New Members of the Japan Art Academy Selected

On November 25, the Japan Art Academy (Director: KUROI Senji) announced that six new members had been selected to join their ranks for their distinguished artistic achievements. In relation to art, yōga painter SATŌ Tetsu, architect MAKI Fumihiko and art critic and translator TAKASHINA Shūji were selected. It was officially announced by HASE Hiroshi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on December 15. (Japanese)

Report on Living National Treasures Designation Submitted

On July 17, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) 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 ŌSUMI Yukie, metalwork artist who has created a modern style of work with fluid lines and the unique colors of metal. (Japanese)

The Japan Media Arts Festival Awards Announced

On November 27, the Agency for Cultural Affairs announced the winning works for the 19th 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 graphic art titled ‘50. Shades of Grey’ by Chung Waiching Bryan (United Kingdom) in the Art Division; a music theater for children titled ‘Best way for counting numbers’ by KISHINO Yūichi (Japan) in the Entertainment Division; an animated short film titled ‘Rhizome’ by Boris Labbé (France) in the Animation Division; and a manga titled ‘So-and-so, Such-and-such’ by HIGASHIMURA Akiko in the Manga Division. (Japanese)

Report on Registered Tangible Cultural Properties Designation Submitted

On July 17, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on 195 structures to be designated as Registered Tangible Cultural Properties to SHIMOMURA Hakubun, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list includes reinforced concrete bridges constructed in the early Shōwa period in the Kinosaki hot spring district in Toyooka City, Hyōgo Prefecture. (Japanese)

ICOMOS Japan Prize 2015 and ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award 2015 Winners Announced

On December 12, the winners of the ICOMOS Japan Prize 2015 as well as the ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award were announced. 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. The ICOMOS Japan Prize was given to YAMADE Tamotsu (Former Mayor of Kanazawa City), who has steadfastly maintained Kanazawa’s reputation as a city of history and culture through his outstanding achievements in promoting the city’s historical and environmental preservation measures. The ICOMOS Japan Honorable Mention Award was shared between TOYOKAWA Saikaku (Assistant Professor, Oyama National College of Technology), who has advanced his research in the history of modern architecture and urban planning, for his monograph titled ‘Architectural Theories and Practices by Kenzō Tange’ and his edited book titled ‘Tange Kenzō and KENZO TANGE’ and TORIUMI Motoki (Assistant Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University), who conducted a series of studies on the protection of cultural heritage in France. (Japanese)

Plan for New National Stadium Reviewed

On July 17, the design by British architect Zaha Hadid for a new National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, was withdrawn. The design, which was selected through an international competition in 2012, had received heavy criticism for its destruction of the landscape and the high cost of construction. A second competition was subsequently held on December 22, 2015, where the design by KUMA Kengo was selected. (Japanese)

Committee for the Conservation of the Kondō Murals at Hōryūji Established

The Committee for the Conservation of the Kondō Murals at Horyūji (Committee Chair: ARIGA Yoshitaka) was established with the cooperation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Asahi Shimbun Company. Its first meeting was held on December 5. The latest scientific research project into the mural paintings of the Kondō Murals, which were severely damaged by a fire in 1949, will examine the potential for permanent conservation and use of the murals, including opening them to the public. An interim report on the survey is expected to be compiled in 2019, the 70th anniversary of the fire. (Japanese)

Niihama City Museum of Art Opened

On July 18, the Niihama City Museum of Art (Director: YAMANO Hidetsugu) opened in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture. It opened on the second floor of the Akagame Museum, inheriting and developing the functions and exhibitions of the Niihama City Native Museum, which subsequently closed in 2016. (Japanese)

The 27th 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 27th Ringa Art Encouragement Prize. In the Art History Research Division, MIZUNUMA Hirokazu (Chief Curator, Chiba City Museum of Art), IWAO Yoshinobu (Specialist, Oita Art Museum) and MATSUOKA Takeshi (Curator, Oita Art Museum) shared the award for their curated exhibition titled ‘“The Principles of Art” by Akasegawa Genpei: From 1960s to the Present’ and for the contribution of their essays to its exhibition catalog. In the Art Criticism Division, EJIRI Kiyoshi (Curator, Ashikaga Museum of Art) received the prize for his work which includes the curation of the exhibition titled ‘The Coming of Susanoo: The Life, Anger and Prayer’. (Japanese)

Displaced Cultural Properties Returned to Afghanistan

On August 5, the Japan Committee for the Protection of Displaced Cultural Properties (Chairperson: MIYATA Ryōhei) announced the return of some displaced cultural properties to Afghanistan. The Committee was established under the leadership of HIRAYAMA Ikuo, who served a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, following the destruction of the stone Buddha statues of the Bamiyan Valley by the Taliban in 2001. It has been protecting and preserving cultural properties that were illegally taken abroad during the political unrest caused by civil wars. The 102 displaced cultural properties will be returned after some of them are displayed in the special exhibition titled ‘Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul’ to be held at the Kyushu National Museum and the Tokyo National Museum in 2016. (Japanese)

