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Japan’s Best Art and Culture Events in Autumn 2013
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Japan’s Best Art and Culture Events in Autumn 2013

Picture of Andrew Kingsford-Smith
Updated: 9 February 2017
Japan‘s festival culture is internationally famous, with hundreds of Matsuri (local religious festivals) happening across the country every year. On top of this Tokyo is regarded as one of the international art capitals of the world. From the cutting edge in Tokyo to the traditional in Kyoto, discover the top ten festivals happening in autumn and winter 2013 throughout Japan.

Photography | Tokyo International Photography Competition

Tokyo: 21 August – 8 September 2013

Bridging together two of the globe’s culture heavyweights,Tokyo and New York, the Tokyo International Photography Competition is an event that breaks down barriers and encourages cross-border collaborations. In addition to the competition, the event will see an exhibition of eight selected photographers (four American and four Japanese) on display first at the 72 Gallery in Tokyo (21 August – 8 September) and then at the United Photo Industries Gallery in New York (5 September – 24 October). Part of a larger initiative to launch the International Photography Festival in Tokyo in 2015, this budding event proves the true communicative properties of the still image.

Music | Tokyo Jazz Festival

Tokyo: 6-8 September 2013

The largest jazz event in Japan, the Tokyo Jazz Festival will fill three venues in Marunouchi with the sounds of the greatest jazz musicians from around the world. 2013 will see performances from renowned names like Aki Yashiro, Tony Bennett and Lee Konitz, luring thousands of music lovers to this iconic event. Organised by the Tokyo Jazz Executive Committee, this annual event is now in its 12th year, and its mass popularity highlights the significance of jazz in contemporary Japanese culture.

Food | Sapporo Autumn Fest

Sapporo: 13-29 September 2013

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is famous both nationally and internationally for its food, especially its unbeatable fresh seafood dishes. Set in the prefecture’s capital, the Sapporo Autumn Fest is a celebration of the region’s culinary traditions and with autumn representing the harvest season there is no better time to sample Japan’s northern flavors. Taking place in five sites in the Odori Park, visitors can feast on classic dishes such as irresistible ramen, as well as some of the country’s best sakes and wines.

Performance | Kyoto Experiment

Kyoto: 29 September – 27 October 2013

Founded in 2010, Kyoto Experiment is an international performance festival that focuses on unconventional works that experiment with form, style and topic. An event of global significance, the festival has launched numerous world premiere shows, as well as co-producing productions with emerging and established artists. Highlighting its international identity, 2013 will see performances from Britain, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Japan, and will include various exhibitions, film screening, workshops and more.

Art | Japan’s Setouchi Triennale

Setouchi: 5 October – 4 November 2013

An art event like no other, the Setouchi Triennale sees over 150 artists install artworks throughout the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, benefiting both the communities of the area and the discourse of contemporary art. Separated into three seasons, the autumn season will follow the success of spring and summer, and will feature an inspiring number of sculpture and installation works that fuse with the surrounding beauty, merging the boundaries of art and landscape.

Film | Tokyo International film Festival

Tokyo: 17-25 October 2013

2013 will see the Tokyo International Film Festival return for its 26th edition. Founded in 1985, this was Japan’s first major film festival and has become one of the most iconic and influential cinema events in Asia. An event that unites filmmakers and fans in their love for cinema, the festival will feature several exciting programs, including its main competition for films completed after January 2013; ‘Asian Future’, which screens films by the most exciting up-and-coming Asian directors; and ‘Japanese Cinema Splash’, which presents independent Japanese films to international audiences.

Culture | Jidai Matsuri

Kyoto: 22 October 2013

Translating as ‘festival of ages’, Jidai Matsuri is an iconic event that takes place in Kyoto, the former capital city of Japan. The main event of the festival is a parade that sees thousands of participants march from the Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine, dressed in historical costumes from the eras that Kyoto was the capital city. Stretching over five kilometres, Jidai Matsuri is a fantastic historical experience that attracts both locals and tourists to the enchanting city of Kyoto.

Design | Tokyo Design Week

Tokyo: 26 October – 4 November 2013

With a history dating back to 1986, Tokyo Design Week attracts the best artists and designers from around the would, creating an environment that facilitates a dialogue between companies, organizations, embassies, schools and practitioners, and their international audiences. Focusing on the mediums of architecture, interior design, product design, graphic design and art, the event features a landscape of exhibitions, as well as prestigious design award ceremonies.

Performance | Festival/Tokyo (F/T)

Tokyo: 9 November – 8 December 2013

Dubbed Japan’s biggest performing arts festival, Festival Tokyo (F/T) stages hundreds of performances annually, displaying cutting edge productions from Japan and around the world. This year’s festival holds a particular poignancy, exploring the concept of ‘post-disaster’ after Fukushima, and will ask questions such as ‘What has changed since that day? And what hasn’t?’ Spread over multiple venues including the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, the Owlspot Theatre and the Nishi-Sugamo Arts Factory, F/T promises a montage of thought-provoking experiences, as well as talks with the shows’ directors and writers.

Culture | Chichibu Yomatsuri

Chichibu: 2 – 3 December 2013

One of Japan’s greatest float festivals, Chichibu Yomatsuri has a history over 2000 years old. Translated as ‘Chichibu Night Festival’, the event pinnacles on the evening on the 3rd of December, when giant floats weighing roughly 10-20 tonnes are lit up and are lifted up a steep slope to the city’s main plaza, followed by beautiful fireworks and celebrations. Leading up to this climax, the decorated floats are paraded across the city and are transformed into stages for enchanting kabuki plays.

By Andrew Kingsford-Smith