7 Best Art Festivals in Japan

List of Famous Japanese Art Festivals

Best Art Festivals in Japan

Art can express everything such as someone’s mind, history, and culture. Artists create and show their own world by drawing, taking photos, or creating something. To share their artworks and give people an experience of meeting a new world, art festivals are held consistently all over the world. Art festivals enable creators to build a community with visitors who are inspired by their artworks. Visitors would find something new or get a new view of the world from the artworks by visiting an art festival. If you’re exhausted about the current situation, going to art festivals could be a refreshing experience.

There are various art festivals in Japan as well. Speaking of Japanese art, a lot of traditional art has fascinated people with its delicate beauty, such as Ukiyoe and traditional handicrafts. However, more and more people are also getting interested in modern art. Following this, various world-scale modern art festivals are held throughout Japan currently, in Tokyo, the historical city of Kyoto, and Naoshima, which is known as an art island.

Ranging from modern art to art exhibitions connecting with the local community, you can visit different types of art festivals. Let’s have a look at the 7 best art festivals in Japan.

1. Setouchi Triennale


Setouchi Triennale is held once every three years in the Setouchi area including 12 islands, Naoshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Teshima, Inujima, Oshima, Shamijima, Honjima, Takamijima, Awashima, and Ibukijima, and 2 ports, Uno Port and Takamatsu Port. The Setouchi area is surrounded by the Seto Inland Ocean, which is located between the main island and Shikoku Island of Japan. The area has a serious aging issue and declines the function of a local community due to globalization and environmental deterioration.

Naoshima is well-known as the island of art worldwide. The local people have been enthusiastic about installing modern art on the island to prevent a decline in the number of people since the 1990s. The objects called Yellow Pumpkin and Red Pumpkin were designed by one of the most popular Japanese modern artists, Yayoi Kusama. They are now the symbol of Naoshima and many tourists from all over the world visit there to have a look at these amazing artworks.

Setouchi Triennale art festival was begun to make local elderly people smile and to recover the hilarious society in the area. The final goal is to be “the sea of hope” of the world through the art festival. Lots of artworks are exhibited in 12 islands and 2 ports regarding local lives, community, and environment. Visitors not only appreciate amazing artworks but also get an opportunity to think about living on the earth and what we have to do for the future environment.

Website: https://setouchi-artfest.jp/

2. Echigo-Tsumari Art Field

echigo tumari

Echigo-Tsumari Art Field was started as a pioneer of local art festivals in 2000, held every three years. The Echigo-Tumari area in Niigata is one of the heaviest snowing places in Japan. People who live in the area are moving out to the city, which is getting a serious problem for the local community. To rebuild the local society, the festival is held in 6 areas of Echigo-Tumari: Tokamachi, Kawanishi, Nakasato, Matsudai, Matsunoyama, and Tsunan.

The art festival exhibits artworks in nature throughout the year. There are a lot of unique and spectacular artworks such as an outdoor sculpture using huge nature, and others using empty houses, ruins, and tunnels. All of them are sight-specific, created by developing the local land. Through the artificial creative works in huge nature, visitors can feel the mixture of nature and humanity via 5 senses.

Moreover, Echigo-Tumarin Satoyama Modern Museum MonET is the main museum where visitors enjoy artworks relating to the natural features and culture of Echigo-Tsumari.


3. Aichi Triennale


Aichi Triennale has been held every three years since 2010 in Aichi Prefecture. It’s one of the biggest scale international art festivals in Japan. A lot of artists are attending not only from Japan but from all over the world. Based on modern art, the exhibition ranges from performing arts to a learning program and spreads diversity of arts from Aichi.

The Learning program provides visitors with opportunities to learn how to create and enjoy art. Visitors can deepen their understanding of each artwork and discover connections to other artworks through lectures by internationally acclaimed artists. Moreover, there is a lecture about the history and society of Aichi by specialists. Aichi Triennale has a great role that visitors can find the attractive points of Aichi Prefecture.

