The Japan Society

Small Grants 2021

In 2021, the Japan Society Small Grants Scheme awarded £16,070 to 22 projects taking place throughout the UK. Despite the ongoing pandemic, we were pleased that this year saw a wide variety of projects, including installations and exhibitions, film screenings and panel discussions, workshops and cultural activities.

It was a busy year for Japanese Cinema; the Queer East Film Festival showcased a selection of rarely seen films from Japan celebrating the lives of the LGBTQ+ community; and at the Reading Biscuit Factory Cinema, to expand on their programme of Japanese film screenings, calligraphy and sumi-e workshops were held, offering local people the chance to experience a little bit of Japan on their doorstep.

The British Museum’s exhibition Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything opened in September, and a small grant helped to support a programme of public events which aimed to engage with local communities. A grant also supported activities at the House of the Setting Sun exhibition at Lakeland Arts in Cumbria, during which a fascinating discovery was made when it was uncovered that a kimono, previously assumed to be either a replica or made for export, was in fact authentic late Edo period made for a member of a well-known samurai family.

Teachers at schools across the UK, spanning from Glasgow to Sussex, planned engaging projects for students; children in rural Gloucestershire enjoyed traditional story-telling and learnt about the significance of the origami crane in a week of activities; while pupils at schools in Lincolnshire and Glasgow immersed themselves in Japanese culture, learning across subjects from geography to music to art and design.

In Oxfordshire, pupils designed and created their own Japanese garden; and in West Sussex, students took part in an inventive ‘mock flight’ to Japan as part of their project, which also included food tasting, language learning, arts and crafts. Meanwhile, pupils in East London celebrated their passion for manga in a competition to create manga-themed decorations for their classroom door, where the winners chose books to be added to the school library.

The Tokyo Olympic Games were celebrated in Northern Ireland at the Naughton Gallery’s ‘VAMOS NIPPON!’ exhibition; and at the Queens Park Arena in Glasgow, calligraphy workshops and film screenings took place to coincide with the Games. Funding was also given in support of several projects due to go ahead in 2022, including workshops for young people, arts projects and cultural events for local communities.

Japan Society Small Grants - How to Apply

To learn more about the Japan Society Small Grants Scheme, its guidelines and application process visit our overview page. If you have any questions or issues, please contact us at

"Reinventing Texture” by Toshiki Hirano, representing Japan in London Design Biennale 2021

"Reinventing Texture” by Toshiki Hirano, representing Japan in London Design Biennale 2021

MA students from The Royal College of Art in London collaborated on a project with Clare Farrow Studio and Toshiki Hirano to contribute to a project for London Design Biennale 2021, using Washi papier-mâché, 3D scans and field recording.

House of the Setting Sun

House of the Setting Sun

An exhibition and activities held in Bowness-on-Windermere, including rarely seen ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Japanese and British ceramics and a never seen before Edo period kimono.