Japanese cultural celebration marks opening of Detroit Institute of Arts’ new Japanese art gallery

Nov. 4 and 5 opening events include master artists and dancers from Japan, demonstrations and more


Ed. Note: Image: Three dolls by Master Fujimura


October 9, 2017 (Detroit)—A major Japanese cultural celebration takes place at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Nov. 4 and 5 to mark the opening of the museum’s new gallery of Japanese art. In addition to enjoying the new gallery, visitors can take part in a variety of activities that they would otherwise have to go to Japan to experience. Most of the programs are free with museum admission, which is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, but there is a fee for the artist workshops.


The Japan Cultural Days are sponsored by Japanese Business Society of Detroit (JBSD) Foundation, Toyota, Denso, Detroit Aisin Group Companies, Toyoda Gosei North American Corporation and Toyota Tsusho America Inc., Delta Airlines, Nissan North America, Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.


Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5

Japanese Master Artist Booths, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Great Hall

Visit with seven Japanese master artists as they present their crafts throughout the weekend.

  • Master Kawakami creates textile designs on tenugui, a special Japanese towel. 
  • Master Yokoya demonstrates traditional woodcarving. 
  • Master Hayashi makes uniquely dyed textiles. 
  • Master Kinoshita shows beautiful ceramic pottery. 
  • Master Fujimura presents stunning Japanese Edo dolls. 
  • Masters Kano, a husband and wife team, create handmade, colorful Washi paper. 

Visitors will be able to purchase works by the master artists on site. Cash and credit cards are accepted.


Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5

ARTIST WORKSHOPS, Studio, $25 per workshop; pre-registration required.

Tie Dyeing with Master Setsuko Hayashi, 11 a.m.­–12:30 p.m.

Master Hayashi shows examples of her Shibori products featuring special, shape-resist dyeing techniques, called Itajime-Shibori, then demonstrates and teaches the techniques to the class. Each participant tie dyes a provided 11 x 60 in. white silk scarf, taking home a one-of-a-kind creation. To register, go to http://bit.ly/tiedyeingclass


Washi Paper Making with Masters Tomomi & Hisashi Kano, 1:15–2:45 p.m.

Masters Kano teach the background, use, purposes and environmental factors of Washi paper, then show participants how to make their own using either traditional or modern tools. Students go home with the Japanese Washi paper they created. To register, go to http://bit.ly/washiclass


Master Kinoshita’s Pottery, 3:30–5 p.m.

Master Kinoshita shows the process for his uniquely styled ceramic pieces. He then demonstrates and teaches participants how to use a potter’s wheel, presenting hands-on techniques that allow students to make their own ceramic bowls. Bowls will be properly fired and available for pick up at a later date. Note: The Saturday workshop focuses on hand-building, and Sunday’s on the potter’s wheel. To register, go to https://www.dia.org/kinoshita

TALKS, Lecture Hall unless otherwise noted

Saturday, Nov. 4

Doll Making, Master and Disciple: Teacher Relations, 1–2 p.m.

Master Fujimura talks about his experiences as an apprentice in doll making and what the future holds for apprenticeships in the craft.


Celebration of Life: Ceramic Art of Tomoko Konno, 3–4 p.m.

Japanese ceramic artist Tomoko Konno enjoys giving her ceramics new life through inspiration from all kinds of natural organisms. In this dialogue with Natsu Oyobe, curator of Asian Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Konno discusses the ideas and processes behind her fascinating work. This program is sponsored by the DIA Friends of Asian Arts and Cultures.


Sunday, Nov. 5

Tale of Tenugui, 1–2 p.m.

Master Kawakami discusses his design and painting work as part of tenugui (a thin Japanese hand towel) making. He also talks about the history of tenugui, how it was first made and how it reflects the Edo era (1603–1868) and people’s lives during that time.



Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5

Kikuno-kai Japanese Dancers: Awa Odori Parade, 4:30–5 p.m.

Awa Odori is Japan’s largest dance festival, traditionally held in August in Tokushima Prefecture. Choreographed dancers and musicians dance, sing and chant as they parade through the streets. In Rivera Court, the Kikuno-kai dancers, wearing traditional costumes, perform a shortened version of these dances, and audience participation is welcome!


Saturday, Nov. 4

Bonote Martial Arts Demonstration, 10:30–11:10 a.m., 1-1:40 p.m., 3:10–3:50 p.m., Rivera Court

Bonote, meaning “hand with stick,” is a form of martial arts developed about 460 years ago in Japan’s feudal era. Samurai Lord Nobunaga Oda transformed the farmers of his land into the most fearsome warriors using only spears and sticks. As feudal times ended, the art of Bonote was preserved and passed down to younger generations through demonstrations, both regionally in Japan and abroad.


Karuta: Waka Lecture and Game Demonstration, 11:50–12:30 p.m.

Karuta is a Japanese card-matching game. A traditional Japanese poem (waka) is written on one set of cards, the Yomifuda, and only the last few lines of the same poem is written on the other, the torifuda. Players try to grab the right torifuda card to match the yomifuda card before their opponents do. Players will discuss waka poetry, the history and uses of the game and demonstrate how it is played.


Sunday, November 5

Bonote Martial Arts Demonstration, 12:20–1 p.m. & 3:10–3:50 p.m.

(see Nov. 4 for description)


Karuta: Waka Lecture and Game Demonstration, 11–11:40 a.m., 1:50–2:30 p.m.

(see Nov. for description)


FILMS AND PERFORMANCES, Detroit Film Theatre Auditorium

Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5

Japanese Kikuno-kai Dance Troupe, 11 a.m.–noon, 2:40–3:40 p.m.

Specializing in Japanese classic and folk dances, Kikuno-kai was founded in 1972 by the late Michiyo Hata, a professional dancer best known for her choreography in the 1988 Oscar-winning Japanese film Dreams. She founded the troupe to show the beauty of Japanese dancing wherever it could be presented—in Japan and abroad. Kikuno-kai focuses on the fundamentals of Japanese dance while striving to foster emerging artists and create pieces that befit the times. Their show features a variety of traditional and local favorites. 


Japanese Animated Film: Kimi no Na Wa, 12:20–2:20 p.m.

Translated as “Your Name,” Kimi no Na Wa follows a teenage boy and girl living two separate lives but with a strange connection: one morning they awake to find their lives have switched, and they must learn to communicate and change their world. As their lives intertwine, the pair continues moving forward hoping that one day, they will meet. Japan’s top film of 2016 has been described as “the country’s most stunning anime ever” by Variety magazine. In Japanese with English subtitles.



Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 5

Japanese Sweets, 10:15–10:55 a.m., 1–1:40 p.m., 3:45–4:25 p.m.

Japanese Pastry Chefs Motohiro Inaba and Rio Asano have traveled the world working in sweets and pastry shops and opened their own sweet shop in Tokyo called Wagashi Asobi, where they combine modern flavors with traditional Japanese recipes. They demonstrate a simple, handmade dessert “chick” that the audience can also make. The demonstration is accompanied by a performance by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensemble.


Shiga Live Performance: Japanese Teatime, 11:15 a.m.–11:45 p.m., 12:15–12:45 p.m., 2–2:30 p.m.; 3–3:30 p.m.

Shiga’s tea masters serve several Omi-brand teas, and perform “Japanese Traditional Teatime and Quiz Show” to participants.

Museum Hours and Admission

9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays–Thursdays, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. General admission (excludes ticketed exhibitions) is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents and DIA members. For all others, $14 for adults, $9 for seniors ages 62+, $8 for college students, $6 for ages 6–17. For membership information, call 313-833-7971.

Media Kits

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.