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“DEEP JAPAN” Exhibit on Seto Inland Sea Has Opened at Kansai International Airport


The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan is holding a new initiative called the “Japanese cultural media arts dissemination initiative in airports and other institutions” for inbound tourists.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan is holding a new initiative called the “Japanese cultural media arts dissemination initiative in airports and other institutions” for inbound tourists (Graphic: Business Wire)

The Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan is holding a new initiative called the “Japanese cultural media arts dissemination initiative in airports and other institutions” for inbound tourists (Graphic: Business Wire)

Overview of Exhibition at Kansai International Airport

Date & Time:

(Phase 1) Sunday, February 16 to Tuesday, March 31, the second year of Reiwa (2020)

(Phase 2) Early March to March 31, the second year of Reiwa (2020)


Kansai International Airport (Izumisano City, Osaka) Terminal 1 International Arrival Lobby North-South Corridor (Phase 1)

JR Kansai-Airport Station (Phase 2)


New media art by artists MANABE Daito and NAKAYAMA Akiko and creative producer UKAWA Naohiro on the theme of the Seto Inland Sea, exhibited in the north-south corridor of Kansai International Airport Terminal 1's International Arrival Lobby (Phase 1), and media art by Okayama Art Summit artist Ryan Gander and creative producer NASU Taro exhibited in JR Kansai-Airport Station (Phase 2)

Official website:

A media arts exhibit entitled “DEEP JAPAN” on the theme of the Seto Inland Sea has begun at Kansai International Airport and JR Kansai-Airport Station on Sunday, February 16, 2020.

“DEEP JAPAN” is taking place over two periods in two locations.

Phase 1 features a piece by MANABE Daito of Rhizomatiks Research entitled “phase” in the approximately 570-meter south corridor of Terminal 1's International Arrival Lobby and NAKAYAMA Akiko's “Whirlpool Art” in the approximately 400-meter north corridor of the lobby, both produced by UKAWA Naohiro, from February 16. “phase” is a new piece that visualizes data generated from the waves of Seto Inland Sea as well as international flight arrival times, while “Whirlpool Art” is a new live painting performance piece inspired by the Naruto whirlpools.

Phase 2 features “Imagineering” by Ryan Gander, an artist at Okayama Art Summit 2016, produced by the 2019 summit's executive director NASU Taro, in JR Kansai-Airport Station. Furthermore, a panel exhibition in cooperation with Setouchi DMO invites visitors from overseas to the Setouchi area's diverse tour destinations.

This encounter with cutting-edge media arts will convey new Japanese cultural insights and appeal to tourists in Japan.

The Agency for Cultural Affairs is hosting the “Japan Media Arts Distributed Museum” that will be deployed in 10 Japanese airports sequentially as part of a new project called the “Japanese cultural media arts dissemination initiative in airports and other institutions.”

The artists and creators featured in this exhibition capture the cultural resources borne out of various local cultures through fresh perspectives in places like airports, which serve as gateways to these regions. By showcasing the works of media arts, we invite visitors to explore the true spirit of these cultures throughout their travels.

Kansai International Airport Exhibition Summary

Theme: Setouchi Area

The Setouchi area, which includes the beautiful Seto Inland Sea, is a region rich in nature exceeding 900,000 hectares and containing 727 islands. It became Japan's first national park in 1934. Home to numerous world heritage sites like Itsukushima Shrine and nationally-designated historic streetscapes as represented by the city of Kurashiki, it is a treasure house of cultural resources. For visitors from overseas, it is a place through which to thoroughly get to know Japan, from its little-known unique scenery to its historically-significant buildings and ornaments.

