• General Director

    Choji Nakahodo


    Born in 1959 on Ishigaki Island, he has been creative in several fields in Okinawa since his twenties. From 2017, he has been the general director of the “Yanbaru Art Festival” and started his activities as an earnest artist. He is engaged in free expression activities regardless of genres, including photography, design, video, and calligraphy, with the theme of archaic beauty and color sense of Ryukyu and Okinawa. His principal works are “Suderu ~ Hara Ryukyu’s Metamorphose ~” (Yanbaru Art Festival 2018-2019), “Suderu Umarekawaru” (Kyoto International Film Festival 2019 Art Division), Island Cat Movie “Nyaha!” (2018), and more. He is currently making a documentary film on the theme of nature and life on Iriomote Island (scheduled for release in 2021).

    The scenic former Ogimi Village Shioya Elementary School is the main venue of the Yanbaru Art Festival, held three times since 2017. The first year introduced art to Yanbaru (Yanbaru Nihakobune), while the second year’s theme was “Yanbaru Renaissance,” focusing on an artistic revolution in Yanbaru. The third-year event extolled the “Richness of Nature in Yanbaru,” resulting in the creation of the image of the forest guardianship by art (Yanbaru Kogane no Mori). “What I have consistently cherished is the primordial power that lives in the land of Yanbaru, which is born from the activities of people and nature. The keyword is rejuvenation and the relationship with the region. It’s an attitude of ‘creating no art.’ This year, the fourth festival is at a major turning point for humankind, but we would like to make this festival an opportunity to ‘visit the old and know the new.’ Where do you plant the seeds you have sown in the past? How do you grow the seeds you have sown? Of course, we literally hand them over and carefully plant them by hand. Still, because of the current digital, virtual, and remote era, I would like to try a new generation in the art innovation that makes us feel in synchrony while staying in a remote location.”

  • Art Director

    Mitsuo Shindo


    Born in 1948 in Tokyo and working as an art director, video director, and photographer at a design office and advertising production company, he became independent in 1977. In the mid-1980s, he founded Contemporary Productions (until 2011). He has produced more than 1,000CD jackets for many leading musicians in the Japanese music scene, including Yumi Matsutoya, Pichikart Five, Mr. Children, and MISIA. He also directs music videos and commercials for companies and also works as a calligrapher on the side.

    About Main Visual

    “I feel that Okinawa’s color is red, but I think it is because Okinawa used to have a lot of trade with China and was greatly influenced by Chinese culture.
    Many of the structures are also bright red, and Shurijo Castle was a symbol. (Actually, it was red for good luck.) Now, the Shurijo Castle is about to be rebuilt. Still, I feel that rebuilding the bright red Shurijo Castle, which is called the heart of Okinawa, will also lead to the development of the ‘Yanbaru Art Festival’ in the future.
    This time, the primary visual is the Ryukyu classical musician Haruka Oyakawa in the center, aiming at the seasonal feeling and graphical accent of a red umbrella.”

  • Exhibition Director

    Takahiro Kaneshima


    ACK program director, visiting professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. He was born in Tokyo in 1977 and currently lives in Kyoto. After completing the master’s program
    at Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance in 2002, he worked for Nokia, Toshiba Corporation, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, ART iT, and others. In 2007 he
    established FEC. He is involved in exhibition planning, coordination of exchange projects, artist production support, and research on contemporary art of East Asia. After
    working as an Art Fair Tokyo executive director in 2011 and the art director of Art Beijing in 2016, he is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the Graduate School of
    Fine Arts, Kyoto City University of Arts. He is also the program director of Art Fair ACK (Art Collaboration Kyoto) that will be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center
    starting in 2021.

    The Yanbaru Art Festival started in 2017 and is celebrating its 4th anniversary this year. Although in the middle of the corona pandemic, we will hold it using our ingenuity and implementing various appropriate countermeasures. While looking back at the past three times, we will organize a program that aims for the future. It was a struggle from the start, but artists based in Yanbaru, elsewhere in Okinawa and all the way to Hokkaido in Japan, and the neighboring Asian countries and Europe participated. The artists could deepen their exchanges with the local community by taking advantage of Yanbaru’s regional characteristics, creating and exhibiting works, and practice programs. And last year, although feeling the imminent threat from the COVID-19, our time in Yanbaru was cool. Afterward, when the whirlpool of the coronavirus swallowed us, the event was held without a hitch. Even in such a situation, what art van we do in Yanbaru? With that in mind, I decided to think of the ‘Yanbaru Art Festival’ as a place to plan with the artists who have come to Yanbaru. “What kind of projects and new movements could be born in the environment surrounding contemporary art, which is forced to change due to the corona pandemic disaster? Please look forward to this year’s ‘Yanbaru Art Festival’ as a place for experiments where programs are developed by combining various elements and possibilities, such as past projects, past and new works, online and digital.

  • Craft Department Curator

    Tetsuya Mugishima・Miki Mugishima


    “PORTRIVER MARKET” in the former foreigners’ residential area in Minatogawa, Urasoe, is a select shop that Mr. and Mrs. Mugishima have been running since 2013.
    PORTRIVER is an English translation of the location name Minatogawa. In addition to crafts collected from all over Okinawa, the shop also sells many original products, such
    as accessories and food.

    During this year(s Yambaru Art Festival, a temporary craft shop, “YAF CRAFT MARKET,” will again open in the corner of the main venue, the former Ogimi Village Shioya Elementary School (Ogimi Utility Center). This time, the 4th year of the festival, we have collected even more unique works from Yanbaru workshops and creators active in Yanbaru, representing pottery, dyeing and weaving, woodworking, and more. Besides, this year’s theme is “Living with Plants.” For the first time in Okinawa, there are newly launched original brand “item” artworks such as Ryukyu glass, tin vases, and botanical pattern Yachimun (pottery) shown only at this festival. We have tried to create a lineup that not only those who are new to Okinawan crafts will discover and notice, but also those looking for a particular artist. Furthermore, considering that the event will take place in the shadow of the coronavirus, we have also put effort into the online store so that even those who cannot visit the venue can enjoy craft shopping. There are few opportunities for such diverse crafts from Yanbaru and Okinawa’s entire main island to come together. Please discover Okinawa’s handicrafts, where tradition and innovation are alive, and incorporate them into your daily life.