake up everyday life, displaying mainly documentary materials and photographs of the time. It travelled to the Shoto Museum of Art (February 11 – March 23, 2014). (Japanese)

Report on Places of Scenic Beauty and Historic Sites Designation Submitted

On November 15, 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 SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes two places such as scenic spots on the ‘Oku no hosomichi’, the route travelled by the haiku master MATSUO Bashō through Mutsu and Hokuriku regions, to be designated as Places of Scenic Beauty; nine places such as Miyawaki temple ruins (Date City, Fukushima Prefecture), where the connection between the Muromachi shogunate and the Date clan is indicated, to be designated as Historic Sites; four places such as the Former Nanbu Family Villa Gardens (Morioka City) to be registered as Registered Monuments; and five places such as the Miyazu Amanohashidate Cultural Landscape (Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture) to be selected as Important Cultural Landscapes. (Japanese)

Report on New Registrations for Registered Tangible Cultural Properties Submitted

On November 15, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on 220 buildings to be registered as Registered Tangible Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (Mitaka City, Tokyo), which is an outstanding modern building from the Taishō and early Shōwa periods. (Japanese)

The 25th 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 25th Ringa Art Encouragement Prize. In the Art History Research Division, three people shared the award; KUWAHARA Noriko (Associate Professor, Seitoku University) for her monograph titled ‘Onchi Kōshirō kenkyū: hanga no modanizumu’ (Serika shobō); and TERAGUCHI Junji (Deputy Director, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art) and INOUE Yoshiko (Curator, Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama) for their curated exhibition titled ‘Tanaka Kyoichi: a Retrospective’ and the contribution of their essays to its exhibition catalog. No winners in the Art Criticism Division were announced. (Japanese)

The Japan Media Arts Festival Awards Announced

On December 5, the Agency for Cultural Affairs announced the winning works for the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards that are given to excellent media artworks from inside and outside of Japan. The Grand Prizes were given to a media installation titled ‘crt mgn’ by Carsten Nicolai (Germany) in the Art Division; ‘Sound of Honda / Ayrton Senna 1989’ by SUGANO Kaoru, YASUMOCHI Sōtarō, ŌRAI Yū, Nadya Kirillova, YONEZAWA Kyōko, SEKINE Kōsai, SAWAI Taeji and MANABE Daito (Japan / Russia) in the Entertainment Division; an animated memoir film titled ‘Approved For Adoption’ by Jung / Laurent Boileau (Belgium / France) in the Animation Division; and a manga titled ‘JOJOLION – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 8 –’ by ARAKI Hirohiko in the Manga Division. (Japanese)

VOCA Prize Winners Announced

On December 16, 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 TANAKA Nozomi, who created ‘Mono okuri’. OHKOJIMA Maki and KIM Mitsuo jointly received the VOCA Encouragement Prize. ŌSAKA Chika and SOMEYA Yūko jointly received the VOCA Honorable Mention Award. The Ohara Museum of Art Prize was given to SATŌ Kana. The VOCA exhibition 2014, where the winners’ works were exhibited, was held at the Uemo Royal Museum in Tokyo from March 15 to March 30 in 2014. (Japanese)

Report on Registered Tangible Cultural Properties Designation Submitted

On July 19, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on 173 structures to be designated as Registered Tangible Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the main building of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Meguro Ward, Tokyo), which became a symbol of reconstruction after the Great Kantō Earthquake, and the main building of the Wakayama Prefectural Government Office with its Western-style design. (Japanese)

The 25th Praemium Imperiale Laureates Announced

On September 17, the laureates of the 25th Praemium Imperiale in Honor of Prince Takamatsu (organized by the Japan Art Association), which publicly honors individual world artists, were announced. In relation to art, the laureates are Michelangelo Pistoletto (Italy) in the Painting category, Antony Gormley (United Kingdom) in the Sculpture category and David Chipperfield (United Kingdom) in the Architecture category. (Japanese)

Akita Museum of Art Opened

On September 28, the Akita Museum of Art opened in Area Nakaichi, a redevelopment area in the center of Akita City. It was relocated from the former Akita Prefectural Museum of Art (opened in 1967), which housed the collection of HIRANO Masakichi, a wealthy Akita collector, located in Chiaki Park in the city. The new building, designed by ANDŌ Tadao, has three floors above ground and one below ground, with a total floor space of 3,746.66m2. Although it had been open provisionally since 2012, it was officially opened after the relocation of the mural painting, titled ‘Events in Akita (Akita no gyōji)’ by FOUJITA Tsuguharu. The exhibition, titled ‘Hekiga “Akita no gyōji” kara no messēji – Fujita Tsuguharu no 1930 nendai’ (September 28 – November 10), was held to celebrate its opening. (Japanese)

Okada Museum of Art Opened

On October 4, the Okada Museum of Art (Director: KOBAYASHI Tadashi) opened in Kowakudani, Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, presenting a wide range of Japanese and East Asian art from ancient to modern times. The museum houses about 700 works of art collected by OKADA Kazuo, a businessman who developed his business in the manufacture of amusement machines. With five basement floors that create an exhibition area of 5,000 m2, it is the largest private museum of its kind in Japan. The exhibition, titled ‘Heritage of Beauty: Japanese, Chinese and Korean Art’ (October 4 – December 30), was held to celebrate its opening. (Japanese)

