Every year promises art. Despite the number of events across Japan increasing – with contemporary art festivals springing up on lesser-known isles each year and local projects occurring among ever-smaller communities – 2018 is something of an anomaly, with relatively few art festivals set to take place.
While 2017 boasted triennales in Sapporo, Yokohama and Fukuoka, biennales in Gunma, Osaka and Kobe, as well as marking the first triennale in Oku-Noto, 2018 could be the year to embrace locally-organised art events.
Here are our three favourite art festivals to visit:
1

Haruki Yukutake, ‘Restructure’, (2006) at the Echigo-tsumari Art Triennial in Tokamachi, Niigata, Japan.

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale   

29th July – 17th September

Happening for the seventh occasion, the artworks commissioned for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in Niigata will open to visitors in July. Also on display this year will be the results of the project Hojoki Shiki that collates designs for spaces 10 foot square in size.
For more information: echigo-tsumari.jp/eng/
2

Hideyuki Kidawara, Art Islands Tokyo (2013)

Art Islands Tokyo 2018

September

For any city-dwellers seeking remote destinations populated with contemporary art, if you are based in Tokyo you may not need to travel as far as you think. Well, technically, at least. Considered as part of Tokyo, a cluster of islands off the Izu peninsula have been hosting exhibitions during late summer since 2011 and this year is no exception.
For more information: art-islands-tokyo.com
3

Daniel Buren, ‘In the Corridor: the Four Rainbows’ (2016)

Kenpoku Art 2018

September-November

Began in 2016, Kenpoku Art takes place about 90 miles from Tokyo, in locations mountainous and coastal, in Northern Ibaraki. In the same region that Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installed their vast land art project ‘The Umbrellas’ (1984-91), this autumn festival sought to revitalise the area by combining art with technology. Directed by Fumio Nanjo, the inaugural festival occurred from September to November 2016. Established as a biennial foundation, Kenpoku Art 2018 is expected to happen during autumn too.
For more information: kenpoku-art/
And for fans of architecture, 2018 is shaping up rather well. During the spring, Mori Art Museum hosts  ‘Japan in Architecture: Genealogies of Its Transformation’ and late in 2018 will see the long-awaited reopening of MOT Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Happy New Year!