Budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (Heisei 26) for Agency for Cultural Affairs Determined

On March 20, the government budget for the fiscal year 2014 (Heisei 26) was passed. The budget for the Agency for Cultural Affairs became ¥103.592 billion, increasing by 0.24%, which is a ¥250 million increase compared to the previous year. The budget is divided into four 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; 3. Dissemination of Japan’s outstanding culture and arts / promotion of international cultural exchange; and 4. Improvement / enhancement of the foundation for the promotion of culture. Major categories whose budget increased in each project are as follows: in Project 1, ¥584 million for ‘Development of Imagination and Creativity of children and young people through culture and arts’; in Project 2, ¥383 million for ‘Radical strengthening of restoration of cultural properties / enhancement of disaster prevention’; and in Project 3, ¥431 million for ‘Implementation of the promotion / exchange of Japanese culture’. (Japanese)

Report on Registered Tangible Cultural Properties Designation Submitted

On July 18, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on 166 structures to be designated as Registered Tangible Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes the Kobe Port Tower, completed in 1963, which is a sightseeing tower attracting popularity as a symbol of the port city of Kobe. (Japanese)

Selection of New Members of the Japan Art Academy Deferred

On November 26, the Japan Art Academy (Director: KUROI Senji) announced that four new members had been selected to join their ranks for their distinguished artistic achievements. However, no selection was made for the Fine Art category due to the past corrupt jury problems at Nitten. (Japanese)

The 33rd Domon Ken Award Winner Announced

The Domon Ken Award (sponsored by the Mainichi Newspapers Co.), an award for a photographer who has made excellent achievements in the previous year, announced that the 33rd winner was KUWABARA Shisei. The award-winning works were his photographic exhibition, ‘Shiranui kai: The Minamata disease Disaster’ (held at the Nikon Salon), and his photography book, ‘Minamata jiken: The MINAMATA Disaster’ (published by Fujiwara shoten). KUWABARA has frequently visited Minamata City, Kumamoto Prefecture, since 1960s, and painstakingly recorded patients of Minamata disease along with their families, court cases, and activities in fishing communities for half a century, which were highly acclaimed. (Japanese)

National Task Force for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Established

On July 23, the National Institute for Cultural Heritage established the National Task Force for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (CH-DRM Network). Based on experiences such as the Cultural Property Rescue Program at the Great East Japan Earthquake, it builds up a network concerned with disaster prevention of cultural properties, fosters human resources and collects and analyzes information in order to secure the rescue and relief system for the cultural properties in large-scale disasters. The First Executive Committee of the National Task Force for CH-DRM Network was planned to be held at the Tokyo National Museum on October 21 in order to ask the participating organizations to establish networks and to share common understanding of its future activities. (Japanese)

The Japan Media Arts Festival Awards Announced

On November 28, the Agency for Cultural Affairs announced the winning works for the 18th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards that are given to excellent media artworks from inside and outside of Japan. The Grand Prizes were given to ‘Ingress’ a US mobile gaming application that merge GPS and a global mapping database in the Entertainment Division; ‘The Wound’ a Russian animation that depicts an emotional wound of a little girl in the Animation Division; and KONDŌ Yōko’s ‘Goshiki no fune’ (The Five-Colored Boat) based on TSUHARA Yasumi’s short story in the Manga Division. No Grand Prize was given in the Art Division. (Japanese)

BAN Shigeru Won the Pritzker Architecture Prize

On March 24, the Hyatt Foundation announced that BAN Shigeru had been chosen as a winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, an annual award to honor outstanding architects, which is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture. BAN’s design abounds in originality and ingenuity, which is reflected in his works such as the Centre Pompidou-Metz in north-eastern France. In addition, he has travelled to disaster-stricken areas over the world where he designed and constructed recyclable shelters and houses at low cost with local residents. As such his achievements were highly praised. (Japanese)

