Japanese Arts Foundation
Chicago, IL
About us
Since 2016

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

Taiko Legacy 17, 12/20

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.

Ikigai Indoors, 12/5

The Japanese Arts Foundation and Japanese Culture Center invite you to join Ikigai Indoors, a live festival highlighting Japanese arts and artists in Chicagoland teaching the vast community at home.

This afternoon will explore the theme of ikigai /生き甲斐. “Iki” (to live) and “gai” (reason) describes the pleasures and meanings for life. We hope to inspire discovery of how Japanese arts and culture can bring joy and meaning at home when we need it most.

Ikigai Indoors will air live across social media platforms featuring various Japanese arts and cultural traditions thriving in Chicago. This event will also give everyone the opportunity to ask questions in real time, and even join the arts they are seeing if they choose, finding their own ikigai at home.

We hope you will join us in this meaningful event that introduces Japanese arts and culture to those at home, and inspire everyone to find their own ikigai in Chicago. This program is generously supported by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, and will be streamed live by Tokyo House Party.

Our work
Artist Residencies
藤間 淑之丞 Yoshinojo Fujima

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

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.

About the program

The JAF also supports an artist in residence program where artists can explore community driven projects, and pass their knowledge on to others.

Creative Classes and Workshops

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.

Educational Programs

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.

Festivals and Conventions

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

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.

Our Sponsors
Thank you どうもありがとうございます

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.

Contact Facebook Instagram Email: info@japaneseartsfoundation.org Phone: +1 773-525-3141