Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future

Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future


  • January 26, 2021
    We released the video archive of ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future press conference. check here
  • October 26, 2020
    ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future will be open on April 29, 2021!
  • October 26, 2020
    We opened our teaser site.


In the spring of 2021, the Executive Committee for the Culture City of East Asia in Kitakyushu 2020 (Chair: Kenji Kitahashi, Mayor of Kitakyushu City) will hold ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future in the Higashida district of Kitakyushu's Yahatahigashi Ward. The festival will run for eleven days, from April 29 to May 9, 2021.

ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future is built on the idea that art can attract attention to a sustainable future society and propose a better future through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Kitakyushu prospered as a gateway to Asia and a hub for international exchange thanks to its prime geographical location, producing many important cultural figures throughout Japan's history. Today the city is home to several cultural facilities and museums, and the local government has presented a city-wide initiative to promote culture and the arts. The city has also made the most of experiences such as overcoming pollution and has conducted countless international technical cooperation and urban exchange with cities across Asia to foster dialogue not only between governments but also grassroots exchange between individuals and communities.

The Higashida district is home to World Heritage sites such as the former head office of Japan's Imperial Steel Works, which contributed to the nation's rapid modernization from the end of the Edo period and into the Meiji era. With the scheduled opening of a new shopping mall and science museum that combine entertainment and commerce on the former site of Space World in 2022, Kitakyushu City is also working toward fulfilling a global SDG challenge as it enters a new phase in its urban development.

This art festival hopes to offer the world a better vision for the future by highlighting the varied expressions of contemporary Japanese artists, who continue to reinvent Japan's rich aesthetic tradition cultivated over its long history. Kitakyushu City, a manufacturing center that aims to become the world's foremost environmental city, is the perfect place for such an ambitious endeavor. The festival will be a beacon of sustainable development and exchange through innovation in a society that is stagnating in the wake of COVID-19.

Dates: April 29 - May 9, 2021
*Exhibition at Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History & Human History will be open until May 30, 2021.
Exhibition at Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art will be open until July 11, 2021.


In 2018, Kitakyushu City was desinated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a "SDGs Pilot Model City", the first city in Asia to be selected as an official promoter of the SDGs. At ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future, we aim to visualize the goals of the SDGs through art and present a forward-looking vision for a new way of life after COVID-19.

Since ancient times, Japan has elevated a love of nature and an eco-friendly way of life to an aesthetic that can be found in the traditional themes of natural beauty in Japanese art and the design of Japanese gardens. These nature motifs of Japanese influence, termed Japonaiserie by Vincent van Gogh, swept through Europe in the 19th century. This simple yet notable feature of Japanese aesthetics can make significant contributions in building a more sustainable world—the very goal of the SDGs—advocating for a better natural environment and a poverty-free society of equality and diversity.

That is why this art festival introduces such a wide variety of art: art made from waste materials, art related to nature and medicine, art that expresses the diversity in society, and art that applies cutting-edge technology. Together, they will form the first art festival of its kind. The festival aims to transcend conventional boundaries in art to build a new platform for learning and entertainment. Our goal is to leave a lasting creative legacy in the local community by eliciting new works related to other fields such as science and technology, nature, public welfare, and sports.

To achieve sustainable development, we must reconcile three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. This art festival attempts to propose, through art, a better future for society by promoting a new way of thinking that would encourage a new way of life.

Fumio NANJO, Director


  • Akari-Lisa ISHII
    Akari-Lisa ISHII
    Japonismes 2018 The special Light-Up
  • Akihito OKUNAKA
    Akihito OKUNAKA
    Kizugawa Art 2018
    Photo by Tadashi Hayashi © Akihito Okunaka
    in the water #001
    2019 © Mari Katayama
  • Yoichi OCHIAI
    Yoichi OCHIAI
    Colloidal Display
    KENPOKU ART 2016
  • Ryuta AOKI
    Keio SFC Hiroya Tanaka Lab. + METACITY (Ryuta AOKI)
    Fabrick Beehive
    2015© Keio SFC Hiroya Tanaka Lab.
  • Eiki DANZUKA
    Eiki DANZUKA
    Medical Herbman Cafe Project
  • Yodogawa Technique
    Yodogawa Technique
    Chinu, the Black Sea Bream of Uno
    Courtesy of the artist and YUKARI ART
  • Ei WADA
    Ei WADA
    Iron Island Electromanetic Band
    Ei Wada + Nicos Orchest-Lab.
    Photo by Mao Yamamoto

*Above are those who currently confirmed to participate in the festival. More participating artists and information will be announced later. Images are for reference only.

Special Contents

Collaboration Project

Kyungilu Chung, an art manager based in Kitakyushu, is planning collaborative projects that include the production and exhibition of interactive community artworks at Kitakyushu Environment Museum and performances along Higashida Oodoori Park. During the festival, cultural facilities and companies will carry out SDGs-themed initiatives and events throughout the city.


