Explore music, contemporary art,
and Buddhist art in the Beppu and Kunisaki areas
Beppu City, which boasts the largest number and water volume of hot springs in Japan, has many festivals and events such as the "MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich's Meeting Point in Beppu" with Martha Argerich, the world's greatest pianist, as its director. It also has the annual art events "in BEPPU" and "Beppu Art Month," where world-famous artists present their works. On the Kunisaki Peninsula, adjacent to Beppu City, recognized as a Japanese heritage, has flourished the Buddhist culture since ancient times. Many historical sites and cultural assets carry on its prosperity to the present. Several contemporary artworks have been set up in the area since the "Kunisaki Peninsula Art Festival" held in 2014. Why not take a trip to explore music, contemporary art, and Buddhist art?
Shiiki Argerich House
- 874-0903 3030-1 Noguchihara, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture
- 874-09382 2 Suehiro-cho, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture,2 Suehiro-choBeppu City, Oita Prefecture
Oita Fragrance Museum
- 874-0915 Japan 48-1 Kitaishigaki, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture
Tendai Soto Bego Honzan Ryokoji Temple
- 873-0356 Japan 1548 Ryoko, Yasuki-cho, Kunitachi City, Oita Prefecture
A museum of heterogeneous nature and people
- 872-1207 Japan In the Nagasaki Hana Resort Campground, 4060 Bungo Takada City, Oita Prefecture
TeamLab Gallery Matama Beach
- 872-1107 Japan 4467-3 Usuno, Bungo Takada City, Oita Prefecture
© Rikimaru Hotta
Pianist / Vice-chairman of the Argerich Arts Foundation General Producer, Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu Producer, Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus
Kyoko Ito was born in Fukuoka. Kyoko Ito was born in Fukuoka. She graduated from the Music High School Attached to the Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, and Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.
A fantastic encounter between Oita and Argerich, the top pianist in the world In pursuit of a classical music experience which can only be found here
MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu began in 1998 as Oita’s art and culture project. Concerts and educational programs are held with world-famous virtuoso pianist, Martha Argerich, as the general director, with musicians from in and outside of Japan taking part as well. Ms. Kyoko Ito is the vice-chairman of the Argerich Arts Foundation, the foundation that organizes the music festival. Ms. Ito is also the general producer of the music festival and a pianist herself. We asked her about the significance of continuing her activities in Oita and the roles of art in society.
Martha Argerich (left) and Kyoko Ito (right) on a stage bowing in recognition of applause from the audience.© Rikimaru Hotta
Ms. Ito, what do you find appealing about Oita?
In planning the MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu, we needed to think deeply about what the true appeal of Oita is. What came to light was that when Sorin Otomo, known as the Christian Daimyo, ruled Oita, there was a history of accepting western culture, including music. This part of the history led us to the meeting with Argerich, which I feel is a miracle. But I don’t think many people realized the enormity of the history. I have a deep respect for ancestors in Oita who wove the history and created Oita as a place with features not present in any other region, a history that cannot be acquired with money.
History creates the temperament of the area and the personalities of the people living there. Understanding the culture of the place awakens introspective thinking power and delicate sensitivities that were a part of Japanese people in the past.
A scene from the main stage “Best of Best Series Vol.7 Orchestra Concert” in the 21st MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu (May 18th, 2019, Iichiko Culture Center / Iichiko Grand Theater). Gathering of incredible musicians, Martha Argerich (piano, photo right), master Mischa Maisky (cello, photo left), and world-famous conductor Charles Dutoit.
© Rikimaru Hotta
What are your thoughts as you take on art and culture activities in Oita?
Oita, which prospered as Japan’s leading hot spring district, is now structuring a new society of art created by nature and its people. It can be said that Oita is transitioning from a city offering just entertainment to a city of human heritage by pouring in creative energy and making use of what is born from it.
The essence of art is its spirituality. Music is always nestled close to and exists with people, and it awakens precious hearts, something called a good soul that lies in the deepest part of the human heart. That is why art created by great predecessors needs to be handed down to future generations as human heritage so that it can help foster the hearts of people. This is linked to the fostering of people and is essential for structuring the foundation of society. I feel Oita is now seeking such a new image.
