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Part 1 Toward a Culturally-Oriented Nation
Chapter 1 Japanese Culture Today
Section 2: Aspects of Japanese Culture
1. Summary of Cultural Activities in Recent Years

(1) The State of Cultural Activities Conducted by the Japanese People

Based on the situation briefly summarized in Section 1, cultural activities conducted by the Japanese people have exhibited great progress in recent years.

According to the "Opinion Poll on National Culture" conducted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, 63.0% of respondents had appreciated the arts firsthand at theatres, cinemas, museums or art museums in the past year. The most popular areas, in order, were art, film, life culture, and theater (See Figure 1-1-36 ). The number of visitors to art museums rose from 45.34 million (during FY1989) to 53.41 million (during FY1998) (See Table 1-1-13 ). In response to the same question asked in the Prime Minister's Office's "Public Opinion Survey on Culture" (1996), 54.7% answered that they appreciated the arts firsthand.

Figure 1-1-36 Areas in Which People Engage in Art Appreciation Firsthand

Table 1-1-13 Number of Visitors to Museums

Also, it is thought that, through the spread of television, video, radio, CD, and CD-ROM, the appreciation of art through these media is increasing in popularity, particularly among the younger generation. According to a survey by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, 35.4% of respondents in their 20s stated that they engaged in the firsthand appreciation of art after "gaining interest in them through television, video, CDs or records."

Recently, the tendency in Japan has been not to simply appreciate cultural activities but to actively participate in them, by performing and creating oneself. According to the previously-mentioned "Opinion Poll on National Culture," 19.5% of respondents had participated in some sort of creative cultural activity. "Because I do not have time" (44.0%) was most often cited as the reason for not performing creative activities, followed by "Because I am satisfied with just appreciating art" (30.7%).

People's participation in these types of national cultural activities has served to boost amateur cultural activities. For example, it has been estimated that more than 1.5 million people throughout Japan belong to choruses, whereas 700,000 to 800,000 are active in brass bands. In the area of fine arts, approximately four to five million people create their own artwork, and it is said that over ten million practice calligraphy. Traditional cultural activities remain extremely popular, with millions of people participating in the tea ceremony and flower arranging, respectively. Folk songs, dances, and recitation are also very popular. In addition, a diverse range of traditional cultural activities can be seen, including games such as go and shogi, and other performing arts, each of which have many fans.

Recently, the number of private institutions devoted to cultural study, such as so-called "culture centers," has increased, playing a major role not only in social education but also in the promotion of cultural activities. According to the "Public Opinion Survey on Lifelong Learning" (1999) conducted by the Prime Minister's Office, the greatest number of people (40.5%) stated that the form taken by "lifelong learning activities" consisted of an "independent gathering of fellow enthusiasts," followed by "lectures and classes held in public halls by independent bodies such as prefectural and municipal governments" and "private lectures and classes held in culture centers and sports clubs" (See Figure 1-1-37 ).

Figure 1-1-37 Forms of Lifelong Learning Activities

(2) The State of the Individuals and Organizations Responsible for Cultural Activities

{1} Artists

The core of these cultural activities is the people who work in art-related activities. Using censuses to observe the change in population by field, the number of these "artists" has increased 3.4 times over the 30 years between 1965 and a survey taken in 1995. Looking at individual fields, all professions except "designer" have consistently increased (See Figure 1-1-38 ).

Figure 1-1-38 Change in the Population of Artists by Field

In order to understand the situation of "artists" in more detail, by comparing the number of "artists" by age bracket to the number of all employed persons taken from 1995 census, the percentage of all employed persons peaked once in the 20-29 age group, and again in the 40-49 bracket. However, after reaching a peak between the ages of 25 and 29, the number of "artists" continues to decline as age rises (See Figure 1-1-39 ).

Figure 1-1-39 Number of Working Persons by Age

According to the "Survey Report on Performers' Activities and Lifestyles 2000" by the Japan Council of Performers' Organizations, it takes an average of 5.8 years from the point one begins working in the performing arts to the point where one can receive performance fees and teaching fees. On the other hand, according to the same survey, the average income for a performer in FY1998 was 4.77 million yen. Also, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs' "Opinion Survey on Artistic Activities" (2000), only 15.6% responded that they could make a living on "income derived from artistic activities alone," but 39.5% earn a living either with "income derived from both artistic activities and non-art-related activities" or "largely through family income." It is true that only a very small number of people are able to make a living purely through artistic activities alone (See Figure 1-1-40 ).

Figure 1-1-40 Artists' Livelihood

{2} Organizations

There are many different fields of culture, but in the field of performing arts a large number of activities are conducted by organizations, and in the field of fine arts there are many organizations devoted to public exhibitions. According to the "Survey Report on Performers' Activities and Lifestyles 2000," only 11% of people responded that they were "free" or "not affiliated with an organization or school."

