Japan and France jointly organize an extensive cultural season to showcase the unrevealed beauty of Japanese culture in Paris, the capital of art, and other cities in France. In the 19th century, “Japonism” spread rapidly after ukiyo-e and other aspects of Japanese culture were introduced to France, having great influence on artists such as van Gogh and Claude Monet. In 2018, the 160 years of friendship between Japan and France, Japonism is gaining popularity once again, inspired by the creativity of modern day Japan, which still has the power to surprise and attract.
It fills me with immense pride that the 160 years of friendship between Japan and France will be commemorated by Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance, an unprecedented celebration of Japanese culture that will unfold across France starting in July. For eight months, Japan’s finest culture will be showcased in Paris, the city of art, and other parts of the country on an epic, all-embracing scale. This grand event represents the Government of Japan’s largest endeavor to share Japanese culture with the world, a flagship project for making culture a pillar of our country’s diplomatic engagement.
France is endowed with some of the world’s greatest arts and culture, and the people of Japan have long been enchanted by the inspired creations of legends such as Monet, Rodin, and Hugo. Japan, too, is home to a rich array of arts and culture handed down for centuries, and it was our desire to have the French people partake of this heritage that we organized Japonismes 2018 as a bouquet of Japanese culture that will burst into blossom across France, presenting everything from the simple beauty of ancient Jomon pottery to contemporary art employing cutting-edge technologies.
The July opening will feature “FUKAMI–une plongée dans l’esthétique japonaise,” an introductory exhibition that will provide fresh insights into the world of Japanese aesthetics. Conceived by Masahiko Tsugawa, a cinematic artist and champion of Japonismes 2018, this exhibition will use an innovative approach to explore the Japanese sense of beauty, from Jomon to the contemporary. Autumn will bring “Jakuchū, Colorful Realm of Living Beings,” Europe’s first major exhibition of works by 18th century painter Ito Jakuchu, who has recently seen a resurgence of popularity in his homeland. Also on the fall calendar is the Shochiku Company’s Kabuki production in Paris, headlined by Nakamura Shido II and Nakamura Shichinosuke II, two of the troupe’s brightest stars and leaders of the next generation of Kabuki actors. The production, which marks both actors’ first time to perform in the French capital, will allow audiences to fully savor the magic of Kabuki through two classics—Kasane, a tragic yet stylistically exquisite tale of two lovers, and Narukami, a quintessential example of the stunningly dynamic aragoto form of acting.
All sorts of other events are also planned to take visitors on an exciting journey through Japanese culture, including opportunities to experience diverse local festivals and epicurean pleasures like saké and tea. Though France has many affinities with Japanese culture and cuisine, we are certain that Japonismes 2018 will delight everyone with new surprises and discoveries.
The name Japonismes harks back to the wave of Japanese culture that swept across France in the 19th century and spurred French artists to pursue new avenues of creativity. As seen in Hokusai’s influence on Debussy’s La mer and the paintings of van Gogh and Monet, Japan and France share les âmes en resonance, souls that resonate with each other.
We expect that many Japanese will travel to France this year to witness how their culture will be celebrated by Japonismes 2018, and that French attendees will be inspired to venture to Japan to experience our culture in its home setting. It is our wish that this landmark event will help Japanese and French souls to resonate even more deeply here in the 21st century, and will encourage the creation of new culture and broader interaction between the people of both countries.
I warmly thank the many individuals and organizations in Japan and France that worked hard to bring Japonismes 2018 to reality, and I fervently hope that culture-driven cooperation between our two nations will strengthen our bonds and enrich Japan’s partnership with Europe in the years ahead as the resonating spirits of Japan and France spread their wings and travel across the globe.
President of the French Republic
It is a great pleasure and an immense honour for France to host Japonismes 2018, the most significant series of Japanese cultural events to be organised outside of Japan itself. This is a key event for the two countries, the reflection of our long-lasting friendship, the mutual fascination we have for each other, and the ambition to renew our dialogues in order to meet the challenges of our time.
2018 is a highly symbolic year. It marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Meiji period, a time when Japan looked towards modernity and opened up to the West. It is also the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Finally, in 2018, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Paul Claudel, one of France’s greatest ambassadors to Japan in the 20th century and who played an extremely important role in cultivating our admiration for each other.
There were many events that encouraged Japan and the West to encounter and contributed to the Japonism movement ; this passion for all things Japanese characterized the 19th century. We have so many reasons to celebrate our bilateral relationship today, by focusing on the movement that Japan has chosen to revisit almost one and a half centuries later.
Japan has a culture of global influence. It influenced the most famous French avant-gardes, and although our societies have changed profoundly today, its creators continue to fuel the enthusiasm of new generations. Driven by an endless quest for originality, French public and artists regard the contemporary Japan as an eternal source of inspiration and innovation.
The Japonismes 2018 program is the product of these exchanges between the two countries. From Kabuki performance to the paintings of Léonard Foujita, to Sambaso dance and Tadao Ando’s architecture, all the richness of Japanese creation will be represented in some of the most prestigious French cultural venues. France is committed to partnering Japan in this adventure, Japonismes 2018, and to sharing the excellence of its expertise in order to ensure the success of this initiative. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the cultural institutions in Paris and other regions, who have opened their doors to share the wealth and diversity of the Japanese artistic scene with the French public.
This cooperation reflects the strength and dynamism of our bilateral relationship, and I sincerely hope that our efforts will bear fruit well beyond Japonismes 2018, allowing us to develop our renewed friendship for the next 160 years and more.
Official Program and Associate Program
“Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance” introduces many different forms of art and culture through an official program of events such as exhibitions and stage performances nearly 100 venues in Paris and other locations during an 8-month period. The diversity of Japanese culture will be introduced through presentations ranging from works of the ancient Jomon period that is the origin of Japanese culture, Ito Jakuchu, and Rinpa School painting; to the latest media arts, animation, and comics; as well as Kabuki, contemporary drama, and Hatsune Miku performances. There will also be opportunities to participate in cultural exchange programs with themes taken from everyday Japanese life, including cuisine and traditional regional festivals.
In advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, people in Paris and all over the world will be able to discover the fascination of Japanese culture in various aspects. The Japonismes 2018 Official Program is accompanied by the Japonismes 2018 Associate Program, which recognizes other Japan-related events organized in France in line with the aim of Japonismes 2018. The Associate Program enables an even broader audience to enjoy Japonismes 2018, communicating Japanese culture more widely.
In May 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President François Hollande agreed to hold “Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance” as a means to showcase Japanese art and culture outside Japan. Since then, Japan and France have worked together to bring the program to France, a nation that has its own rich culture, and has long maintained an interest in the culture of Japan.
The title “Japonismes 2018: les âmes en resonance” represents two messages. The first is the respect for nature and appreciation for harmony between different values, the foundation for many aspects of Japanese culture during its long history. Japanese people have always assimilated ideas from the outside world, finding resonances and integrating the ideas into their own culture. In doing so, a new and distinct culture emerged. We will introduce the sense of beauty unique to Japanese culture, in which beauty transcends right and wrong and exists in a higher place where different values coexist.
The second message represents the shared sensibilities the Japanese and French have for art and culture. The two countries are now working to expand the circle of resonance worldwide in the hope that it can contribute to addressing the issues that the global community faces in the 21st century.