Ms. Argerich and Ms. Ito performing at the 18th MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu, held in 2016.© Rikimaru Hotta
What is the role of the “MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu” in the region or society?
Music helps us to grow spiritually, fosters imagination, and stimulates our intellect. Music nestles close to people as a universal and nonlinguistic tool of communication and guides us on our path for living. People empathize with and are moved by things created with body and soul. We have continued the “MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu” in the belief that such human activities are necessary for a future society.
“Why can’t everyone be happy,” Argerich muttered one day as if sighing. This was a comment from a lady with kindness deep inside of her profuse passion. I deeply empathized with her words.
In this segregated world, what we need is an open-minded spirit that accepts and acknowledges others. If we can regain the human instinct and sense that we originally had by listening with our hearts, we can live more productive lives. I believe that Oita is a district that can accept others in a society that was segregated by modern, self-centered thoughts, and propagate the magic from people connecting with one another. It will make us so happy if the music we play in Oita can exist in society to help regain this belief.
Organization and text: Mayu Yasunaga (Chikara)
MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu
*Official Name: “MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich's Meeting Point(R) in Beppu”
Music festival held in Beppu, Oita, every year since 1998. The world-famous pianist, Martha Argerich, serves as the general director and Kyoko Ito serves as general producer. With the theme “How music can help society,” Argerich’s Meeting Point is a gathering of people who empathize with Argerich’s deep thoughts seeking a place for meeting in Oita. The festival provides impressive experiences through music to create a better society.
Kyoko Pianist / Vice-chairman of the Argerich Arts Foundation General Producer, Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu Producer, Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus Kyoko Ito was born in Fukuoka. She graduated from the Music High School Attached to the Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, and Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.
During her ten-year stay in Europe, she won third prize at the Busoni International Competition. After that, she began her career as a pianist and performed with Sinopoli and Savalish. In 1994, she planned the Argerich Chamber Music Festival with Argerich, a longtime friend of hers, which was well received in various areas in Japan. With this achievement, she was asked by the City of Beppu to serve as a producer to create a new music culture with Argerich. In November 2018, she received the Western Japan Cultural Award for her achievement of expanding MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu, and connecting a regional area in Japan to the global music scene. She also received the Nippon Steel Music Awards in 2002 and JASRAC Music Culture Award in 2016.
*Partial excerpt from the official website （https://www.argerich-mf.jp/ito.shtml）
NPO BEPPU PROJECT representative / artist He was born in Oita in 1970. He participated in the PS1 International Studio Program from 2000 to 2001. He received the New Artist Award at the 2008 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Awards (Art Promotion Division).
BEPPU PROJECT to stimulate regional areas with art
Why they continue to hold activities in Beppu and Kunisaki Peninsula of Oita Prefecture
Starting with the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival “Mixed Bathing World” held in 2009, diverse art projects have been moving forward in Oita. Its area of activity crosses over the ocean to include Kunisaki Art Festival 2014 which rediscovered the attractive aspects of the Kunisaki Peninsula by modern artists, Oita Toilennale 2015 staged in the Oita city area, and exhibition-based Beppu Contemporary Art Festival “in BEPPU” (2016–) which invited one group of internationally renowned artists to participate in an art project making use of the region’s special features. The NPO BEPPU PROJECT plans and manages these projects. We asked Mr. Junya Yamaide, a representative of the NPO and a person with an active art career, about the significance of continuing with this project in Oita and the roles of art in society.
The artwork entitled “La Chaire (church pulpit),” using a forest to resemble a holy church, created by Tadashi Kawamata (Artwork of the Kunisaki Art Festival)© Rikimaru Hotta
It has been 15 years since the establishment of the BEPPU PROJECT. What is the basis of these diverse activities?
“Mixed Bathing World” in 2009 was the milestone for our project. The purpose of our project is to consider the needs of the regional area and to match our vision with the region’s visions. For this reason, we have deeply considered how to “manage” art. To be more specific, we reviewed the project portfolio and created a system that bears profit. We keep in mind that our perspective is deeply rooted in regional needs.
