U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program

For most of the last century, exchange between the United States and Japan was motivated mostly by commercial and political considerations whose goals were to open markets and facilitate the international flow of material goods. The political climate of both countries fluctuated to accommodate, preserve, and when necessary, protect the material well-being of each nation. However important these exchanges are, a saturation point has been reached in exchange based purely on political/economic considerations. New priorities are needed that recognize the importance of the exchange of intangible thoughts, knowledge, art and personal experience from one culture to another.

Nothing is as meaningful and influential as exchanges that take place between artists. Perhaps not readily noticeable or quantifiable in terms of material benefits, artistic impulses which travel from one culture to another mature slowly within the individual artist, and the result is that society as a whole benefits.

Since 1978, the Japan-US Friendship Commission (JUSFC), with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, has worked together with the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan and the International House of Japan to organize the US-Japan Creative Artists’ Program. Each year five leading US-based artists, representing all genres, are selected from the United States and provided funds to spend three to five months in Japan. This residency program allows the artists to research and experience both the traditional and contemporary artistic milieu of Japan. Artists are free to live anywhere in the country to pursue activities of greatest relevance to their creative process. While many artists chose to remain in Tokyo, others live in Kyoto or other cities, and still others work in rural settings or travel around the countryside. While artists are predominantly on their own upon their arrival in Tokyo, The International House of Japan provides orientation materials, expert advice and professional contacts, as well as logistical support during the residency period.

The program, which remains a high priority for the JUSFC, is highly competitive and attracts several hundred applications each year. To date, over 200 American artists, representing a diverse range of disciplines, have been selected to travel to Japan for this residency.

The International House of Japan acts as the point of entry for those artists sent by the JUSFC to Japan and employs arts experts whose function are to assist the artists and provide them with information, services and the appropriate care necessary for the effective pursuit of their Japanese residency.

Information on the application proceedures for this grant can be found on the JUSFC web site:

  • http://www.jusfc.gov