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Art and culture industry in Japan - statistics & facts

Japanese culture comprises an expansive variety of historical art on the one hand and contemporary pop culture such as manga or anime on the other. The stereotypical historical Japanese visual and performing arts were mostly created apart from European influences before and during the period of national isolation (1639-1854). Modern Japanese art is often a blend of influences of traditional arts as well as influences of European art that were introduced during the westernization movement in the Meiji Era (1868-1912). Manga, for example, is said to have originated from an admixture of the Japanese ukiyo-e and European caricature. The Anime industry has dominated the market in recent years in terms of revenue. However, various other types of visual and performing arts nonetheless have a steady presence in modern Japanese society.

Cultural heritage

Traditional arts still carry significant weight in Japan, especially in craft skills and entertainment. Crafts such as lacquerwares, ceramic art, and Japanese paper have been passed down from one generation to the other and assisted in regional industrial structures. Traditional entertainment, such as the court music gagaku which relies on ancient Japanese musical instruments are performed in shrines and temples as well as ceremonial occasions at the Imperial Household Agency. Kabuki, which was popularized in the 1700s, is performed in the form of drama or dance performances in theaters across the country and attracts large audiences. The cultivation of successors and the passing of skills is a crucial issue for all “living” traditional arts. To ensure the transmission of traditions and protect cultural heritage, the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan provides multiple funds for education, qualification, and apprenticeships.

Art and culture promotion

The Agency for Cultural Affairs, which was formed as a subsidiary body of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) in 1968, is responsible for arts and culture-related measures and promotion in Japan. In 2019, the expenditure on cultural projects of the agency amounted to around 117 billion Japanese yen, which was 0.12 percent of the total annual spending of the government. This culture-related expenditure is, however, lower compared to the culture promotion budget of other countries. South Korea, for example, allocated over 1.1 percent of its spending on art and culture in the same year. The Agency for Cultural Affairs was preparing for an increase in the annual budget to meet the demand of both domestic and international tourists stemming from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The effect of the Olympics postponement on the art and culture industry is yet to be seen. The coronavirus (COVID-19) also impacted the art, culture, and entertainment industry negatively as most events were canceled or postponed. Museums were also completely shut for more than three months from the end of February 2020. Consequently, the market faces a significant downturn in 2020 from the previous year.

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Art and culture industry in Japan

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