Noteworthy Press Releases from Japan

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print

Arts Council Tokyo

Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13 – Bringing Tokyo to Life through Culture this Summer!  See 13 programs across the city, on display until September 5.


Press release
PDF ver.


The Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13, organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), is offering a wide variety of cultural programs to enliven the summer of 2021, as Tokyo attracts attention from around the world. The opening of the Exhibition of manga 《What if Tokyo》 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo on August 4 brings together all 13 vibrant projects. Many of these will run until September 5, with COVID-19 infection-prevention measures including online-based projects, timed ticketing, and outdoor exhibits. Don’t miss this exciting arts program, available exclusively in Tokyo this summer.

The Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13 is a series of 13 projects selected from 2,436 applications received from Japan and overseas through an open call for proposals to enhance the cultural dimension of Tokyo's hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A selection of the projects opened in 2019 but postponed in 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19. By September 2021, the program will at last have been presented in full across various locations in Tokyo. These 13 highly original projects cross various genres and look to the future with a spirit of bright ambition and hope.

Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19.
● Each project is carried out with infection prevention measures in place, in compliance with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Guidelines for Infection Spread Prevention.
● Visitors are requested to wear masks, measure temperature, use alcohol-based disinfectants, and take any other appropriate measures to prevent infection when visiting onsite projects.
● The program and individual projects may be subject to change depending on the status of COVID-19 infection rates.
For the latest information and further details, please refer to the official website of each project.

The Constant Gardeners
Planning and Production: Jason Bruges Studio
Dates: Wednesday, July 28 - Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venue: Fountain Square, Ueno Park
Official website:
A large-scale outdoor robotic art installation combining cutting-edge computing and the ancient tradition of the Japanese Zen Garden. Analyzing the data of athletes’ physical movements in various sporting disciplines and events, “The gardeners”, or four industrial robot arms will create patterns on a huge canvas made from 14 tons of gravel.

SUMIDA RIVER | Storm and Urge
Planning and Production: NPO TOPPING EAST
Date: Friday, August 13 - Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venues: Various venues in Sumida River area and Online
Official website:
A participatory music and art festival that links Sumida River to its stage, featuring music-based live performances and installations set in Spring and Summer. In the Spring season, held on May 22 (Sat) and 23 (Sun), three programs were presented online, including a one-night outdoor concert at Hama-rikyu Gardens by the Shuta Hasunuma Philharmonic Orchestra led by Shuta Hasunuma.

TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020
Planning and Production: TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020 Executive Committee
Date: Wednesday, May 26 - Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venues: Approx. 500 public bathhouses in Tokyo
Official website:
Approximately 500 public bathhouses in Tokyo are participating in this project. In a collaboration with four bathhouses with the aim of creating murals themed on Tokyo in 2021, “Sento Mural Art” brings together Japanese artists from fields such as manga, art brut, contemporary art, and popular character art, under the direction of big names such as “Thermae Romae” author Mari Yamazaki and Ichio Otsuka, art director for NHK E-TV's “Miitsuketa!” Meanwhile, sento mural painter Mizuki Tanaka will oversee paintings at each
bathhouse. Further, approximately 500 public bathhouses will hang original noren curtains drawn by Mari Yamazaki, and jointly host a Stamp Rally in which participants can receive a special edition TOKYO SENTO Festival 2020 tenugui towel.

Planning and Production: Drill Inc.
Date: Saturday, July 17 - Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venues: Marunouchi Building and New Marunouchi Building
Official website:
A large scale mural with an approximate area of 7000 m² by artists Tadanori Yokoo and Mimi Yokoo. The work is displayed on the walls of the Marunouchi Building and New Marunouchi Building, which are landmarks in central Tokyo. Based on the concept of “Universe COSMO POWER,” both artists have created original works based on the themes of aqua (water) and ignis (fire) as the elements that form the basis of space-life. Using the techniques of montage and collage, each part of the work is composed of something other than simple fire and water, and by viewing the artwork from various vantage points--from higher or lower as well as left and right--visitors will be able to make different discoveries depending on their viewpoint, time of day, and weather conditions.