Seto Inland Sea was central to ancient Japan's sea routes. As an important transit route for envoys to Tang China, the Yamato Imperial Court built harbors, and Shogun Taira no Kiyomori developed these routes for trade with the Song dynasty during the Heian period. Shipping through the Seto Inland Sea reached its peak during the Edo period. In this way, it has carried a variety of people and goods inside and outside of Japan for thousands of years, accumulating various important cultural assets along the way. In addition, the large number of islands cause tides to change severely in places, leading to the development of the ports as sailors waited for the tides to turn, making it a truly unique ocean area. Now, Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay, the easternmost point of that area, serves as a key gateway connecting Setouchi to the world.
The Setouchi area is also host to world-famous art festivals like Okayama Art Summit and Setouchi Triennale, to which many visitors come from Europe and North America to enjoy the fusion of modern art and the region's nature. Awaji Island, Seto Inland Sea's largest island, is a place of Japanese legend overflowing with cultural significance. According to Japan's oldest historical record, the Naruto Strait is where a god thrust a spear into the sea and stirred it to bring the very first shape to a world of chaos. Even the Naruto whirlpools drawn by KATSUSHIKA Hokusai are art produced by nature. The massive eddies that rise up from the sea floor to its surface are breathtaking spectacles for all who visit. Shodo Island, the second-largest island, is famous for its contribution to Japanese food culture with its olive groves and soy sauce production. It is also historically significant for the former quarry that produced the stones for the walls of Osaka Castle. One can run from Onomichi along the Shimanami Kaido while enjoying the salty sea breeze, and experience Japanese cuisine while imagining the generations and generations of people through the ages who have done precisely the same. Ogijima, a valuable island that has preserved its lifestyle of old and is also home to a large number of cats, and Chichibugahama Beach, which gleams like the mirror surface of Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia, are also in the Setouchi area. The culture of the Setouchi area has developed through the countless travels of people back and forth, and thus offers the chance to peer into the deep, deep history of Japanese culture.

Exhibition: “DEEP JAPAN”

A “sky gateway museum” that combines media arts into a new Japanese cultural history
Creative producer: UKAWA Naohiro (DOMMUNE)

An airport is just what the name implies – a port of the air, a gateway to the sky.

This floor is indeed a gateway for cultural interaction with different countries and regions, and even a kind of cloister where people who have literally crossed borders are thrown together. So in this hub of human activity, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, whose mission is to stimulate international cultural exchange, is showing the world a new initiative that crossfades Japan's historic cultural resources into cutting-edge media arts. Yes, this is the concept of the distributed museum that installs media artwork mixing regional culture and their stories in airports around the country. This initiative lets participating international airports take the lead in collaborating with artists to create “sky gateway museums” in an aim to encourage the increasing number of inbound tourists to stay longer and connect with other regions, strengthening the foundation of Japan tourism and catalyzing media art. Kansai International Airport's version is like a dancefloor, matching the beat of the most avant-garde applied technology (media art) to the rare grooves of Japan's historic cultural resources. And its name is Japan Media Arts Distributed Museum: Deep Japan!

The artists' pieces unveiled here, which mix images of Seto Inland Sea with a variety of media, represent a search for the universal potential of historic chance encounters with media arts. A read of history reveals that in any era, new media and novel technological inventions are merely tools in the hands of creators. For example, rock art and cave murals, the Nazca Lines and pyramids, and Jomon pottery and keyhole-shaped tumuli can be interpreted as media art from mythical ancient times, but even from long ago, media and technology have never been more than tools to bring imagination to life. Now, in the age of industry 4.0, we have conceptualized museums at the gateways to the sky as a new Japanese cultural history. We have also drawn an alternative future of revitalization for rural Japan and used an international airport as the stage for a completely new type of media art.

The first piece is by Rhizomatiks Research and Daito Manabe, 314 LED lights installed in the approximately 570-meter corridor running parallel to the runway. The LED lighting patterns are generated from Seto Inland Sea wave data as well as data from the timetable of international flights arriving at Kansai International Airport. It links the wave cycle of Seto Inland Sea, praised by many Westerners including German physician and botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold for its picturesque scenery, with the record of visitors to Japan from overseas, synchronizing traveler activity with environmental change in Setouchi.