Final Reform Proposal for the Nitten Announced

On July 29, the Nitten announced the final reform proposal of its organization, a panel of judges and judgement, and exhibition management after the previous year’s revelation of organizational corruption that led to a number of prizes in the Calligraphy section being distributed to dominant groups in advance. Impartial judgements, such as the introduction of external judges and recording the whole process of judging, were indicated and the title of the Nitten exhibition in the fiscal year 2014 would be renamed ‘the First Reorganized New Nitten’. (Japanese)

ICOMOS Japan Prize Founded and Its First Winners Announced

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Japan established the ICOMOS Japan Prize as well as the ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award. The ICOMOS Japan prize aims to encourage the preservation and conservation of structures, groups of historic buildings, cultural landscapes, monuments and historic ruins as well as historic sites. The ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award is specifically aimed at young researchers and encourages their academic research. On December 13, the first winners were announced. The ICOMOS Japan Prizes were shared between TAHARA Yukio, who served as Project Architect for the preservation and restoration of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building Project; and the Cultural Asset Garden Conservation Engineer Council (President: MIZUMOTO Takanobu) which has protected gardens of Cultural Properties and continues to hand down maintenance techniques to future generations. SHIMIZU Atsunobu, whose monograph is titled ‘Kenchiku hozon gainen no seiseishi’ (published by Chūō kōron bijutsu shuppan, 2013), received the ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award. (Japanese)

Plans of Preservation of the Takamatsuzuka Tomb and Its Public Opening Decided

On March 27, regarding a preservation project of the Takamatsuzuka Tomb located in Asuka Village, Nara Prefecture, the investigation committee of the Agency for Cultural Affairs decided that the murals of National Treasures would not be reinstated in the tomb for a while even after the restoration had completed, which had been expected to finish in the fiscal year 2017. Instead, they would be preserved and shown to the public outside of the tomb. Primary reasons given were failure to establish techniques to restrain molds as well as difficulties in reconstructing the stone burial chamber using damaged stones. (Japanese)

Yokohama Triennale 2014 Opened

Welcoming the artist MORIMURA Yasumasa as Artistic Director, the fifth Yokohama Triennale was held from August 1 to November 3 at the Yokohama Museum of Art and Shinko Pier Exhibition Hall as its main venues. Titled ‘Art Fahrenheit 451: Sailing into the sea of oblivion’, 79 artists participated. With the concept of the picking up abandoned objects, people as well as places in modern society where wealth and information are unevenly distributed, the Yokohama Triennale raised questions about the current situation where the nation bristled with international exhibitions. (Japanese)

VOCA Prize Winners Announced

On December 24, 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 ONO Kōseki, who created ‘Hundred Layers of Colors’. KISHI Kōta and MIZUNO Rina jointly received the VOCA Encouragement Prize. MATAUOKA Gaku and MATAUDAIRA Rina jointly received the VOCA Honorable Mention Prize. The Ohara Museum of Art Prize was given to KAWAKUBO Yoi. The VOCA exhibition 2015, where the winners’ works were exhibited, was held at the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo from March 15 to March 30 in 2015. (Japanese)

Memorial Ceremony held in Celebration of the Reconstruction of the Phoenix Hall of Byōdōin Temple

On April 2, a memorial ceremony was held at the Phoenix Hall (National Treasure) of Byōdōin temple to celebrate the reconstruction of the hall after the completion of the first major repair work in 56 years. The inside of the hall was reopened to the public the following day after a period of almost a year and a half closure. The repair work that began in 2012 included exchanging damaged roof tiles to matte antique looking tiles and recoating doors and pillars with red ochre (nitsuchi). (Japanese)

Removal of Artwork by TAKANO Ryūdai Adjured

On August 11, part of a photographic artwork by TAKANO Ryūdai at the exhibition titled ‘Photography Will Be’ held at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (August 1 – September 28) was classified as obscene and the artwork as ordered to be removed by the Aichi Prefectural Police. An anonymous tip to the Aichi Prefectural Police pointed out that male genitals were photographed in the artwork. Although the museum had already segregated the artwork and displayed notices, the exhibition continued with part of the photograph being covered with cloth-like material, which prompted a heated debate about freedom of expression at museums. (Japanese)

