NL-Kanto is the interdisciplinary cultural program of the Netherlands in Japan on the occasion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. With the goal to promote cultural exchange between the Netherlands and Japan at large, NL-Kanto presents the outcome of ongoing collaborative projects at the center of global attention across Japan’s Kanto area throughout 2021. The program focuses on the themes of ‘inclusivity’ and ‘beyond the capital’, and demonstrates the interaction and sparks between Dutch and Japanese creative minds through various cultural and art events.
NL-Kanto is initiated and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo, DutchCulture, centre for international cooperation and Dutch national cultural foundations.
NL-Kanto is the Dutch cultural program organized by the Netherlands Embassy in Tokyo, DutchCulture and Dutch cultural funds on the occasion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The aims are to promote the cultural exchange between Japan and the Netherlands and to show the results of ongoing projects from all over Japan on this global stage in the Kanto area. The NL-Kanto programming is a result of the shared efforts of Japanese and Dutch creative minds with the keywords ‘inclusivity’ and ‘beyond the capital’ at its base. The outbreak of Covid-19 has affected the implementation period of NL-Kanto, not in the least due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020, but we are determined to keep the flame of creative exchange between Japan and the Netherlands burning.
The Kanto area is a geographical area of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The region includes the Greater Tokyo Area and encompasses seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. One third of the total population of Japan over 40 million people live in this area. Kanto is the second largest sub-national economy in the world.
NL-Kanto is the third edition of regional programs after Holland-Kyushu (2016-2017) and Holland-Kyoto (2019-2020). The focus on the Kanto region – with Tokyo at its center – taps into the motto of the new multi-annual cultural strategy of the Netherlands in Japan from 2021-2024: Tokyo and Beyond. This motto is grounded in the realization that cultural production takes place outside Tokyo, but that one presents oneself in Tokyo. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics ensure that all eyes are on Tokyo until next Summer and this gives us the opportunity to present our results of five years of building collaborations and establishing networks in Tokyo.
The second keyword, ‘inclusivity’ is also very much about getting the regions outside Tokyo to be involved in what is happening in the capital. However, more important is the connection of cultural activities with projects centered on societal issues such as the educational platform NL/Minato, the Game Changer project aimed at the emancipation of sports for disabled people in Japan and the Dutch support for Pride House Tokyo – the permanent LGBTI center established in the run-up to the Games.
The Covid-19 crisis has hit the Japanese and Dutch cultural sector severely and many people active in this field are having a hard time. International cultural exchange between Japan and the Netherlands has also been affected greatly. In a very concrete way, many events have been cancelled or postponed, and travel between our two countries has been severely limited. However, even within these difficult situations, creative thinkers on both sides are exploring new ways and experimenting with new forms of collaboration and exchanges. We can already look forward to some exciting forms of cultural exchange – Japan and the Netherlands are far away in distance but so close in mutual interest and inspiration.