Website: https://aichitriennale.jp/index.html

4. Sapporo International Art Festival

sapporo international art festival-min
©2023 Sapporo International Art Festival

Sapporo International Art Festival is a special art event where you can see the latest world artworks. It has been held since 2014 every three years having an exhibition and performance at various places in Sapporo.

Sapporo was designated as a Media Art City of the UNESCO creative city network for the first time in Asia and the second time in the world. Sapporo International Art Festival Labo is a platform to research creativity, create and exhibit artworks as artists and build and expand the local community through the art festival. Following the theme of “City and Nature”, which is a feature of Sapporo, the festival disseminates Sapporo’s culture and art by making visitors rethink how the city and nature should be and reconnecting the local places and people.

Website: https://siaf.jp/

5. Alternative Kyoto


Alternative Kyoto is an art project featuring the history, cultural heritages, nature, and living culture of Kyoto. Kyoto has 3 different aspects: ocean, forest, and Japanese tea. Many tourists visit Kyoto seeking these attractions from all over the world. However, most of them stay around the main city and the hidden places are still unknown to the tourists. Alternative Kyoto was started in 2019 to reveal the beauty of such hidden places by collaborating with innovative young artists.

For example, 3 works of digital art, created by famous Japanese modern artists, were played on a huge screen in Amanohashidate Park, which is one of the 3 most famous sights in Japan, in 2022. There was an imaginary space made by digital arts such as light, music, and film.

The exhibition is developed in a public place so everyone who passes the place can watch the artwork. By doing this, more and more people can join the local community and get interested in and accept modern art.

Website: https://2022.alternative-kyoto.jp/

6. Tokyo Biennale


Tokyo Biennale is held every 2 years based in Chiyoda Ward, Chuo Ward, Bunkyo Ward, and Taito Ward in Tokyo. A range of artists and creators from all over the world come to establish a fantastic art festival with the local community.

Tokyo Biennale is organized by citizens. People who live and work in Tokyo organize the event so that visitors can not only enjoy artwork but also feel the cultural resources of Tokyo. In other words, local people and people who come for the festival share the experience and build a new culture through Tokyo Biennale. For example, watching the exhibition about the history of Tokyo is leading to finding the current social problem and thinking about the future possibility.

Website: https://tokyobiennale.jp/

7. Biwako Biennale


Biwako Biennale is held in 35 venues around the Biwako Lake, such as Omihachiman Old Downtown and Hikone Downtown. It was started to find how to preserve and heritage of historical buildings into art, by renovating traditional buildings, old houses, and Sake brewery to the exhibition venues. The final goal is to recover the beautiful mind that the Japanese have.

The festival is primarily divided into 2 venues. Omihachiman Old Downtown was developed as a commercial town.  A lot of exhibitions are held in traditional Japanese locations such as the former post office and traditional Japanese houses as they used to be.

Hikone Downtown, on the other hand, was established as a castle town of Hikone Castle. Hikone Castle is currently a gorgeous national treasure. There are a variety of historical buildings including museums and Japanese gardens in the town. Visitors can enjoy art exhibitions and traditional Japanese culture at the same time.

Website: https://energyfield.org/biwakobiennale/

Thank you for reading till the end!!

In my opinion, going to an art festival is one of the best ways to get new values and broaden your horizon. The art festivals I wrote about above have a connection with the local community so you can learn traditional Japanese culture more deeply.

I hope this article would help to make your journey unforgettable!!

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Written by

Hello, I'm Kanako. I have a passion for traveling and indulging in local cuisine from various regions. Some of my favorite places in Japan include the beautiful Kanazawa, vibrant Osaka, and lively Fukuoka. A true enthusiast of live music, I particularly enjoy watching rock bands perform and immerse myself in the electrifying atmosphere. As a keen shopper, I always stay on top of the latest fashion trends to keep my style fresh and exciting. I truly hope that my articles can inspire and assist you in your travels or daily life in Japan. Happy exploring!