Special Exhibition ‘Mural Paintings of the Kitora Tumulus’ Opened

A special exhibition titled ‘Mural Paintings of the Kitora Tumulus’ opened at the Tokyo National Museum on April 22 (until May 18). Mural paintings of the Kitora Tumulus located in Asuka Village, Nara Prefecture, had been removed for conservation purposes whilst the restoration was being carried out. Among the four divine animals, three divine animals, Red Phoenix, White Tiger and Black Snake-tortoise, as well as Rat and Ox from the twelve zodiac animals were exhibited before the mural paintings that were removed would be restored into the walls. This was the first time that the mural paintings from the Kitora Tumulus were exhibited outside of Asuka Village. (Japanese)

Opening of Heisei Chishinkan Wing at the Kyoto National Museum

On September 13, Heisei Chishinkan Wing at the Kyoto National Museum opened its doors. Designed by TANIGUCHI Yoshio, it replaced the permanent exhibition building constructed in 1965. the building consists of four above ground stories and two below ground, which provide 3,600 m2 of exhibition space in total. The inaugural exhibition titled ‘Kyoto: Splendors of the Ancient Capital’ (September 13 – November 16) was held to celebrate its opening, which was composed of two installments: the first was titled ‘Portraiture’ and the second was titled ‘Momoyama: The Age of Hideyoshi’. (Japanese)

Yomiuri Aoniyoshi Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the 8th Yomiuri Aoniyoshi Prize (sponsored by the Yomiuri Shimbun with special support from the Japan Society for the Conservation of Cultural Property), which publicly honors individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements in the fields of conservation science and restoration, were announced. The Aoniyoshi Prize was given to Shōwa-mura karamushi seisan gijutsu hozon kyōkai, which have been not only growing a kind of grass, karamushi (false nettle), raw material of a type of cloth, but also handing down techniques of extracting fibers from false nettles for future generations. A lacquer brush maker, IZUMI Shinkichi (Saitama Prefecture) received the Encouragement Prize. The Special Prize was given to NPO Okinawa Denshōwa Shiryō Center. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Hishida Shunsō: A Retrospective’ Opened

On September 23, the exhibition titled ‘Hishida Shunsō: A Retrospective’ opened at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (until November 3). Commemorating the 140th anniversary of Hishida Shunsō’s birth, the exhibition consisted of 108 works of his artworks including his masterpieces of ‘Wang Zhaojun’, ‘Fallen Leaves’ and ‘Black Cat’. Research outcomes during the preparation period, such as scientific analysis of color materials and reconsideration of production dates for each work with assistance of newly discovered research materials, were reflected in the exhibition itself. (Japanese)

Report on National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties (structures) Designation Submitted

On May 16, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on nine buildings to be designated as Important Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes Goeidō (Founder’s Hall) and Amidadō (Hall of Amida Buddha) of Honganji temple in Kyoto which are to be designated as National Treasures, and the Kobe College (Nichinomiya City, Hyōgo Prefecture) and Former Baba Family Ushigome Residence (Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo) which are to be designated as Important Cultural Properties. In addition to the list, two districts, one of which is the historic quarter of storehouses in Murata Town, Miyagi Prefecture, were also suggested to be Important Preservation Districts for Group of Traditional Buildings. (Japanese)

Opening of the Ueda City Museum of Art

On October 2, the Ueda City Museum of Art (Director: TAKIZAWA Masayuki) opened its doors in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture. It succeeded the Yamamoto Kanae Memorial Museum, which honored YAMAMOTO Kanae, local yōga painter as well as print artist. Ueda Santomyuze where the museum is located as well as the Cultural and Art Exchange Center that also opened on the same day, was designed by YANAGISAWA Takahiko. The museum comprises special exhibition space (424 m2), permanent exhibition space (272 m2) as well as local residents atelier gallery, atelier and children atelier, where creative activities will take place and artworks by local residents will be exhibited. The inaugural exhibition titled ‘Retrospective of Kanae Yamamoto’s œuvre’ (October 2 – November 9) was held to celebrate its opening. (Japanese)

to page top