Opportunity, understanding, and timing are three essential factors in establishing and continuing activities. We consider the art project itself a repetition of R&D (*1) and prototyping (*2), and we have built upon them for the last 14 years.
*1 [R&D] Research and development
*2 [Prototyping] Execution of a first outlined project and job (prototype) anticipating improvement.
The art project “in BEPPU” began in 2016 as a continuation of the project for the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival “Mixed Bathing World.” The photograph was taken at the “Tatzu Nishi in BEPPU” held during the “Beppu Art Month 2017.”
Photo: Maato Tasaki ©Beppu Contemporary Art Festival Mixed Bathing World Executive Committee
Mr. Yamaide, what do you find appealing about Oita?
There are mountains, rivers, and springs. Local culture still exists in the lives of the people living here, and exploring the characteristics of dialect, industry and agriculture leads us to see the interactions and connections. These, I think, are the appealing aspects of Oita. Historically speaking, Oita is an area where diversely different cultures, brought in from across the ocean, are accepted. I think that now is the time to review such natural features and an opportunity to seek possibilities for the local region.
From the perspective of the environment surrounding art projects in Oita, I think it is extremely fortunate that the public and private sectors are working together towards a common purpose. It is easy to compare and adjust values and to tune visions, where each sector can move forward with projects within their field of specialty. It’s almost like Oita prefecture is one corporation.
Yoko Ono «invisible bench» exhibited in the Kakaji district. This is one of the works of art presented at the Kunisaki Art Festival which was held from February 9th to March 17th of 2013, in Kunisaki City and Bungo-takada City. Works can still be appreciated.
Photo: Takashi Kubo ©Kunisaki Art Festival Executive Committee
What is the role of the “BEPPU PROJECT” in the region or society?
As we continue with our activities, we face the same issue many times. It is the question, “Is art necessary in life?” There may be some who say it’s useless. But no doubt, art is necessary for people’s lives. There is no “correct answer,” but art widens our outlook and stimulates our senses. I believe art is a necessary part of life.
For art to continue to hold its place in society, I think it’s important for it to be open. How can people live more comfortably in the community? How can people feel happy? What is value? We need to truly “see” them through a finer filter.
Knowing and being proud of the culture of the area we live in enables us to attract more people to the area. From the perspective of culture-tourism, we can see the lateral connection that links regional areas such as Kunisaki, based on its local culture, with other regions in the prefecture. I think our mission is to send a fresh breeze into regional areas while valuing the feelings of the residents and artists.
Regional areas crave a hub that links people to people, communities to corporations, past and present, and more, through art projects. Oita will be a more interesting prefecture if artwork that presents a point of view towards the future is produced here.
Organization and text: Mayu Yasunaga (Chikara)
Art NPO based on Beppu City, Oita. Since its establishment in April 2005, the NPO has been working to create an attractive region using art aiming for the universalization of the possibility of art through diverse projects, including the introduction and dissemination of modern art, festivals, planning and making use of local characteristics, human resource development, communicating local information, product development and hardware maintenance.
Junya Yamaide NPO BEPPU PROJECT representative / artist
He was born in Oita in 1970. He participated in the PS1 International Studio Program from 2000 to 2001. He lived in Paris from 2002 to 2004 as an overseas trainee for the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and he presented many of his works in exhibitions held throughout the world. After returning to Japan, he founded the BEPPU PROJECT in 2005. He served as Executive Producer of the Beppu Contemporary Art Festival “Mixed Bathing World” (2009, 2012, 2015), Executive Director of the Kunisaki Art Festival (2014), and Executive Director of the Oita Toilennale (2015). He was the Executive Producer of “in BEPPU” from 2016 and municipal project advisor for National Cultural Festival Oita 2018. He is a member of the Cultural Policy Group, Cultural Council, and Agency for Cultural Affairs. He received the New Artist Award at the 2008 Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Awards (Art Promotion Division).
To Oita Airport
- Haneda Airport 1h25min
- Narita Airport 1h35min
- Itami Airport 55min
- Chubu International Airport 1h10min
From Fukuoka to Oita