Performing Arts 60th Anniversary

It’s the 60th Anniversary of our Performing Arts Program!

Since 1953, Japan Society’s Performing Arts Program has enriched the arts in New York City, the U.S. and beyond through the presentation of artists whose works are formed or inspired by the arts and culture of Japan. Throughout the years, the Society has presented over 600 events of the finest Japanese theater, dance, and music from very traditional to the most cutting-edge. Today, the Program continues to inspire awe, push boundaries, educate and make creative visions come true by presenting and touring works by leading international artists, promoting cross-cultural exchanges, commissioning new works and coordinating artist residencies and public programs.

Support Performing Arts

In Japanese tradition, kanreki (還暦), or 60th birthday, marks a special celebration of longevity and rebirth. Help us continue our mission to provide the best of Japanese theater, dance and music to audiences in New York City and beyond with a gift in honor of our 60th anniversary.


Highlights of the 60th Season


About Japan Society's Performing Arts Program

Beginning with its first ambitious presentation in 1953 at Columbia University, the Society has strived to share the unique arts and culture of Japan with U.S. audiences. In 1957, the Program began actively presenting Japanese musicians of both Eastern and Western traditions through concerts at schools and leading New York City venues. In the years to follow, programs such as gagaku Imperial Court music (1959) and the NY premiere of Bunraku (1966) were among Americans’ first tastes of the exquisite performing arts of Japan.
In 1971, the completion of the Society’s landmarked building at current location gave the Program a permanent stage of its own and opened its doors for year-round presentations. The space was inaugurated with a concert by the Tokyo String Quartet with subsequent breakthrough presentations including Awaji Puppet Theater (1971); Eiko & Koma U.S. debut (1976); a two-week-long run of Grand Kabuki (1982) at the Metropolitan Opera House; Tadashi Suzuki’s The Trojan Women/The Bacchae (1982); and Sankai Juku (1990) at New York City Center.
In 1992, a major donation from the Lila Acheson Wallace/Japan Society allowed to enhance the Society’s auditorium, enabling the Program to vastly expand its offerings. Highlights in the years following include Yamabushi Kagura (1994); Toru Takemitsu’s memorial concert (1996); Seinendan Theater Company U.S. debut (2000); and Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company (2003), to name a few.  In 2006, an exclusive Performing Arts Program endowment was established through a matching grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, allowing the Program to increase the frequency and scale of its commissions to non-Japanese artists for the creation of new works inspired by the culture of Japan.
Japan Society’s Performing Arts Program’s impact goes far beyond its activities at 333 East 47th Street. The Program has collaborated with world-class cultural organizations such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Public Theater, BAM and the Guggenheim Museum; and the Program’s leadership role in Society-produced North-American tours of Japanese performing artists has earned it recognition among presenters around the world.



"Since 1964 when my grandfather Nomura Manzo VI and father Nomura Mansaku first performed at Japan Society, my family’s relationship with Japan Society has spanned over four generations including myself and my elder son Yuki. Without Japan Society, I believe that the reception and degree of interestof the American public in Japanese traditional performing arts would not be as deep as we see it today. I hope for continued growth of Japan Society, from faraway Japan." –Nomura Mansai, kyogen, theater and film actor

"I have to thank Japan Society for making all that experience happen—the production commissioned by Japan Society was quite an important work for me in so many ways." –John Jesurun, director

"There are few organizations like the Japan Society promoting understanding of foreign countries." –Bando Tamasaburo V, Kabuki Actor

Corporate Partner:

MetLife Foundation

Major Support:

Doug and Teresa Peterson, Mr. Kenneth A. Cowin; Dr. John K. Gillespie; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; an anonymous donor; and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


Additional Support:

Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II; Mr. Richard Royce; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Ms. Kumiko Yoshii; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Mr. Norton Belknap; The Globus Family; Geoffrey Paul Gordon and Nicole A. Gordon; Dr. Stephen J. and Mrs. Michiko Levine; Mr. James C. Nolan ⱡ; Mr. Michael Romano; Mr. Alex York and Paula S. Lawrence.

ⱡ deceased


Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund; and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with leadership gifts from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Globus Family, Kyocera Corporation, The Starr Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation.

In-kind Support:

Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.

Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society.

MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception support is provided by MetLife Foundation.

Images: Butoh pioneer Kazuo Ohno (1996) © Julie Lemberger; Nohgaku Kyokai restaging of the 1879 First Noh & Kyogen Program Witnessed by Americans (2004) © William Irwin; Hikashu and Tomoe Shinohara live in concert (2011) © Naomi Ramirez.

Calendar of Events

February 2021

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