VOCA Prize Winners Announced

On December 23, 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 HISAKADO Tsuyoshi, who created ‘crossfades #3’. SUZUK Nozomi, who created ‘Other Days, Other Eyes’, and TANIHARA Natsuko, who created ‘Edo’, jointly received the VOCA Encouragement Prize. ŌYAMA Enrico Isamu, who created ‘FFIGURATI #117’, and SATAKE Maki, who created ‘Shōzōki’, jointly received the VOCA Honorable Mention Award. The Ohara Museum of Art Prize was given to OZAKI Shinpey, who created ‘ceremony’. The VOCA exhibition 2016, where the winners’ works were exhibited, was held at the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo from March 12 to March 30 in 2016. (Japanese)

The Olympic Emblem Withdrawn

On September 1, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games decided to withdraw the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The entry by SANO Kenjirō was selected as the official emblem in July 2015. However, its originality became disputed, and its use was withdrawn at SANO’s request after a lawsuit was filed in August seeking an injunction against its use due to its resemblance to the logo of the Théâtre de Liège in Belgium. TOKOLO Asao’s design was subsequently chosen as the official emblem through another public competition. (Japanese)

Agency for Cultural Affairs Reinstates Support for Nitten

The Agency for Cultural Affairs has decided to reinstate support for the Nitten exhibition, which is run by the Nitten, in the fiscal year 2015 and to reintroduce the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award, following the revelations of organizational corruption in the award of the Calligraphy section in 2013. The Agency also informed the Japan Art Academy that the selection process should return to normal from the fiscal year 2015 though it had requested that former Nitten judges be excluded from the candidate pool of new members. (Japanese)

The 27th Praemium Imperiale Laureates Announced

On September 10, the laureates of the 27th 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 YOKOO Tadanori (Japan) in the Painting category, Wolfgang Laib (Germany) in the Sculpture category and Dominique Perrault (France) in the Architecture category. (Japanese)

Exhibition ‘Shunga’ Opened

On September 19, the exhibition titled ‘Shunga’ opened at the Eisei Bunko Museum (until December 23). As international recognition and research into shunga continues to grow, the exhibition was organized with full support of the Eisei Bunko Museum, following the Shunga exhibition held at the British Museum from 2013 to the following year. This was the first ever full-scale exhibition of shunga held at a museum in Japan, which attracted a great deal of interest with a record number of visitors. The exhibition travelled to the Hosomi Museum (Kyoto City) (February 6, 2016 – April 10). (Japanese)

The 27th Annual Kokka Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the 27th Kokka Prize, an award for remarkable research on Japanese and East Asian art, were announced. The Kokka Prize was given to a monograph titled ‘Tō Sō sansuiga kenkyū’ (Chūō kōron bijutsu shuppan, 2015) by TAKENAMI Haruka (Kyoto City University of Arts). The Kokka Special Prize was given to an article titled ‘Nōmen geijutsu no keisei’ (Kokka, Vol. 1431 & 1436, 2015) by TANABE Saburōsuke (Professor Emeritus at Musashino Art University). The Kokka Exhibition Catalog Prize was given to an exhibition catalog titled ‘Buddhist sculpture of Kyushu region’ (Fukuoka City Museum, 2014) by SUEYOSHI Takeshi. (Japanese)

Exhibitions to Commemorate the 400th Anniversary of Rinpa

The year 2015 marks the 400th anniversary of the opening of the art village, later called ‘Kōetsu Village’ in Takagamine, Kyoto in 1615 by HON’AMI Kōetsu, one of artists thought to have inspired the founding of Rinpa, and the 300th anniversary of the death of OGATA Kōrin. Exhibitions that commemorate the occasion were organized across the nation. In Kyoto, several cultural events titled ‘Rimpa 400 Year Celebration Festival’ were organized, including ‘Rinpa: The Aesthetics of the Capital’ at the Kyoto National Museum (October 10 – November 23) and ‘400th Anniversary of the Rinpa School: The “RINPA” Image’ at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (October 9 – November 23). In addition, ‘Korin and Modern Art’ was held at the MOA Museum of Art (February 4 – March 3) and ‘Irises and Red and White Plum Blossoms: The Secret of Kōrin’s Design’ was held at the Nezu Museum (April 18 – May 17), at both of which ‘Irises’ (Nezu Museum collection) and ‘The Red and White Blossoms’ (MOA Museum of Art collection) were exhibited together. Outside of Japan, the Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Gallery organized an exhibition titled ‘Sōtatsu: Making Waves’ (October 24 – January 31, 2016). (Japanese)

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

On October 16, the Council for Cultural Affairs (Commissioner: MIYATA Ryōhei) submitted a report on one building of the Iwashimizu Hachimangū main shrine (Hachiman City, Kyoto Prefecture), which is the oldest and the largest among the existing Iwashimizu Hachimangū shrines, to be designated as a National Treasure as well as eight buildings to be designated as Important Cultural Properties, to HASE Hiroshi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The list of Important Cultural Properties designation includes the former Abashiri Prison (Agashiri City, Hokkaidō), where radial wooden cells are perfectly preserved, and the Residence of Toda Family (Kamiita-chō, Tokushima Prefecture) who supported the indigo industry, located by the lower Yoshino River. (Japanese)

Order of Culture and Person of Cultural Merit Recipients Announced

On October 30, the Japanese government announced seven recipients of the Order of Culture and 16 recipients of the Person of Cultural Merit for the fiscal year 2015. In relation to art, textile artist SHIMURA Fukumi was awarded the Order of Culture, and lacquer artist MITANI Goichi was awarded the Person of Cultural Merit. (Japanese)

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