It is difficult to survey the number of such organizations in Japan using a uniform standard, as the distinction between professional and amateur organizations is not clear, and the structure of organizations differs depending on the field. However, according to the Japan Council of Performers' Organizations' "Performing Arts White Paper 1999," of the performing arts-related organizations accounted for by the Japan Council of Performers' Organizations, there are approximately 3,400 theater troupes, 3,000 orchestras, 800 opera and dance groups, and 440 performing arts promotion groups. Furthermore, if fine arts organizations not accounted for in the survey are included, even more organizations can be assumed to exist.

Like artists, many of these organizations cannot be said to enjoy financial stability. According to the Agency for Cultural Affairs' "Opinion Survey on Artistic Activities" (2000), 88.0% of organizations responded that "profits were not comprised entirely of operations revenue," illustrating the severe financial circumstances of arts organizations. In the same survey, 73.0% of organizations cited "payments by members," 35.1% claimed "contributions from national and local governments and the private sector" and 33.8% cited "membership dues" as financial resources outside of operations revenue (See Figure 1-1-41 ).

Figure 1-1-41 Income Outside of Operations Income for Arts Organizations

(3) Cultivation of Human Resources to Support Cultural Activities

{1} Human Resources Cultivation in Arts Organizations

Today, human resources cultivation in the field of arts is borne primarily by arts organizations and their affiliated training schools, where practical instruction targeted at a wide range of age groups-including young artists, citizens, students, and children-is conducted.

Practical training in dramatic arts is conducted in theatre troupes and affiliated training facilities, but these "performing schools" or "acting schools" are primarily sponsored by performers and actors and strongly reflect their individual thinking. Training for dance is also generally conducted through ballet companies or affiliated ballet schools.

Artistic talent is often discovered through public exhibitions put on by various artistic organizations.

At the same time, it has been pointed out that human resources cultivation at individual arts organizations faces limitations in facilities and budget, due to a lack of training facilities, an overabundance of applicants for courses, and a short training period. Recently, general bodies such as associations or societies, using the experiences accumulated by individual arts organizations, have begun to conduct activities such as concerts and festivals in order to train young artists.

Traditional performing arts will also focus on cultivating successors through the traditional family system.

{2} Human Resources Cultivation in Cultural Facilities

As the cultivation of artists cannot be separated from the actual creative activities, cultural facilities such as theaters will play an important role in the cultivation of human resources.

The New National Theater, as a base for modern performing arts in Japan, is being called upon to play a role in the cultivation of world-class artists. As such, an opera training program opened at the New National Theater in April 1998. Every year, it accepts around five people who have completed a master's degree of the equivalent as students for three years of systematic instruction.

The National Theater accepts a number of people to each of the following activities in order to cultivate successors to Japan's traditional performing arts. Graduates comprise a considerable percentage of current performers.

Kabuki (2 years)

Acting, Kabuki music [Takemoto (Gidayu, shamisen), wind instruments, long epic songs (rhymes, shamisen)]

Bunraku (2 years)

Dayu, shamisen, and puppets

Popular Performing Arts (2 years)

Vaudeville and Kagura

Noh (6 years)

Three roles [Waki (supporting character), Hayashi (instrumentalists), Kyogen (comedic dialogue)]

The Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art Film Center has offered a training course in cinematography, art, and recording for film producers since FY1997.

Also, human resource cultivation activities such as seminars and workshops, particularly in fields like drama, are beginning to be seen at public cultural facilities.

A scene from the opera training program held at the New National Theatre, Tokyo

{3} Human Resources Cultivation by the Agency for Cultural Affairs

In addition to human resources cultivation at the National Theater and the New National Theater, the Agency for Cultural Affairs is promoting the establishment of conditions to indirectly provide support for human resources cultivation efforts at arts organizations.

First, it is implementing the following artistic fellowship programs in order to cultivate creative human resources which will lead the future artistic community in Japan.

Overseas Training for Artists

Dispatches young artists overseas and provides opportunities for practical training in specialized fields

Inviting Overseas Artists for Training

Invites young artists from overseas and provides opportunities for training in Japan and exchanges with Japanese artists

The Japan-U.S. Arts Fellowship

Invites young artists and dispatches artists for training in order to work towards mutual cultural exchange between Japan and the United States

Arts Internships

Provides training opportunities at training facilities in Japan for young artists

Also, as the opportunity to present the results of daily study and receive evaluations serves as additional momentum for budding young artists, the Agency for Cultural Affairs is providing artists who have completed training abroad the opportunity to present their results, and honoring their achievements. In addition, it is providing support to human resources cultivation efforts such as educational performances for new artists, competition for new talent, lectures, and workshops conducted by general organizations.

The results of overseas training of young artists-"Special Performance by the Musicians of Tomorrow"

{4} Human Resources Cultivation in School Education

School education, particularly institutions of higher education such as universities, plays an important role in the cultivation of artists. According to the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture's "School Basic Survey," as of May 1999, 54 arts-related departments had been established at universities, with an enrollment of approximately 610,000 students. In particular, specialized and systematic education was being conducted in 23 music departments and 9 fine arts departments, as well as a wide range of related departments. In addition, practical education such as stage techniques is underway at special training colleges. Furthermore, 115 upper secondary schools have established music- and arts-related courses.

