TPAM by any other name still aims to build a major Asian platform for the performing arts


Special To The Japan Times

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics waiting in the wings, and memories still fresh of the hugely successful four-year Cultural Olympiad culminating in the London 2012 Festival staged there alongside the Olympic Games, the pressure is on Japan’s leading annual cultural events not to be found wanting in comparison.

For its part, the blue-riband Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama — which is still generally known as TPAM, its first acronym because it originated in Tokyo — already has a good track record internationally, with last year’s iteration featuring 183 non-Japanese from 41 countries among its 639 professional participants, including artists, producers, directors, promoters and critics.

However, it was heartening to hear at a press conference back in November how organizers of this year’s Feb. 6-14 event are determined to bring together more and more artists, producers and audience members from Japan and beyond in the fields of theater, dance and other performing arts.

As such, they made clear, they aim to create a major Asian platform where devotees can enjoy a wealth of creative works and also meet (as the event’s name suggests) to share information and opinions and make plans.

In addition, organizers are particularly keen to foster more and more collaborations and co-productions involving creators and staff from all around Asia.

This makes sound business and artistic sense, as visitors to Japan — of whom most are Asian — surged by 47 percent from 2014 to ’15. However, Hiromi Maruoka, TPAM’s director, said many of the event’s Western participants want to see programs both from Japan and elsewhere in Asia while they are here.

Consequently, organizers are now actively promoting Asian programs to creators, venues and promoters around the world, she said — as well as lining up overseas works along with around 30 cutting-edge ones from Japan to hopefully ensure that this year’s TPAM (or PAMY, or whatever you call it) outshines even its sparkling predecessors as the bar continues to be raised ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

So get set for a (still expanding) range of live programs, as well as open meetings and seminars, to put a cultural spring in your step whatever the weather next month.

Performing Arts in Yokohama 2016 runs Feb. 6-14 at venues in and around Yokohama. For details, including updated schedules, call 03-5724-4660 or visit