Supporting Japan’s Cultural Heritage

The Nippon Foundation believes that Japan’s rich cultural heritage, with a history of more than 2,000 years, can not only cultivate a sense of identity in Japanese people, but also holds the possibility for providing a diverse sense of values to society.

The Importance of Japanese Culture

This diagram shows the phases of social value from traditional culture at each stage of popularization and development. Examples for the familiarization and contact phase include providing venues where anyone can come into contact with culture and revitalizing and maintaining local symbols like shrines and temples. This instills pride in one’s region and country. The phase of passing on traditional culture and having it take root includes promoting social engagement through events like local festivals, and using traditional culture to give people who have various difficulties a sense of inclusion in the local community. These activities create, strengthen, and vitalize community unity. The next phase is to develop existing traditional culture and create new culture. This could include the use of superb technologies developed through traditional arts in other products, market development through integration with new culture, and the development of markets in regions that have been left behind because of their geography. These activities develop markets and lead to the acquisition of foreign goods, and as they take root they become new cultures that instill a sense of pride.
Traditional culture has social value at each stage of popularization and development

With the belief that a broad range of frameworks and support are needed to realize all of the possibilities presented by traditional culture, The Nippon Foundation supports traditional culture in a variety of ways, including the development of human resources in areas related to traditional culture and promoting the popularization of traditional culture among children.
Going forward, we will work proactively to build on these activities with a focus on creating new traditional culture and instilling a sense of pride in the next generation, leading to the creation of a sense of identity.

The Nippon Foundation’s activities to date

The Nippon Foundation is working to create familiarity with traditional culture (instilling pride in one’s country and local region), to pass on that culture and help it take root (creating, strengthening, and vitalizing community unity), and building on this to create new culture (developing markets and acquiring foreign goods).

[Instilling pride in one’s country and local region]

The Sengukan Museum at Ise Shrine explains the shrine’s rebuilding every 20 years

Contact and familiarity with traditional arts and culture, and firmly rooted traditions, give us a sense of attachment to our country and local region, and can instill a sense of pride in being Japanese.
The Foundation’s proactive efforts to convey Japanese culture have included support for the construction of the Kongoh Nohgakudou, a Noh theatre in Kyoto, and the Sengukan Museum at Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. We have also provided tools and equipment needed for activities that carry on traditional arts in local communities across Japan.

We will continue to provide support that is recognized as being highly effective by focusing on projects that for whatever reason have difficulty receiving assistance from the government or local organizations.

Total outlays: 1,453,236,000 yen (as of August 2016)


Human resource development related to traditional culture

  • Cultivation of successors: 37,565,000 yen (11 projects)
  • Cultivation of storytellers: 11,797,000 yen (6 projects)

Preservation of traditional cultural assets

  • Provision of tools and equipment: 80,350,000 yen (37 projects)
  • Repairs of buildings and structures: 513,500,000 yen (7 projects)

Popularizing traditional culture among children

  • Events: 343,604,000 yen (97 projects)
  • Special events for children with disabilities: 11,620,000 yen (3 projects)

Construction and repairs of traditional culture facilities: 454,800,000 yen (6 projects)

[Creation, strengthening, and vitalization of community unity]

The Kamaishi Tiger Dance went on despite the Great East Japan Earthquake

Activities that pass down traditions to the next generation, that cause culture to become firmly rooted in a local community, and that instill culture in the persons who will pass on that culture give local communities a strong sense of unity, and this vitalizes communities.

Total outlays: 1,966,570,635 yen (as of August 2016)


Community development: 11,458,000 yen (8 projects)

Activities to popularize traditional culture

  • Events: 342,708,000 yen (34 projects)
  • Digitization and creation of digital archives: 23,000,000 yen (2 projects)

Support related to the Great East Japan Earthquake (Traditional Arts Relief Fund): 1,589,404,635 yen (approx. 165 projects)

[Market development / Acquisition of foreign goods]

Outdoor Bunraku puppet theater performance at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo

It is not enough to simply pass on traditions. Flexible initiatives, like integration with new culture, the development of markets that previously did not exist, and the acquisition of foreign goods, hold the potential to create new culture. This becomes new Japanese culture, and we believe this creates a sense of attachment to one’s own local region and country.

Outlays: 376,325,000 yen (as of August 2016)


Nippon Bunraku Project (third year): 315,074,000 yen

Iroha Nihon – Experience the Soul of Japan: 61,251,000 yen