These are the major performing arts (theatre, dance) festivals in Japan.
Dance New Air
This is Japan’s only large-scale, regular dance festival. Developed out of Dance Biennale Tokyo (launched in 2002) and Dance Triennale Tokyo, it is funded by Arts Council Tokyo and run by Spiral/Wacoal Art Center and others. It usually takes place in the autumn.
Launched in 2009 (developing out of another festival that had gone by various other names), the Ikebukuro-based festival is Japan’s largest in terms of budget and scale. It is funded by the Toshima ward and Tokyo governments, and happens every autumn for around a month.
Kyoto Experiment (KEX)
Launched in 2010, Kyoto Experiment is now based in ROHM Theatre Kyoto and features a wide range of Japanese and international performing arts. It has particularly pioneered children’s theatre and introducing Latin American performance to Kyoto audiences, as well as supporting Kansai-region artists and groups. It happens every year in the early autumn.
Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) World Theatre Festival Shizuoka under Mt. Fuji
SPAC opened in 1997, directed by Tadashi Suzuki, and was at the time the first theatre of its kind in Japan to have a resident company. In the early summer, SPAC hosts an international festival.
This was Japan’s first international festival, founded in 1982 by Tadashi Suzuki. Though the original festival ended in 1999, the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) has since 2008 continued to organise annual events in the remote mountain village in Toyama. It is best known recently for cultivating the work of emerging directors.
Tokyo Performing Arts Market (TPAM)
Although technically an event for performing arts professionals, TPAM always has plenty of showcases and performances running alongside the networking. Intended primarily for professionals to see a range of local and international work, these performances are also open to the general public. Launched in 1995, TPAM was originally based in Tokyo but has been located in Yokohama since 2011. It happens every year, typically in February.