The 25th Annual Kokka Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the 25th Kokka Prize, an award for remarkable research on Japanese and East Asian art, were announced. The Kokka Prize was given to an article titled ‘Kusha mandara to tenpyō fukko’ (in ‘Bukkyō bijutsu ronbunshū I: Yōshiki hen’, Chikurinsha, 2012) by TANIGUCHI Kōsei (Nara National Museum). The Kokka Special Prize was given to a monograph titled ‘Chūgoku sekkutsu bijutsu no kenkyū’ (Chūō kōron bijutsu shuppan, 2012) by HAMADA Tamami (Waseda University). (Japanese)

Report on Important Cultural Properties (structures) Designation Submitted

On October 18, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on six buildings to be designated as Important Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the Nasu Shrine (Ōtawara City, Tochigi Prefecture), whose structure combines medieval forms with early modern decorative design, and the former Kōyaguchi school building, which is considered to be the culmination of pre-war wooden school buildings. In addition to the list, two districts, one of which was the Masuda district in Yokote City, Akita Prefeture, where one of few merchant houses that were purposely built to cope with heavy snowfall in the Tōhoku region remains, were also suggested to be the Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. (Japanese)

Order of Culture and Person of Cultural Merit Recipients Announced

On October 25, the Japanese government announced five recipients of the Order of Culture and 15 recipients of the Person of Cultural Merit for the fiscal year 2013. In relation to art, calligrapher TAKAGI Seikaku was awarded the Order of Culture, and UEMURA Atsushi, nihonga artist who also protect cultural properties, and architect MAKI Fumihiko were awarded the Person of Cultural Merit. (Japanese)

The 26th Denchū Hirakushi Award Winner Announced

On February 26, the Denchū Hirakushi Award (sponsored by Ibara City, Okayama Prefecture), established to commemorate HIRAKUSHI Denchū’s achievements along with the promotion of wood carvings in Japan, announced that the 26th winner was ŌHIRA Minoru. He was awarded for his sculptural forms that represent his broad perspectives and his experienced work to date. (Japanese)

Special Mention to Japan for Japan Pavilion at la Biennale di Venezia

On June 1, the opening ceremony and awards ceremony of la Biennale di Venezia, the world’s largest biennial international contemporary art exhibition, were held in Venice, Italy, with the Japan Pavilion receiving a Special Mention in a category of the national participations where 88 nations participated. The Japan Pavilion, curated by KURAYA Mika, Chief Curator of the Department of Fine Arts at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, presented TANAKA Kōki’s solo exhibition titled ‘abstract speaking-sharing uncertainty and collective acts’, which mainly consisted of video works inspired by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. (Japanese)

Report on National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties Designation Submitted

On Februay 27, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on three assets to be designated as National Treasures and 50 assets to be Important Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The three assets to be designated as National Treasures are Standing Fudō Myōō with Two Attendants, wooden sculptures made by Unkei, a sculptor of Buddhist statues in the Kamakura period (Ganjōjuin temple, Shizuoka Prefecture); Monju Bosatsu and Four Attendants by Kaikei (Monjuin temple, Nara Prefecture); and ‘Collection of Documents and Buddhist Sutras at Daigoji Temple’, historical records dating from the Heian to Meiji periods (Daigoij temple, Kyoto Prefecture). The list for Important Cultural Properties includes ‘Pine Trees of the Four Seasons’ by Edo-period painter KANŌ Tanyū (Daitokuji temple, Kyoto Prefecture). (Japanese)

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Won a bid for Export Lacquer Chest

On June 9, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, bid successfully on a Japanese chest for 7.3 million euros (approximately 950 million yen) at an auction. This lacquer chest, made in Japan in the early Edo period, was originally purchased by French cardinal Jules Mazarin in 1658 and was found in a private house in France. One of the four Japanese chests owned by the Mazarin family, this is one of the finest pieces of Japanese export lacquerware, made entirely of black-lacquered wood lavishly decorated with gold maki-e and raden (shell inlay) decoration. It came into the possession of Sir Trevor Lawrence, a British collector of Japanese art, in 1882, but went missing since 1941. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Raffaello’ Opened

On March 2, the exhibition titled ‘Raffaello’ opened at the National Museum of Western Art (until June 2). This is Raphael Sanzio’s first ever exhibition in Japan, one of the representative painters of the Italian Renaissance, which displayed 23 pieces of Raphael’s works along with his masters and followers, including ‘Madonna del Graduca’ (Palatine Gallery, Florence). In addition to this exhibition, ‘Leonard da Vinci: Biblioteca Pinacoteca Ambrosiana’ exhibition (held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum from April 23 to June 30) and ‘Michelangelo Buonarroti: The Making of a Genius and the 500th Anniversary of the Sistine Chapel’ exhibition (held at the Fukui Fine Art Museum from June 28 to August 25 and the National Museum of Western Art from September 6 to November 17), were held as part of ‘Italia in Giappone 2013’. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Lacas Namban: Huellas de Japón en España’ Opened

On June 13, the exhibition ‘Lacas Namban: Huellas de Japón en España’ opened at Museo Nacional de Artes decorativas, Madrid (until September 29). The exhibition was part of a series of events commemorating the 400th anniversary of Spanish-Japanese relations as well as marking the 400th anniversary of the departure of the Keichō mission to Spain, led by HASEKURA Tsunenaga. The exhibition brought together a collection of lacquerware from the Nanban chest in the collection of Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, as well as other pieces from around Spain. (Japanese)

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