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Shitamachi Art Festival started in 2015, 20 years following the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The festival has been hosted in a wide variety of unique locations throughout downtown Kobe. It has gathered in places including a vacant house, an abandoned storefront, a theater, a former elementary school and open areas and alleyways. The artistic spirit created by the festival breathes new life to these spaces and conveys the soul of downtown Kobe through art and performance. The festival hopes participants will experience and form new perspectives, and carry them onward into daily life even after the festival ends.


The second Shitamachi Art Festival (2017) explores the theme of “People Along the Border.”

The word “Borders” holds a wide variety of definitions, national characteristics, habits, values, and thoughts. The art festival aims to actualize and express “Borders,” which change depending on perspective, value, and time, thereby mutually understanding differences and similarities, and exploring future systems of society over time.

Shitamachi Art Festival consists of 4 programs that encapsulate the theme of “Borders.” It does so through different methodologies and perspectives, broadening the range of expression and answers to society.

“Dialogue on the Borderline,” performed in various indoor and outdoor venues, requests the recognition of places and communities that already exist, to open new yet native possibilities of expression.


“KOBE-Asia Contemporary Dance Festival #4,” introduces a new collaborative work with artists coming from throughout Asia and Japan. Their work is based on regional migrant culture. By exploring the culture and stories encoded into the body, attending guests will discover the possibilities of Nagata’s unique cultural diversity.


“Yasumasa Morimura ‘Shitamachi Story 2017-2019,’” Yasumasa Morimura (artist, writer) begins a semi-autobiographical three-year project revolving around the primordial question of, “What is Shitamachi?”


“Setouchi Economic and Cultural Enclave OPEN SUMMIT” is a symposium to provoke thought about the future of each city, as well as to establish connections with artists and their projects within Setouchi and share progression of their work. This project takes place over the next 10 years, in 10 cities within Setouchi while Shitamachi Art Festival marks the inaugural summit for the initiative.


We welcome all to Nagata for a multi-layered conversation from a diverse range of perspectives for “Borders.”


Dialogue on the Borderline

The production will explore the border between the ego and the other, through interviews and dialogue with local residents, artists, and visitors alike. Taking place in high human-traffic areas such as community spaces, alleys, etc. in the Komagabayashi area, the performance space itself becomes the border where ideas and perspectives of different people are allowed to intersect. Through the project (and through sharing the creation process) we attempt to embody the diverse sea of opinions on societal matters, just as there is an equally diverse way of understanding the work as they occur on the borderline.

Participating Artists:

Marie Nohara/Humiko Kawakami/Kazu Ogura/Daigo Adachi/Koushi Kawachi/Shitamachi Sucharaka Comedy Theater 


KOBE-Asia Contemporary Dance Festival #4

“Asia existing in Shinagata, From the Family Lineage”

Drawing from the ever-constant transfiguration of Shinagata, where the culture, art and performing arts from various origins spread and root themselves again throughout new locations and mediums, this piece asks: What is encoded on the body? Is it a song or dance from my hometown? Is it the words that have gone unsaid? The ground is filled with family stories that had never been told from their own lips, layered with a historical background of those who moved or couldn’t help but move. Me, what I am now, who can be seen from looking through my family lineage. We want to explore the many possible ways a geographical location, culturally inherited, affects the state of a family’s progression, and how a physical body can live healthily. We will continue to dive deeper into this topic for 3 consecutive weekends.

Participating Artists:

Jecko Siompo/Nguyễn Trinh Thi/Mika Eglinton/Daiji Meguro/Mikuni Yanaihara/ Le Khanh/Tomoko Ando/Shiratama Hitsujiya/

Jun Tsutsui/Selenographica/Yasuko Yokoshi/Zan Yamashita


Yasumasa Morimura

“Shitamachi Story Project2017-2019”

“What is Shitamachi?” This production marks the start of a three-year project surrounding this primordial question. An artist and a writer, Yasumasa Morimura, is expanding his own theory of urban culture, integrating street scenes and architecture into his work, creating the stories and scenes that rotate around the idea of “Shitamachi” (Downtown), and sensing and appreciating communal culture, urban development as well as the dynamic between Western countries and Asia and how a common ground of shared values is created. In this prologue year, Morimura presents ESQUISSE, a fictitious “Shitamachi” not relegated to a specific location, through a series of video works and symposiums, stemming from research of the 3 Shitamachi cities in Kansai area.

Shitamachi Story 2017〜2019  photo: Kazuo Fukunaga



“Shitamachi Story Project 2017-2019” Chapter I



Yasumasa Morimura (Artist, Writer), Syoki Harasawa (Owner of Takoyaki Friend), Yujiro Nakamura (Owner of barber Nakamura, Nakamura Museum), Tadayoshi Morimoto (Watcher for vacant lots of 3cho-me, Komagabayashi), Sandaichi Kakihara (Former owner of sheet metal shop Kakihata), Yukihusa Shibata (Owner of Okonomiyaki Shibata), Kaoru Horinouchi (Owner of Hair Osyare)



Key Speaker: Sohei Yamada (Sociologist, Division of Kyoto Seika University, Faculty of Humanities, General Humane Studies, Associate Professor)

Presenters: Yasumasa Morimura (Artist, Writer), Kanako Ueda (Representation of cocoroom), Tomoaki Ishihara (Directer of Archival Research Center Kyoto City University of Arts), Tomohisa Sato (Associate Professor of Archival Research Center, Kyoto City University of Arts), Fumi Yokobori (Directer of Dance Box)

Facilitator: Chieko Kinoshita (Project Director, Associate Professor of 21 Century Kaitokudo, Osaka University)

photo: Kazuo Fukunaga

Setouchi Economic and Cultural Enclave


Attempting to establish new connections with artists and their plans, this project is reclaiming the vibrance of Setouchi in its years as the historical trading point of West Japan. It establishes a new non-hierarchal community that cooperatives with one another, instead of a radial community centered around a focal point. It also aims to share new initiatives between towns that share both geographical and commercial similarities. These initiatives will then be screened for implementation in local cities. It is the first project to include the Seto Inland Sea in over 10 years. 


11/4/2017 (Sat) 13:00-18:00

Location: Rikkendo 3cho-me Shopping Street  

          3Cho-me, Syodacho, Nagata-Ku, Kobe

Presenter: The following project member



11/4/2017 (Sat) 18:30~

Location: Marugo Market

           3-11-2, Futabacho, Nagata, Kobe

※You must make a reservation for SUMMIT and exchange meeting (Fee) in advance.



Shigeki Hattori (graf)

Yuma Harada (UMA/design farm)

Participant units:

ARCADE (wakayama)/BEPPU PROJECT (Oita)/ STAND PROJECT Okayama)/ Discover Link Setouchi (Hiroshima)/YCAM Community Development Laboratory (Yamaguchi)/Unagino Nedoko (Fukuoka)/Dogo Onsenato (Ehime)/Setouchi International Photo Exhibition (Kagawa)/Lifescape (Tokushima)/DOR (Hyogo)


Shitamachi Art Festival Office : DANCE BOX


4F, No.4 Asuta Kuniduka, 6-1-1, Kubo-Cho, Nagata-Ku, Kobe-Shi

Tel: 078-647-7430


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