The Japanese Arts Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates inclusive and equitable opportunity, education, and support of Japanese arts thriving in Chicago’s diverse community and beyond. The JAF celebrates the multitude of voices in our community exploring and expanding Japanese arts and culture.
The JAF supports this mission by hosting unique programs and open educational opportunities that share Japanese art equitably and accessibly, while highlighting our diverse community of artists, thinkers, and makers. If you would like to support these efforts, please consider donating
The Japanese Art Foundation and Culture Center in partnership with the Chicago Park District, Tsukasa Taiko and Shubukai invite you to the inaugural BON Fest Chicago. Join us virtually Saturday, July 31st at 8:00pm for taiko drumming, bon odori dancing, and festivities in Chicago’s historical Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park. The BON Fest Chicago is entirely virtual this year, but will expand to welcome everyone in the years to come!
An Obon Matsuri / Bon Festival is traditionally held in the peak heat of summer when space between the natural and the supernatural world is thinnest. This is a time when individuals come together to remember ancestors and those lost as a community. As we continue to process the tremendous loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome our community to come together through the arts. Traditionally, Bon Odori dancing is performed by those in attendance to welcome spirits, though each community and region has their own style of dance and music.
The night begins with global guests sharing their local Obon Festival traditions, memories, and community. Guests include Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago Kenichi Okada, Fujima Kimiei of Shizuoka, Japan, Atsushi Koike of Mitsuwa, Arlington Heights, Melody Takata of Tsukasa Taiko San Francisco, and more!
We then stream from the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park at dusk with Tsukasa Taiko performances, and Bon Odori dancing by Shubukai that you can join remotely from home! This FREE event will stream to the Japanese Arts Foundation Twitch channel where we will be live chatting with everyone!
Shubukai is honored to collaborate with Kimiei Fujima Sensei from Shizuoka, Japan and Ageha Bijou Sensei from the Nihon Bon Odori Association to learn four bon odori: Shizuoka Meguri, Shizuoka Ondo, Tanko Bushi, and Tokyo Ondo.
Kimiei Fujima Sensei began learning classical Japanese Dance from age three, and has attained her stage name and grandmaster license in the Fujima Style. Her teacher, Shu-ei Fujima, taught the bon odori for the Shizuoka Obon Festival and after her passing, Kimiei Sensei has carried on the teaching for the Bon odori Festival, the Shizuoka Festival, and the Fujieda Festival.
Ageha Bijo Sensei is the main ambassador for the Nihon Bon-odori Association, whose mission is to try and popularize the Bon-odori Dances which exist throughout Japan; not limited to where each dance originated, but nationally as well as throughout the world to promote community activation and strengthening intergenerational harmony. They also collaborate and perform with the Nihon Minyo (folksong) Society, local tourist organizations, cultural preservation groups, and with various businesses and organizations (e.g. Cool Japan, NHK) to promote Bon-odori culture. (check out their Facebook page @BonOdoriJapan)
Bon Odori is made for people to come together and express their joy, respect, and feeling of community; to feel a connection with their ancestors and with everyone. One does not have to be a professional dancer, the dances are simple and fun.
Join the virtual class and learn with Yoshinojo Fujima and Ikunojo Fujima of Shubukai!
Asian Improv aRts Midwest presents the 17th-anniversary presentation of the annual Taiko Legacy concert. This year, the stage will pivot to a world premiere livestream performance from the Edlis Neeson Theater at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The special program will feature youth and adult community ensemble members alongside National Gintenkai Project performers and Chicago creative musicians. Directed by multi-instrumentalist and media artist Tatsu Aoki, Taiko Legacy 17 marks Tsukasa Taiko’s 24th-year journey since the inception of the group in 1996.
This event will be hosted and live streamed by Tokyo House Party.
Hekiun Oda is a Grandmaster, or "Shihan", Japanese Calligraphy Artist in the Genshin Kai school of shodō or Japanese calligraphy. From Kobe, Japan, Oda has been practicing shodō since he was 5 years old, and uses this art to inspire others to see its beauty by both teaching and creating. After living in Chicago, Illinois for the last 31 years, Oda teaches shodō to a diverse community who may or may not speak Japanese. Through shodō, Oda hopes both his students and those who view his art understand the expression in the brushstrokes, and the feelings he creates through them. In addition to practicing classical shodō art, Oda creates stunning and performative avant-garde style shodō using a custom-made 5 foot Kumano Fude brush composed of white horse tail.
Oda has received many awards for his work including the Japan America Society Cultural Achievement award, the Best Artwork Award at the Genshin Kai exhibition, and Excellent Work Award at the Hyogo prefecture calligraphy exhibition. Oda is also known for his artistic collaborations across mediums, including those with traditional Japanese dancer Yoshinojo Fujima of Shubukai. He has participated in various local exhibitions and public works at institutions such as the Japanese Culture Center of Chicago, Uniqlo, JCAT New York, McHenry County College, Japanese Arts Foundation Links Hall, and the Hairpin Arts Center among others.
