A message from the Nakanojo Biennale director
The new coronavirus is still raging across the world. As a result, artists face challenges of fewer exhibitions and creative opportunities. It’s difficult to predict how the situation will unfold a year from now. Still, we decided to continue making preparations, so this place for artist’s activities will not be lost. We sincerely hope the world will rise together again.
Artist Open Call
The Nakanojo Biennale is an international art festival held in Nakanojo town, in the Gunma prefecture. The diverse landscape features magnificent mountains, Ramsar sites, and hot spring villages. Distinct geography and climate weave together with sericulture, folk events, and traditional festivals to form a beautiful mountain culture. We are looking for artists with innovative ideas and projects from multiple disciplines for the 8th Nakanojo Biennale 2021.
- Monday, May 1 - Wednesday, July 15, 2020
*Postmarked on the envelope by Wednesday, July 15, 2020, if applying by mail.
- Open Days of
the art festival:
- Saturday, September 11 - Monday, October 11, 2021 (National Holiday)
*open every day for 31 days
- Five areas of Nakanojo Town: Nakanojo Isemachi, Isama, Shima Onsen, Sawatari Kuresaka, and Kuni. Venues include shopping streets, onsen towns, wooden school buildings, and old Japanese-style houses.
Previous Locations: The Central Shopping District, Isama Studio, Shima Onsen, Akaiwa Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, and more.
- Exhibition Period: 31 days
Participating Artists: 150 (including groups)
Locations: 47 places
Number of Visitors: 390,000 people (accumulating totals)
Material allowance: 50,000 yen (for each one group)
Application Rules and Requirements
・We are open to all genres, including sculpture, painting, photography, video art, installation, and performance. New applicants are welcome.
・We accept both individuals and artist groups. As a group, the application process is the same as with individual artists, but we will only contact the group's representative. Changing the number of members won't be allowed after you apply, so please ensure you include all the members.
・Artists can contact the Office of Nakanojo Biennale via email.
・The artwork must be installed and removed by each artist according to the dates on the schedule.
*If the artist lives overseas and can't remove the artwork by themselves, please arrange with DHL to collect the artwork.
・The artwork must be installed by the deadline.
*Depending on the location, there will be different deadlines for installing artwork.
・Orientation dates are September 5 - 6, or September 12 - 13, 2020.
* Because of the outbreak of COVID-19, the orientation is open only for artists residing in Japan. Please click here for details
・No exhibition charges
・Material allowance will be given after the exhibition
Please check the residence schedule below
・Artist in Residence Nakanojo is free of charge and will be open from April 3 to August 21, 2021.
・The residence is available for participants only. Friends or family are not allowed to stay.
Nakanojo, Isemachi and Nakuta
Nakanojo and Isemachi are the town center and the most populated area in Nakanojo. Nearby public facilities include restaurants, bars, a supermarket, and convenient stores. The Museum of Folk and History, Musée, has a great collection of artifacts from the district. Compared to other areas, Nakuta is flat and wide open because of the agricultural lands, where you can see small-scale rice terraces. The main venue is an old wooden school, and 7-eleven is within walking distance. Nakuta is a 20-minute drive from the town center.
Sawatari and Kuresaka
Sawatari is a quiet, onsen town located between Nakanojo town center and Shima. It's small and less touristy than Shima and has many hills, slopes, and alleys. There is a small public bathhouse that locals use every day. Kuresaka is a 20-minute drive down a winding road from Sawatari. Surrounded by mountains, it is the most hidden area in Nakanojo. The main venue is the garden, where outdoor installations are popular. A monument of the famous writer and poet, Bokusui Wakayama, is at Kuresaka pass.
Isama is in the mountains, and houses are dotted throughout the area. The mountain, Reizan Takeyama, and the beautiful Chikato Shrine are symbols of Isama. Reizan Takeyama is believed to be sacred by locals and has excellent day hikes. Isama was declared as one of “the most beautiful villages in Japan.” The Biennale headquarters and one of the main artist residence buildings are in the area. Isama is a 15-minute drive from the town center.
Shima has an 800-year-old history and is the most touristic area in Nakanojo because of the onsen (hot springs). Surrounded by nature, a beautiful river and streams cross the town. Historic onsen streets are full of tourists, but once you leave the main road, it’s quiet and relaxing. The famous color of water, “Shima Blue,” can be seen at Shima lake. Shima is a 30-minute drive from the town center.
Kuni is the most isolated area in Nakanojo with no shops but a lot of nature. Akaiwa is a district within Kuni that has silk farmer’s houses and a historic street filled with traditional Japanese residences. Akaiwa was the first site in the Gunma prefecture designated for preservation and historical importance. The Oshi train station, now a ruined structure, is a symbolic site of the area. Kuni has a welcoming atmosphere by the locals and was declared as one of “the most beautiful villages in Japan.” Next to Kuni is Kusatsu, one of Japan’s most famous onsen towns. Kuni is about a 50-minute drive from the Nakanojo town center.
Every term except long term will have a reception on the last day, and we recommend that you attend.
Venues from previous Nakanojo Biennale exhibitions included: former wooden elementary schools, historical houses, silk farmhouses, gymnasiums, abandoned private houses, and shops.