On the other hand, fields such as theater and dance are not as popular, and according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs, as of May 1999, only five universities had established departments or courses providing specialized education in theater arts, and only three had done so for dance.

Although different for every field, the cultivation of artists at universities is done through systematic and organized education emphasizing both theory and practice. However, it does not necessarily provide human resources who can become active as artists immediately after graduation. In many cases, they affiliate themselves with the training facilities of arts organizations in order to further accumulate training experience.

Also, upper secondary schools are conducting education to serve as the basis for the cultivation of artists, such as specialized upper secondary schools which have established arts courses, as well as education presupposing entrance into either an arts-related university or a training facility of an arts organization upon graduation.

Through collaboration with universities, arts organizations, and theaters, school education is playing an increasingly proactive role in the cultivation of artists. It is also expected that further study will be conducted amongst relevant parties regarding human resources cultivation in universities in areas which are currently not fully developed.

Human Resources Cultivation Efforts in School Education (Kyoto University of Art and Design)

Kyoto University of Art and Design merged with the Kyoto College of Art in FY2000 to become a comprehensive university of the arts offering a total of 16 courses in seven departments, including new courses such as the Screen and Theater Arts Department and a Space Production Design Course. The University is expanding practical education with a staff of superior artists who are at the forefront of their respective activities. Mr. ICHIKAWA Ennosuke, a Kabuki actor, is also University Vice President; Mr. OTA Shogo, a playwright, is director of the Screen and Theater Arts Department; and Mr. HAYASHI Kaizo, a film director, is an instructor in the Screen and Theater Arts Department.

The purpose of the Screen and Theater Arts Department is to enable students to comprehensively experience screen representation and theater arts, and to produce human resources capable of creating new forms of expression. The theater arts course conducts education focusing not only on conventional forms of drama but also including video, dance, fine arts, music, and traditional drama.

In conjunction, there are plans to open the Kyoto Arts Theater, intended for everything from Kabuki to modern drama, on the University campus in the summer of 2001. This theater will contain the 950-seat Shunjuza Theater-with the same scale and facilities as the Minamiza Kabuki Theater in Kyoto-as well as the 200-seat Studio 21, which will produce modern drama and dance. The facility is expected not only to be used as a forum for students to present and appreciate drama, but also as a research facility for theater arts and as a place for cultural activities open to the public.

A class in the theater arts course (Kyoto University of Art and Design)

(4) Maintenance of Cultural Facilities

Public cultural facilities play an important role in the promotion of the arts by providing local residents with opportunities to appreciate theater arts such as music and drama, or fine arts, as well as by providing a forum for the presentation of their cultural activities (See Table 1-1-14 ).

Table 1-1-14 Change in the Number of Culture Halls, Libraries, Public Halls and Museums

Public culture halls which function as concert halls and theaters serve as a base for local cultural activities and play an important role in the enrichment and enhancement of the people's cultural activities. According to the "Social Education Survey" by the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (MESSC), the number of public culture halls established by local governments rose from 782 in FY1987 to 1,587 in FY1999. Also, the number of private cultural facilities reached 164 in FY1999, including such exceptional institutions as the Suntory Hall concert hall and the Bunkamura, a multipurpose facility for drama, music, and film (both in Tokyo). These private facilities are largely concentrated in urban areas.

Recently, in addition to conventional multipurpose culture halls, the establishment of field-specific facilities, such as exclusive-use concert halls and theaters, equipped with superior acoustics and stage facilities, is being promoted.

According to MESSC's "Social Education Survey," 27,930,824 people participated in 95,172 events (lectures, cultural activities, etc.) at culture halls during FY1998.

Art museums also play an important role in the promotion and spreading of local arts through the collection, exhibition, and preservation of artworks. As of 1999, there were 987 art museums.

Private art museums include such museums as the Setagaya Art Museum (Tokyo), the MOA Museum of Art (Shizuoka Prefecture) and the Ohara Museum of Art (Okayama Prefecture) which are known for their high-quality collections and active involvement in a number of projects.

Many art museums hold exhibitions in order to respond to the increased interest in the art of local residents, in addition to educational activities such as lectures and practical courses on art and gallery talks.

The types of individualistic museums have also increased as of late, including specialized museums for particular fields such as crafts or photography, art museums which primarily collect and exhibit the works of a particular artist, and art museums which have combined with other facilities such as concert halls and theaters.

Table 1-1-15 Number of Museums

While these types of art museums are increasing and diversifying, they are also facing several problems. The situation of public art museums in light of the economic downturn following the collapse of the bubble economy was touched upon in Section 1, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs' "Survey on the State of Art Museums and Museums" (1998), "lack of storage and exhibition space for the collection" and "inability to satisfactorily perform research and planning activities due to inadequate budget" were most often cited as issues regarding the operation of art museums (See Figure 1-1-42 ).

Figure 1-1-42 Opinions on the Operation of Museums

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