What are the Culture Cities of East Asia?
The Culture City of East Asia project is a tri-national event to promote cultural exchange between Japan, China and South Korea. Each nation selects one city that explains its cultural development through various programs. The people of these three nations use these programs to encourage trilateral exchange.
Project participants are trying to deepen mutual understanding and a sense of East Asian unity via cultural activities such as contemporary art, traditional arts and various livelihoods. At the same time, we are trying to enhance our international community transmission capabilities, conveying the various cultures of our countries.
With our theme, “From Japan’s Ancient Capital, Nara, to a Diversified Asia,” the city of Nara has set as our goal the promoting of peace in Asia by using this project to greatly deepen the connection of people in Asian countries, while respecting each other’s culture and celebrating our traditions and creativity.
In 2016, the City of Nara is a Culture City of East Asia
Nara is where Japan began organizing itself as a country some 1300 years ago. It is a city that is both historically and culturally special. It was the final destination of the Silk Road, the route that brought other East Asian cultures to Japan. The highly cultural artistic quality and spirituality that blossomed during the Nara Period (8th century) were the embodiment of grand space, time, the acts of various people and the spread of culture from Central Asia to Japan, the country at the far eastern end.
In 2016, Nara will be disseminating our new designation as a “Culture City of East Asia” to the international community.
Since it engaged with the world in ancient times, we believe Nara can use its cultural power to again deepen its bond with the world.
At the 7th Japan, China and South Korea Cultural Minister Meeting held on December 20, 2015, cities designated as the Culture Cities of East Asia 2016 were formally named; Nara in Japan, Ningbo in China and Jeju-teukbyeoljachido in South Korea.
Together with the other cities selected as Culture Cities of East Asia, Ningbo in China and Jeju-teukbyeoljachido in South Korea, Nara plans to deploy various programs designed to heighten mutual understanding and the sense of unity in East Asia. Now, the city of Nara will reveal the direction of the Culture Cities of East Asia.
Website for the Agency for Cultural Affairs
Culture City of East Asia 2016, Nara
From Japan’s Ancient Capital, Nara, to a Diversified Asia
As a Culture City of East Asia 2016, Nara intends to confirm and externally promote the cultural affinity of Asian regions mainly through the “performing arts,” “fine arts” and “food”. As the wave of world homogenization continues due to globalization, Asian regions are reviewing their identities. At the same time, as they are promoting their own cultures, they are opening up to new developments by connecting and exchanging with other regions that are struggling in the same manner. Community planned art festivals and cultural artistic activities held around Asia are conducted with such intention.
In this project, while we still intend to connect the efforts of various art festivals and regional events held in each city, we also intend to demonstrate the commonalities and diversifications of Asian cultures, using the open spirituality of the ancient city Nara as the foundation.
Constant exchanges among different cultures promotes creativity. The ancient city Nara will be widely and deeply connected with people of other Asian countries through this project, while still respecting each culture, resonating with tradition and creation, and aspiring for peacebuilding in Asia.
- Fram Kitagawa
- Advisor to Culture City of East Asia 2016, Nara
Born in 1946 in Niigata Prefecture. Art Director. Graduated from Faculty of Fine Arts of Tokyo University of the Arts. He produced Takehiko Inoue Interprets Gaudi’s Universe, Tachikawa Art Collection and other projects. Also the Executive Director of Echigo-Tsumari Art Field (2000~) and Setouchi Triennale (2010~).
Hosting a cultural exchange project via performing arts, fine arts, food and an academic path with new value
Japan, China and South Korea have been having a maritime relationship, separated as they are only be a strip of ocean. Nara during the Heijo Period may have been the most open city in Japanese history, featuring various kinds and levels of people crossing and exchanging goods and ideas.
I feel it means a lot to conduct the East Asian Cultural City project in Nara, Ningbo and Jeju-teukbyeoljachido in today’s severe environment and political situation. The framework of Nara is made up of shrines and temples. In this land of ground spirits, there has been a grand trial run of inpouring overseas thoughts and technologies, many of which have been adopted.
Based on the past and looking at contemporary issues with a view toward the future, the East Asian Cultural City project will disseminate the long standing framework, lifestyle and magnetism of Nara to the world. This dissemination will originate on the stages of World Heritage shrines and temples, disclosing it in artistic form.
The shrines and temples of Nara are places where one can actively experience the absorption of new products and people as they transfer them into their own cultures. Their splendor and sense of freedom are not comparable to the shrines and temples of other cities. First rate artists representing their countries will describe what their cultures traveled through by creating artworks in these shrines and temples. This is an attempt to view our contemporary world superimposed over the open internationalist one of the old, traversing 1300 years as well as the space over continents.
There is a state of tension around the East Asian Ocean, but from ancient times, oceans have been places of exchange. The 3 cities selected for the project this year are cities that have established their identities and cultures through the ocean. I look forward to this becoming a new cultural exchange project with performing arts, fine arts, food and an academic path with new value without being confined to those ancient people who crossed the ocean seeking the exchange of men and goods despite the danger.
Partner Cities in China and South Korea
Population: approximately 7.663 million Area: 9,816km2
Located on the middle of the coast line, Ningbo is a seafaring city of enterprising spirit. The city has had strong links with Japan throughout its history, being a prospering city of trade, known to the Japanese people as the port of arrival and departure of Kento-shi envoys.
South Korea/ Jeju-teukbyeoljachido
Population: approximately 610,000 Area: 1,848km2
Jeju-teukbyeoljachido City is a political jurisdiction comprised of the entire Jeju, which is located in the southwestern part of South Korea and included the islands of Udo and Marado. There are many entertainment and tourism facilities which attract a lot of domestic and international tourists thanks to their abundant seafood products.