Yoshinojo Fujima (aka Rika Lin)is “shin-nisei”, part of the postwar Japanese American diaspora. She is an interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, and Grandmaster in Fujima style Japanese classical dance. She has performed her original works and as part of many collaborations at Links Hall, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), where she premiered her full-length work Asobi: Playing within Time in 2018. A core member of the organization Asian Improv aRts Midwest, she promotes identity and tradition through performance as well as her teaching practice in Japanese classical dance.
Currently pursuing projects as a High Concept Labs Fellow (2020-2021), she is recipient of a John D. and Susan P. Diekman Fellowship Djerassi Resident Artist (2019), has received residencies at Ragdale Foundation (2019) and High Concept Labs (2018), a Links Hall Artistic Associate Curatorial Resident, 3Arts Make a Wave artist, and Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist (2017.) Yoshinojo’s curated series “Beyond the Box”, launched in 2017, centers on female performers and creatives. Her own dance investigations alter the traditional pedagogy of Japanese dance with humor and subtle transgressions by way of questioning ideas of role and identity.
Mami Takahashi is a Japanese multidisciplinary artist and a scholar working at multiple cities including Portland, Chicago and Tokyo. She received her MFA in Contemporary Studio Practice from Portland State University in 2013 and earned a BFA in Japanese Painting from Joshibi University of Art and Design in Japan. For more details, visit https://mamitakahashi.art/
With ongoing artistic research, practice, and teaching, Takahashi explores different approaches to actualize Japanese aesthetics to enhance cultural perspectives to many U.S. communities. At JAF, she is expanding her creativity to incorporate more specific discourses around society, past and present via a lens of Japanese art. Takahashi also aims to connect between Japan and communities in Chicago by teaching traditional and modern art-making techniques.
The JAF also supports an artist in residence program where artists can explore community driven projects, and pass their knowledge on to others.
This spring we were honored to host renowned artist, Mami Takahashi, as she led our students in Japanese Woodblock printmaking techniques. Students learned to chisel a design into linoleum blocks, and create their own postcard-sized print to take home.
This class introduced students to Ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock prints produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries. Known for dynamic compositions and color gradations, Ukiyo-e’s influence on both major artists of the western canon such as Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh were explored alongside traditional and current Japanese artists revisiting the techniques and practices.
The Japanese Arts Foundation is pleased to partner with Chicago Public Schools to offer field trips and summer programs to children of various ages in CPS districts. Workshops are based on the needs and interests of each visiting class, but past examples have included demonstrations and instruction in traditional Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu), Japanese paper folding (origami), and self-defensive martial arts (Aikido).
The Japanese Arts Foundation was proud to host a Kimono Exhibit in partnership with the Japanese Culture Center, featuring Nakashima Sensei’s collection of kimono and artwork.
Nakashima Sensei was the second woman ever to receive The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays award. This is the highest honor given outside the Imperial family. The Emperor of Japan personally presented her with this award in Tokyo for her tireless efforts and dedication to promoting Japanese arts and culture.
Several kimono from the collection were displayed, as well as sumi-e (ink wash painting) art from Patricia Larkin-Green Sensei. Ms. Larkin Green has won many awards for her work including the prestigious “Award of Excellence” from the Jade Buddha Temple, LaioNing Province in AnShan City, China several years in a row. Patricia’s work has been the subject of solo and two-person exhibitions in the United States and has exhibited throughout the United States, and in Australia, China, and Japan.
Thanks to donors of the JAF and donations from attendees, we were happy to offer this event free to the public.
In 2019, we celebrated the 3rd annual Japanese Matsuri at Chicago’s New City Plaza in Lincoln Park.
Hosted in partnership with Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya and the Japanese Culture Center, the Japanese Arts Foundation was proud to offer this summer festival where guests could experience authentic Japanese festival foods, cultural performances of Taiko (drumming), large scale Shodo (calligraphy), Traditional Martial Arts(Aikido and Iaido), Sumi-e (ink painting), Cosplay Contests and so much more!
Interactive Japanese cultural booths were held throughout the festival featuring origami, games, arts, fashion, skincare, handwritten calligraphy requests, photo booths, and much more.
Tokyo House Party is a monthly livestreamed night of Japanese art and culture. Tokyo House Party is always free, and trust us - you’re invited. The party is open to conversation, and we chat in real time with your questions and thoughts as you share them. The party goes live at 6pm CDT here, or on our Twitch channel. You can find us/subscribe to our channel on tokyohouseparty.com.
The Japanese Arts Foundation is supported by the generous contributions of corporate, foundation, and individual donors sharing our mission to create inclusive and equitable opportunity, education, and support of Japanese arts thriving in Chicago’s diverse community and beyond.
The Japanese Arts Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.