NAKAYAMA Akiko's piece is a fusing of the Naruto Strait with her distinct style of flowing colors depicting change over time. According to Japan's oldest historical record, the Naruto Strait is where a god thrust a spear into the sea and stirred it to bring the very first shape to a world of chaos, and this artwork, made of colors inhabiting a single moment, stands alongside the imagery, poetry, performance, and other media through which storytellers have told of this legendary place for a thousand years.

Japan Media Arts Distributed Museum: Deep Japan is the intersection of technology and history, media and tourism, art and tradition! It is the concept of museums at the gateways to the sky that combine media arts into a new Japanese cultural history. As all of these composition elements are mixed together in the airport to form a completely new network of hubs, each airport becomes a node in this modern distributed museum. And this time, the museum features two leading Japanese artist teams!



Tokyo-based artist, interaction designer, programmer, and DJ. He established Rhizomatiks in 2006 and then the R&D-heavy project-focused Rhizomatiks Research in 2015 with ISHIBASHI Motoi.

He creates artwork by reconceptualizing familiar phenomena and materials from new perspectives and in new combinations. Instead of going for high-resolution, highly realistic, rich expression, he focuses on phenomena only discovered through careful observation, the inherent attractiveness of bodies, programming, and computers, and the relations and boundaries between analog and digital, real and virtual, as he works in the domains of design, art, and entertainment.

His broad range of collaborations include the likes of SAKAMOTO Ryuichi, Bjork, OK GO, Nosaj Thing, Squarepusher, Andrea Battistoni, NOMURA Mansai, Perfume, and Sakanaction as well as the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics in Manchester, England, and CERN.
He has received many awards both at home and abroad, including the Ars Electronica Distinction Award, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Titanium Grand Prix, D&AD Black Pencil, and Japan Media Arts Festival Grand Prize.


Graduated from Tokyo Zokei University's Department of Fine Arts with a major in painting in 2012 and a master's in art research in 2014. She creates living paintings using color and flowing energy to react a variety of materials with each other.

As shown by her continually-transforming “Alive Painting” series or the “Still Life” series that visualizes and solidifies the filtration process of the former's run-off, she is continuously producing strongly performative paintings. Her dynamically-changing artwork harmonizing various media and colors are almost like extemporaneous poetry. Viewers are led into this poetic landscape by projecting into it themselves, living things, nature, and more. In her solo exhibitions, she uses sound as “invisible paint” , touching on space and emotion through her painting. In recent years she has appeared at TEDxHaneda, DLECTRICITY Art Festival (Detroit), a solo performance at NEW ARS ELECTRONICA (Austria), Biennale Nemo (Paris), LAB30 Media Art Festival (Augsburg), TECHNARTE art + technology (Bilbao), MUTEK Montreal, and more.

Creative producer:


Born in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, in 1968. Identified as a “current artist”, instead of a contemporary artist. As a filmmaker, graphic designer, VJ, writer, university professor, he has engaged in a wide range of extremely diverse activities since the late eighties. Since participating in the “Buzz Club: News from Japan” (MoMA PS1, New York) and “JAM: Tokyo-London” (Barbican Art Gallary, London) in 2001, his work has been featured in exhibitions around the world. In 2010, he founded DOMMUNE, Japan’s first live streaming channel/studio. DOMMUNE has built “satellite studio” pieces at contemporary art exhibitions in London, Dortmund, Stockholm, Paris, Mumbai, Linz, Fukushima, Yamaguchi, Osaka, Kagawa, Akita, and Sapporo. In 2019, “DOMMUNE SETOUCHI” was presented at the Setouchi Triennale. DOMMUNE has created over 5000 shows (7000 hours, 150 terabytes worth of programming) viewed by over 100 million people in the past 10 years. The studio moved to the 9th floor of Shibuya PARCO in 2019, and transformed into SUPER DOMMUNE, updating content to evolve with and anticipate the technologies of the post-5G future.


