A Future Built on the Arts- Aiming to be a Peace-Seeking University -


Thirty years have passed since our school opened in January 1977, and this upcoming year marks the beginning of another three decades for our school. The course of this university started from the words “To the Youth of Tomorrow.” At the start of those first three decades, I stated the following:

Here and now, our university is welcoming a new time of departure. At this time, I cannot hide my hesitation. There is no reason to discuss the theoretical difficulties in establishing a college under the current circumstances; however, it is important that our university be a place of educational research that attracts young students with high ideals, and we must have open discussions about “each way of life” and focus on young groups that gather with serious thoughts about how to achieve their future prospects.

Now, as we proceed into the next 30 years, that ambition has not changed at all. This school's founding ideals have finally reached a point where we can envision a “Future Built on the Arts” while simultaneously working a “Toward a Kyoto Renaissance.”

Looking back at the university's opening, the shift from the 20th to the 21st century was a turbulent time. We witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the democratic revolutions of countries in Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even with all these events, however, we still do not achieve peace on Earth. Ethnic and religious strife continued to intensify in many areas including the Middle East and Africa. In 2001, New York suffered a terrorist attack, and even now, wars and massacres continue around the world. Meanwhile, poverty in a massive population is increasing and environmental destruction is continuing to grow and threaten mankind's survival. The world's population reached 4 billion in 1977, and by 2006, was more than 6.5 billion, an increase of 1.5 billion in just 30 years. China has a population of 1.4 billion, requiring a consumption of natural resources exceeding that of the United States and other developed countries. However, this fact is not limited to China. By 2030, India will have the world's largest population. When China and India attain the same living standards as those in the United States and other developed countries, a question regarding what will happen to our planet Earth arises. It has been estimated that the Earth can feed a population of 9 to 10 billion people on a developed country level; however, it is clear that the population increase will exceed this estimate.

Will mankind be able to gain enough wisdom to prevent the further destruction of Earth, eradicate poverty, and obtain happiness? Or will we consume all of Earth's resources and continue wars and massacres as we follow a path to extinction? Without any doubt, the next three decades will decide the future of mankind.

When you think about that, our current arts movement affects the future of mankind. The problem of “war and peace” and “art and war” continues to draw attention from everywhere. The only resolution that has arisen from this attention is that the world has always been this way and that we should just continue forward on this same road of destruction.

The University's Current Standing and Mission

When the institution first started, it had a capacity of just 175 students. Now, the university has grown to contain over 3,000 young adults. Our correspondence education program is celebrating 10 years of education and now educates over 6,200 working adults. Needless to say, our renaissance movement, which has expanded across the country, has had a big effect on the success of correspondence education. Likewise, the “Children's Academy of Art and Education” was born from library activities developed for mothers and their children, which started after the university was established. Beginning next year, 80 people—40 pairs of mothers and children—will enter the “Children's University of the Arts.” Our sister school, the Tohoku University of Art and Design, celebrated its 15th year of education, and while the university management has been severe in the devastated Tohoku area, it has fought marvelously to continue the “Northeast Renaissance.” The Japan Arts Foundation, established in Tokyo, has steadily gained a foothold and continued engaging in activities that shed light on the realities of the world to people who ignore or choose to avoid facing modern civilization.

Transcending regions and spreading across generations, Tohoku, Kyoto, and Tokyo are creating a foundation that pushes forward as we strive to become a “peace seeking university” for conscientious people.

Most encouraging of all is the fact that our institution has brought together many outstanding young people. In particular, over the last few years, we were able to scout many talented people. In Kyoto and Yamagata as well, younger generations full of talent are being born. As the director, I think that my most important mission is to contribute to creating a system that can fully demonstrate the powers of that generation.

Prospects for the next 30 years

  1. Aim for a Renaissance Movement That Transcends Regions and Generations

    Can we have an artistic and cultural movement that strives for peace, one that transcends regions and generations, which also permeates into every corner of Japan? That is the proposition of our institution. While currently encompassing the entire country, we must vigorously push forth and expand across the world.

    A. Correspondence Education for Adults

    Correspondence education has grown into a major cornerstone of our institution as the renaissance movement has spread throughout Japan. Through correspondence education, new university prospects have been born in many areas and within various generations. It is evident that further developing this correspondence education can strengthen the renaissance movement.