  • Higashida Oodoori Park
    Higashida Oodoori Park
    Higashida Odori Park is located on the former site of the Kitakyushu Expo-Festival 2001. Built as a manifestation of a low-carbon footprint in urban development, the park was designed with an awareness of the connection between living things, people, and greenery. As a public space, it incorporates the latest technologies, such as a naturally cooling bioswale that allows rainwater to permeate the soil and evaporate over time; fruit trees that attract birds; and a water fountain where dragonflies can thrive. The park will feature large-scale symbolic artworks on sustainability and host community-based art projects for citizens to join.
  • Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History
    Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History
    The Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History is one of the largest museums of human and natural history in western Japan, all based around one central concept: the journey of life. The museum features an impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons and an animatronic dinosaur diorama that allows visitors to experience firsthand creatures from a primeval world. From a wealth of valuable historical materials, visitors can also learn about major shifts throughout human history. The museum will keep you learning and having fun all day long. The museum is currently planning a large-scale solo exhibition in collaboration with Yoichi Ochiai.
  • Higashida Blast Furnace 1
    Higashida Blast Furnace 1
    Completed in 1901, Higashida Blast Furnace 1 was built as Japan's first modern steel mill. The current furnace is the tenth generation, built on the site where the first blast furnace sat. The whole area is maintained as an important historical site with related materials on display. An art installation using the latest technology and the hydrogen energy is slated for the festival to produce a dynamic spectacle of light.
  • Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery
    Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery & Studio
    Kitakyushu Innovation Gallery & Studio provides opportunities for visitors to learn about and experience the manufacturing technologies and innovations that have driven Japan's development since the end of the 19th century. There will be an exhibition of works by artists using cutting-edge technologies in addition to workshops and talks.
    *The venue will be closed for one year from April 2021 due to renovations. After renovations finish, it will reopen as an annex to the new science museum.
  • Kitakyushu Environment Museum
    Kitakyushu Environment Museum
    The Kitakyushu Environment Museum was built using the pavilion from the Kitakyushu Expo-Festival 2001 as an environmental education facility with a three-fold mission: education, information, and environmental activities. Here visitors can learn about Kitakyushu's historical struggle overcoming pollution and discover ways of becoming more eco-friendly in their everyday lives. An exhibition of collaborative community-based art projects is being planned for the festival.
  • Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
    Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
    The Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art was established in 1974 as a landmark located in the city's geographical center. The museum has an impressive and thoroughly symmetrical entrance, with two distinctive geometric "tubes" jutting out from atop a hill. The structure is one of the early masterpieces of Arata Isozaki, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2019. The museum has a diverse collection of works that represent modern and contemporary art in Japan and abroad. We will present a group exhibition entitled "The Path to Diversity." We select artworks that suggest the realization of a diverse and inclusive society for this exhibition.

*For access to Kitakyushu City, please click here

About SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of international goals for building a sustainable and better world by 2030, as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the United Nations Summit in September 2015 as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which first launched in 2001. It consists of 17 goals and 169 targets with the pledge to "leave no one behind" on planet Earth. Kitakyushu boasts a significant role in Japan's modernization at the end of the 19th century, with a resourceful population that applied their knowledge and skills to overcome difficulties along the way. Having been selected as the first "SDGs Pilot Model City" in Asia by the OECD in 2018, Kitakyushu continues to take on new challenges as a global SDGs leader.


Culture City of East Asia 2020 Kitakyushu Executive Committee

Chair: Kenji KITAHASHI, Mayor of Kitakyushu City



Fumio NANJO (Curator)

Graduated from Faculty of Economics and Faculty of Letters (Philosophy, Aesthetics & Science of Arts), Keio University
Senior Advisor of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo/Representative Director of N&A Inc.
Nanjo formerly served as Mori Art Museum's Deputy Director and Director, after working for prominent cultural organizations such as the Japan Foundation, ICA Nagoya as the Director.
He took artistic directorship of numerous important art festivals, including the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1997), the Taipei Biennale (1998), the Yokohama Triennale (2001), the Singapore Biennale (2006 & 2008), and KENPOKU ART (2016).

Publications include: From Art to the City, a Record of 15 Years as an Independent Curator (1997), Asian Contemporary Art Report: China, India, Middle East and Japan (2010) and A Life with Art (2012).


[Inquiry about the festival]
City of Kitakyushu
Culture City of East Asia Promotion Office
1-1 Jonai, Kokurakita, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka, 803-8501
TEL +81 (0)93-582-2390 / FAX +81 (0)93-582-5755

[Press Inquiry]
ART for SDGs: Kitakyushu Art Festival Imagining Our Future PR Office (N&A Inc.)
3-11-15 Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0072
TEL +81 (0)3-6261-5784 / FAX +81 (0)3-6369-3596
E-MAIL (Weekdays: 10:00-17:00)
Press Release