Ryan Gander

Born in Chester, England, in 1976. Currently active in London and Suffolk. A driver of the new-generation conceptual art scene, he is known for artwork that turns familiar, everyday objects into universal concepts. In Japan, he has had numerous solo exhibitions at national art museums such as “Icarus falling – An exhibition lost” (Maison Hermès, Tokyo, 2011), “You have my words” (Dazaifu Tenman-gu, Fukuoka, 2011), and “These wings aren't for flying” (The National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2017). He has also participated in major international exhibitions such as the 54th Venice Biennale (Venice, 2011), documenta (13) (Kassel, 2012), Okayama Art Summit (Okayama, 2016), and Sydney Biennale (2018), garnering high praise both inside and outside of Japan. In January 2021 he will have a solo exhibition at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery.

Creative producer:


Born in Okayama in 1966. Graduated from Waseda University. After working in Tenmaya's art division, he opened the modern art gallery TARO NASU in Tokyo in 1998. He has collaborated with many art museums and other public institutions in Japan and overseas. In 2016, he established Art & Public, a company mainly engaged in art consulting. Now, he works to popularize modern art, serving as art advisor for “Imagineering Okayama Art Project” (2014) and executive director for Okayama Art Summit 2016 and 2019.

Okayama Art Summit

The Summit is an international modern art exhibition held every three years in the city of Okayama. For Okayama Art Summit 2019 (the second summit), the artistic director was French artist Pierre Huyghe, and it was held over two months from September 27 to November 24, 2019, in Okayama Castle and various other historic cultural venues around Okayama Korakuen. Entitled “IF THE SNAKE”, it featured 18 artist groups from nine countries selected from around the world. In 2019, Asia Art Pioneer, which recognizes Asian groups, artists, programs, and exhibitions that contributed to the global art scene, awarded it Public Art Project of the Year.

Okayama Art Summit 2019


Friday, September 27 to Sunday, November 24, 2019 (51 days)


Okayama Art Summit Executive Committee (Okayama City, Ishikawa Foundation, Okayama Prefecture)


OMORI Masao (Mayor of Okayama City)

Executive producer:

ISHIKAWA Yasuharu (President of Ishikawa Foundation, President of Stripe International Inc.)

Executive director:

NASU Taro (Representative Director of Art & Public)

Artistic director:

Pierre Huyghe (Artist)

Public program director:

KINOSHITA Chieko (Associate Professor, Osaka University Co-Creation Bureau's Office for Society-University Co-Creation)

Setouchi DMO

DMO (Destination Management/Marketing Organization) conducts an integrated management of the entire region by vitalizing the tourist destinations. The Setouchi DMO consists of The Inland Sea, SETOUCHI Tourism Authority, which plans and carries out tourism marketing promotion, and the Setouchi Brand Corporation Inc. that supports tourism product development by utilizing the Setouchi Kanko Kasseika Fund. Making the most of the broad and varied tourism resources of Setouchi, the Setouchi DMO, together with relevant parties, conducts information dissemination, promoting activities, effective marketing and strategy formulation, and encourages the local tourism-related business operators to develop tourist destinations.

Overview of Exhibition at Kansai International Airport (Details)

Date & Time:

(Phase 1) Sunday, February 16 to Tuesday, March 31, the second year of Reiwa (2020)

(Phase 2) Early March to March 31, the second year or Reiwa (2020)


(Phase 1) Kansai International Airport (Izumisano City, Osaka) Terminal 1 International Arrival Lobby North-South Corridor

(Phase 2) JR Kansai-Airport Station


(Phase 1) MANABE Daito, NAKAYAMA Akiko

(Phase 2) Ryan Gander

Creative producers:

(Phase 1) UKAWA Naohiro

(Phase 2) NASU Taro


Setouchi DMO

Ishikawa Foundation

West Japan Railway Company

Kansai Airports


Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan

“Japanese cultural media arts dissemination initiative in airports and other institutions in the first year of Reiwa”

Contact information

Yukinori Aoki
Japan Media Arts Distributed Museum Office PR Team

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