Planning and Production: NPO Dance Archive Network
Dates: Thursday, April 1 – Sunday, August 15, 2021
Venues: Online and various locations in Tokyo
Official website:
An experimental art festival that revitalizes Butoh, which originated in post-war Japan and spread throughout the world, as well as various other Butoh-inspired artforms in a contemporary underground space. The festival used the keyword “underground” to explore the history of the city and physical expression, which is undergoing drastic changes in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The festival included a photo exhibition in the underground passageway, an AR-enhanced city walking experience, and online performances. The “Butoh: New Archive Exhibition” was held as the closing program from August 3 and featured a new video work by photographer Ryudai Takano, original illustrations from the Butoh Incidents, a chronological table of Butoh events published online, and a pseudo-hologram exhibition.

Planning and Production: Japan Dance Truck Association
Dates: Thursday, September 5, 2019 - September 2021
Venues: Various locations in Tokyo and Online
Official website:
A mobile “DANCE TRUCK” using delivery truck cargo space as a stage is held at various locations in Tokyo. Performances were held in five locations in FY2019 (one of which was cancelled due to severe weather). Performances in front of JR Takanawa Gateway Station and Tsukiji Hongwanji without audience were held in FY2020 and now available on the website. So far in FY2021, performances have been held in two locations: Tachikawa Sansan Road (Tachikawa) and Former Nakagawa River Station (Higashi-Ojima).

Planning and Production: Executive Committee of Pavilion Tokyo 2021
(WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art)
Dates: Thursday, July 1 - Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venues: Several venues in Tokyo, mainly around National Stadium
Official website:
The world’s first attempt to propose a free and new urban landscape by installing buildings and objects in multiple locations around the National Stadium. The exhibition features nine pavilions by six of the world’s most notable architects and two of Japan’s leading artists, Makoto Aida and Yayoi Kusama. Daito Manabe + Rhizomatiks also joined the project as additional creators. With a map in hand, visitors can go on a treasure hunt or just take a stroll through the pavilions where these world-renowned architects and artists have expressed their hopes for the future. Related events include a symposium featuring the pavilion designers and guest speakers which the archives could be watched online, and a related exhibition at the WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art (some pavilions require pre-booking and/or admission fees).

After-School Diversity Dance
Planning and Production: ADD Executive Committee
Dates: May – Sunday, August 22, 2021 (workshops held from
September 2019)
Venues: Minato-city, Kunitachi-city and Hinode-town
Official website:
As a multicultural workshop project to build a bridge between the diverse dance cultures in Tokyo, allowing children of different ages, genders, nationalities, and bodies to practice together, this project was held from September 2019 to June 2021 in Minato-city, Kunitachi-city, and Hinode-town. After participating in workshops by professional choreographers and various dancers in the community, the children themselves challenged at creating their own dances. Due to the spread of COVID-19, significant changes had to be made to the original plan, such as conducting the creation in a hybrid online format. A resulting debriefing session and documentary video will be released online on August 22, 2021 to summarize the overall project.

Exhibition of manga 《What if Tokyo》
Planning and Production: Exhibition of manga 《What if Tokyo》 Executive Committee
Dates: Wednesday, August 4 – Sunday, September 5, 2021
Venue: The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Official website:
This is a project to exhibit 20 works on the theme of “Tokyo” drawn by 20 leading Japanese manga artists including Taiyo Matsumoto (Ping Pong), Inio Asano (Solanin) and Shinichi Ishizuka (Blue Giant). It is a new type of manga exhibition with the concept of “Reading Tokyo, Walking Manga,” in which the 20 “What if Tokyo” works created by the manga artists are exhibited in various areas of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, including the B2F auditorium and public spaces such as courtyard. Admission is free, but reservations are required for the exhibition in the auditorium.

◆Event Report
Planning: 目 [mé]
Date: Friday, July 16 and Friday, August 13, 2021
Venues: Central Tokyo and Eastern Tokyo
Official website:
A project planned by the contemporary art team 目 [mé]. On July 16
and August 13, the “masayume” project saw the face of a real person float into the Tokyo sky. Although the date, time, and location of the event were not announced beforehand in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to emphasize the importance of the experience of encountering the work by chance, the gigantic face that suddenly appeared in the city center early in the morning attracted a lot of attention through various channels such as live streaming, SNS, and mass media. The floating “face” is the face of an existing person, selected from more than 1,000 faces gathered through the open call for faces held in 2019, and is a three-dimensional sculpture as large as a six to seven-story building. The scene garnered a great amount of attention and created buzz across a range of networks.

