Explore the virtual world of Japan’s best art

In recent times, seeing some of the world’s finest pieces of art in the flesh has been impossible. However, you can still travel to Japan (virtually), thanks to the ‘Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM’, a platform that will change how we experience the country’s fascinating art scene.

This new platform is – as its name suggests – a virtual art festival that combines “real” experiences at physical venues and “virtual” experiences through online digital content. It’s a creative solution to the current restrictions the Japan Cultural Expo has faced, considering the organization had planned to (pre-covid) welcome swarms of visitors from across the globe to enjoy and marvel at the rich history and evolution of the country’s art and culture in all its forms.

For those uninitiated, the Japan Cultural Expo is a project developed to promote Japanese art and its values to audiences both domestic and abroad. It’s a year-round event timed to coincide with the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as a way to capture the attention of the globe and use that attention to showcase Japanese art in all its forms.  

Through special exhibits, talks, press events, and now a virtual platform, the Japan Cultural Expo cover eight key fields; Art and Cultural Treasures; Performing Arts; Media Arts; Lifestyle Arts, Literary Arts, and Music; Food Culture and Nature; Design and Fashion; Inclusive Society and Coexistence of Cultures; Disaster Recovery. Its theme for this edition is ‘Humanity and Nature in Japan.’

The platform, in a nutshell, is a collection of some of the finest artworks in Japan, including iconic pieces like Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave Over Kanagawa,’ with more pieces set to be added as time goes on.  

Currently, some of the content includes exhibitions of cultural properties from the Jomon period (13,000 – 500 BC), Buddhist statues and other forms of sculpture, ukiyoe woodblock prints, kōgei (Japanese art crafts), kimono, contemporary art, fashion, manga, and anime. There is also a showcase of the traditional performing arts of kabuki, noh, kyogen, and bunraku, as well as contemporary performing arts, art festivals, Ainu culture, and various hands-on projects for cultural properties.

One of the best features of this new platform has to be the fact that everyone, no matter location, background, or physical ability, can experience Japan’s best art exhibitions, performance and art festivals in the world through video, VR, and still images. It’s a new frontier for the country’s art community. 

The platform will also update those interested in what’s happening here in Japan, as physical projects of the Japan Cultural Expo will also be posted online. All the content is posted in English and Japanese, and the design and interface of the platform should be intuitive, utilizing the traditional museum building structure and layout transformed for the interactive virtual space. 

Another one of the most exciting elements of the platform is its malleability and seemingly endless potential for growth. In a recent press event introducing the opening of this virtual arts festival, Tokura Shunichi, the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, stated that looking further into the future, after this year’s event is all done and dusted, “even we [the organization] don’t know what form it might take.” Its open-ended and innovative design offers the possibility for this platform to give light to more overlooked and possibly under showcased artists and forms.  

Check out the platform here and for more information on the Japan Cultural Expo, visit the website.

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