Notes and Artist's responsibilities:
■We will take safety measures against COVID-19 for the orientation and the residences. However, due to the circumstance of COVID-19, the schedule may change. Please visit this webpage for the latest information.
■You are responsible for your expenses, including food, transportation, and the making, installing, and removal of the artwork.
■There won't be assistants or technical staff at all venues, so you must be responsible for making, installing, and removing your work.
・You are responsible for cleaning your exhibition space before and after your installation.
・Ensure your artwork is safe for our guests. We won't exhibit potentially dangerous work.
・Please install artwork in a way that’s not easily stolen or removable.
・Please install artwork that will not become moldy. The venues become humid during the festival.
・We won't allow artists to make structural alterations or tamper with electric wring without permission.
■Please understand and consent that images or data of your artwork, your face, and likeness, or your personal history may be used for advertising on the website or mass media, not only by the Executive Committee of the Nakanojo Biennale but possibly by other media outlets.
■The artwork must not infringe on any copyright or intellectual property rights.
■We aim to bring artists and local people together at the Nakanojo Biennale.
Please have a spirit of respect for each other.
【 By Mail 】
Please send a portfolio, conforming with the guidelines below, to the secretariat of the Nakanojo Biennale, Postmarked by Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
・The portfolio size must be A4 and within 20 pages for individual artists, and 30 pages for a group.
・Please download and print the application form. Fill out the information and attach it to the first page of your portfolio. Click here to download PDF
・A DVD or an SD card can accompany your portfolio, but note we will mainly review the portfolio.
*Please send a photocopied portfolio because the original will not be returned.
*We will keep your personal data private, and it won't use it for other purposes.
The Office of Nakanojo Biennale
〒377-0494 (Postal Code)
Gunma-ken, Agatsuma-gun, Nakanojo-machi, Nakanojo-machi 1091 Japan
TEL: ＋81-279-75-8848 (Japanese only, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. UTC+9)
*Please write “Portfolio enclosed” on the envelope.
【 By website 】
Please apply through the website until 24:00 (UTC+9), on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, according to the guidelines.
Individual artists or artist groups can send either a website or a PDF portfolio to apply. You may also send both.
2. The application review and results notice
Results will be sent in early August by post to local applicants and by email to overseas applicants.
3. Orientation for successful candidates
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the orientation is only open for artists residing in Japan. If you are a resident of a foreign country, please watch the video orientation online.
Orientation dates: September 5 - 6 or September 12 - 13, 2020
We are going to Nakanojo areas on September 5th and 12th, and the Kuni areas on September 6th and 13th for the preliminary inspection. We will explain the details of the schedule after you receive the results.
For artists who are residing in Japan:
If you are a first-time participant, you must attend yourself. We will present important documents and information about your participation in the Nakanojo Biennale.
* In special circumstances, we will allow a recognized representative to join the orientation instead of the artist. If this is the case, please contact us in advance.
** We can arrange accommodations if needed. Please contact us in advance.
For overseas artists:
We will provide an online video orientation and documents with important information at a later date. We will update information about this online orientation as soon as possible.
4. Submission of your plan and requested location
Submission Deadline: Sunday, October 11, 2020
Submit your request for your preferred venue, along with your plan. We will provide the request form at a later date.
We can arrange for artists to revisit a location if necessary.
We try to place artists based upon their request and plan. However, please understand your request may not be met, because of the popularity of the location or difficult logistics.
The Artist location request and plan will be coordinated by the middle of November, and then we will inform the artists.
5. The selection of participants
Once your venue is confirmed, you become an official participant artist of the Nakanojo Biennale festival.
If the alternative venue we offer doesn't match your plan, we may decline your participation.
Once confirmed as an official participant artist, you can begin work or research in Nakanojo in April 2020.
|The application and decision schedule|
|1. Application deadline:||July 15, 2020, by mail (postmarked) or online by 24:00, UTC+9.|
|2. Results notice:||Results will be sent by mail or email in early August 2020.|
|3. Orientation dates:||September 5 - 6, or September 12 - 13, 2020.
* You must attend if you are a first-time participant. The orientation is optional for experienced participants.
* The orientation is available only for residents in Japan
|4. Submission of your location request and work plan:||The deadline is October 11, 2020.
* We will provide the request form at a later date.
* The Artist location request and plan will be coordinated by the middle of November, and then we will inform the artists.
|5. The selection of participants||After accepting the offered venue from the Nakanojo Biennale office, the artist becomes an official participant.|
Access to Nakanojo Station from Tokyo Station
Car: About 2.5 hours by highway
Train: About 3 hours by local train
Train: About 2 hours from *Ueno Station by express train
Bus: About 3 hours from Tokyo Station or **Shinjuku Bus Terminal (BASTA)
*Ueno Station is one stop from Tokyo Station
**Shinjuku Bus Terminal is 15 minutes by train from Tokyo Station
Access to Tokyo Station from the Airport
- Haneda airport to Tokyo Station - 30 minutes by train
- Narita airport to Tokyo Station - 1.5 hours by bus or train