World Performing Arts Forum
Planning and Production: Japan Folk Performing Arts Association
Date: Sunday, August 1, 2021
Venue: Hulic Hall Tokyo
Official website:
The World Performing Arts Festival 2020 is an event inviting performing arts from six countries on five continents (the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Estonia, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Kingdom of Tonga, the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Republic of Honduras) to introduce folk performing arts handed down from generation to generation in various parts of the world. It aims to show the importance and appeal of the World Intangible Cultural Heritage. Although it was scheduled to be held last year, it was cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19. Instead, a forum was held to report on the research conducted in each country and to hold a discussion with invited guests. The reports, which included video footage taken during the research, conveyed the culture of each region that nurtured the performing arts, the colorful costumes, and other attractions that one would normally have to visit to see. The discussion featured guests such as musician H.E. Demon Kakka and TV reporter Kanae Takeuchi, and touched on the unexpected similarities between the performing arts of Japan and the world as well as the diversity of Bon Odori(Japanese tradition folk dance), providing opportunity for the audience to experience the charm and value of the world’s intangible cultural heritage that they may not have encountered before.

The Speed of Light
Planning: Marco Canale
Date: Theatrical performance held on Saturday, May 22, 2021
Film project released online from Wednesday, May 12 to Monday, May 31, 2021
Venues: Nishi-Taishido Park, various places in Taishido, Setagaya
Special outdoor stage at Taishido Hachiman Shrine
Official website:
A touring-type theater project directed by Marco Canale, an Argentine theater and film director, and the performers aged 65 and older living in Tokyo selected through an open call to tour the city of Tokyo together. In the theater performance held on Saturday, May 22, senior citizens living in Tokyo shared their personal histories through performances, and then presented a fictional story written by Canale based on his research in Tokyo, in which the worlds of the past, present, and future intersect. This work, which deals with death, the afterlife, and faith, was performed in the sacred art of Noh, where the living meet the dead. With Canale's hope that this would be an opportunity to share with the audience the memories and pain left behind by the war, as well as the memories and stories of the performers who lived through the remarkable post-war reconstruction, the performers poured everything they had into this work, which moved the audience greatly. The theater performance and the film project of “The Speed of Light” ended in May, but you can still get a glimpse of the performers’ personal histories filled with their real experiences, memories, and emotions in the short video series “Each History Breathed in Tokyo,” available on the official YouTube site. Also the video footage of the theatrical performance is available for a limited time from Saturday, August 14 to Monday, September 20.

Light and Sound Installation “Coded Field”
Planning, production and direction: Rhizomatiks
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2019
Venues: Daihonzan of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism Zojoji, Minato City Shiba Park and Metropolitan Shiba Park.
Official website:
A public art project featuring light and sound, held at Zojoji Temple and its surrounding area in Shiba, Minato-city, Tokyo. The audience walked with balloon-shaped devices in and around Zojoji Temple, which was embedded with information and sensors to generate light and sound, transforming it into an interactive field. The devices were especially designed for this project and emitted different types of light and sound depending on participants’ location. As a total of 1,000 devices moved simultaneously, lights twinkled and sounds stirred, transforming the historical and traditional grounds of the Zojoji Temple into futuristic Tokyo. In addition, the cart-shaped autonomous robot which could move freely back and forth, left and right, was unveiled, choreographing the live performance. It was a never-before-seen installation that fully incorporated the technology of Rhizomatiks. The dance company “ELEVENPLAY,” led by director and choreographer MIKIKO, also performed on the stage and in the venue, moving freely and
captivating the audience.

About Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL is an initiative that unfolds a variety of cultural programs in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Tokyo, promoting its appeal as a city of arts and culture.
Official website:

About Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo sought a wide range of creative and innovative ideas from the public for projects that would become the core of the cultural programs for the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL. From a total of 2,436 project proposals submitted from within Japan and overseas, 13 were selected for implementation. The 13 projects are collectively named “Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13,”and are being implemented in sequence.
Official website:

<For inquiries about this project>
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13 Office TEL:03-6256-9921

<Media Contact>
PR Office for Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
TEL: NAKAYAMA Junko 090-3503-4356 / KONNO Rika 070-6478-7121

About Us
Covering Japan
News Resources
Activity Reports
Reaching the Press