Artist Open Call

Nakanojo Biennale 2025 Artist Open Call

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The Nakanojo Biennale is an international contemporary art festival held every two years in Nakanojo Town, Gunma Prefecture. Surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery, Ramsar wetlands, hot spring villages with deep histories, sericulture, festivals, and traditional folk events, Nakanojo Town offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience beautiful satoyama culture that cannot be found anywhere else. Artists stay and work in this unique mountain village community and present their creations during the Nakanojo Biennale. For the tenth Nakanojo Biennale 2024, we are calling for a wide range of artists from Japan and abroad with innovative ideas and projects from various fields.

Director’s Message

We are pleased to announce the decision to hold the commemorative 10th Nakanojo Biennale 2025.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to everyone involved in the Nakanojo Biennale over the many years.

Nakanojo is a charming town not far from the city center, with a great deal of natural beauty, including areas designated under the Ramsar Convention, as well as picturesque hot spring resorts and historical buildings. In the Artist-in-Residence programs held in this area, artists have conducted research on various aspects of the local culture, nature, history, and climate. Deep connections have formed with the local people through this process, and the Nakanojo Biennale has become an indispensable part of the region. Although there is no art museum in Nakanojo Town, art is a common part of everyday life for the children who live here, and they enjoy workshops with artists in their classes, making it a valuable learning experience for them.

Our journey with the community has been challenging, facing many difficulties such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Coronavirus pandemic. However, artists' activities in the region have continued to progress forward since 2007. In recent years, the Nakanojo Biennale has led to an increase in the number of artists moving to Nakanojo, creating new opportunities for their activities and accelerating progress toward becoming a more creative region.

For the Nakanojo Biennale 2025, we are calling for a wide range of artists to connect, create and show together in this region that coexists with art.

Tetsuo Yamashige, General Director

Application Period:

Wednesday, May 8 - Monday, July 15, 2024
Online Application: 23:59 (UTC+9)
Mail Application: Postmarked on the envelope

Open Days of the art festival:

Saturday, September 13 - Monday, October 13, 2025 (National Holiday)

9:30 - 17:00
*Open every day for 31 days


At Gunma Prefecture, Nakanojo town.
Five areas of Nakanojo Town: Nakanojo Town Center, Isama, Shima Onsen, Sawatari Kuresaka, and Kuni. Venues include shopping streets, onsen towns, wooden school buildings, and old Japanese-style houses.

Nakanojo Area Map

What's on

What's on: Nakanojo Biennale started in 2007 and this art festival marks it’s 10th year. Everywhere in town, including nearby onsen towns and abandoned wooden school buildings, will host exhibitions of drawings, sculptures, photographs and installations from more than 100 artists. There will be opening and closing events, music and performances as well as workshops and a market.


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

Art and culture international exchange

Since 2007 Nakanojo Biennale has been encouraging cultural exchange between locals and artists, including international artists. Many artists have participated in traditional events or exchanged food cultures and I often hear they maintain a relationship as if they were family. Above all, I'm very happy the area has been so receptive and it seems like everyone is enjoying themselves.
Foreign artists have also moved to Nakanojo and it is giving more opportunities for people who live in mountain villages to interact with different cultures. It teaches us how we don't realise our unique local culture unless it's seen from an others perspective. Thus international art cultural exchanges play an important role in learning about our own culture.

At Pavilion Zero, which took place at Venezia Biennale 2013, we were given an opportunity to screen a film which shows how Nakanojo approaches art; Also Masumi Saito (based in London) presented a performance inspired by the traditional dance form Shishi-Mai(Lion dance). From this experience I realised again how beautiful the culture from Nakanoyo is and I found it necessary to protect and share this culture with many others.

Each time at the opening ceremony of Nakanojo Biennale we make a platform for local people and artists to collaborate. Performers are mainly local children and the music is played by local people who support the traditional music culture Gakudan (orchestra).
They collaborate in completely different genres such as Jazz and Gagaku (ancient court music), contemporary dance and Kagura (sacred dance).Participants enjoy more than the audience and make theatre together.This is a very fascinating approach, we carry on our traditions and the collaboration between local people and internationally acclaimed artists allows us all to discover new art forms.

In 2014 we visited the little town of Acelum in northern Italy which, like Nakanojo, is listed as one of "The most beautiful villages". We inspected how they introduce art and culture through art or film festivals to the mountain village life, alongside beautiful nature.
It is not as convenient as city life but life amongst beautiful scenery has many similarities to the mountain village culture in Gunma.

Nowadays there is a trend that culture is originating in rural areas instead of cities, which are loosing their character, and many tourists are visiting to take advantage of this. I would like to shine a spotlight on local festivals and unknown customs which have roots in local people's lives, and to introduce more of the beautiful culture which has been passed on by many generations, not only the tourist spots like nature and hot springs.

I hope the local area will be full of pride and Nakanojo's original culture will be passed on to the next generation because of the art and culture international exchange program.

Contact us

Office of Nakanojo Biennale
TEL: +81-279-75-3320 (Japanese only, during weekday from 9:30a.m. to 5p.m. UTC+9 )
Address: 〒377-0432 (Postcoode)
Gunma-ken, Agatsuma-gun, Nakanojo-machi, Gotanda 3534-4 Japan