    Therefore, beginning this year, it is necessary to further enhance undergraduate education while cultivating the substance of the correspondence graduate school. We will launch a redeveloped satellite campus in Tokyo that will expand every year, and beyond that, will continue to make progress with “Regional Bases” that support student activities in each region, not just in Tokyo.

    In addition, we aim to develop new correspondence education programs that meet the needs of working adults, establish an educational structure that creates opportunities for people to become involved in art, and expand the fields of study in the graduate school and establish a course that aims to train art education professionals in a way that keeps pace with the expansion of the “Children's University of the Arts.”

    B. Children's Academy of Art and Education—Mother and Child Together

    By opening the “Children's Academy of Art and Education,” our institution has taken the first step into early childhood art education, which forms the basis for character building. Looking at the circumstances of the society surrounding children today, it is painfully clear that the continuation of the renaissance movement will be impossible without an art movement designed for mothers and their children.

    Current students request that “this movement should be expanded to African and South American countries, where children are suffering.” The day when this will happen will undoubtedly come. We aim to expand this program throughout the country as we further enhance the educational content of the “Children's Academy of Art and Education” in cooperation with the Tohoku University of Art and Design. In addition, we will firmly strive to develop and foster young people who will undertake the education of mothers and their children as we establish methods and principles aimed at advancing the exploration of childhood arts through the “Department of Art and Child Studies.”

    C. Heading toward a consistent arts education system

    In our institution, young people aged eighteen to twenty, working adults, and mothers and children all underwent a transformation in the university in which they learn. However, how can we expand our arts movement to students aged six to eleven and twelve to seventeen? A consistent arts education system from infancy to adulthood is a theme that must be addressed no matter what. From here on, the results of educational research focusing on child art studies, activities from the “Children's Academy of Art and Education,” and high school intercollegiate cooperation will begin to deal with this issue. In addition, we will also learn how to handle this issue on the basis of the results of the “Nationwide High School Design Championship” hosted by the Tohoku University of Art and Design.

  2. Connect Kyoto with Tohoku and aim for the revival of Japan

    Previously, I had been thinking back on Japan after the War, when it was reduced to ashes, tracing the history of the nation and its cultural origins. In doing so, the native Japanese spirit seemed evident to me, and I decided to establish this university because I thought that Japan was on the road to recovery. The Japanese cultural focus shifted to Kyoto, and the new arts and culture movement put that spirit into practice and was named “Toward a Kyoto Renaissance.”

    The junior college was inaugurated and a new university was formed. While the home of the Japanese spirit was sought after through the arts and culture movement, before Kyoto could become the center of Japanese culture, many doubts sprang up about Japan's image. What was really on the other side of the Yayoi culture? Being led by that question, I strolled around the great lands of Tohoku. I believe Tohoku to be the last remaining “Mother Earth” in Japan, the last stronghold that could overcome the errors of modern civilization. Hence, I decided to establish a university in this great land and start a movement that would appropriately reflect Japanese history from the Jomon through the Yayoi period, and also to connect Tohoku and Kyoto.

    That was the starting point of the Tohoku University of Art and Design. The Kyoto University of Art and Design and the Tohoku University of Art and Design each have their own different management characteristics, but nevertheless have common principles:

    2000 Credit transfer program established
    2001 Satellite campus in Tokyo jointly established
    2002 Exchange program begins
    2003 Joint management of South Korea (Seoul) office commences
    2005 “Children's Academy of Art and Education” opens at both schools
    Kyoto University of Art and Design “Artist Summit” and Tohoku University of Art and Design “Japan Senior High School Design Championship” cooperative collaboration begins
    2006 Research Center for East Asisan Arts and Culture opens (a joint venture of the Kyoto University of Art and Design, Tohoku University of Art and Design, and Hongik University, Seoul)

    I am convinced that the road that will show the image of Japan to the world is in the movement that depicts an obvious connection between the culture of Jomon and Yayoi, as well as Kyoto and Tohoku.

    At the same time, when the “Children's Academy of Art and Education” opened at both institutions, the two institutions revealed a clear and shared notion. Joined by the Japan Arts Foundation in Tokyo and Yasushi Kyodo Museum with the cooperation of Tateshina, and in collaboration with correspondence students and alumni, we can expand upon the idea of a “museum university concept” to the whole country, making it more than just a dream. Through the cooperation of the Kyoto University of Art and Design and the Tohoku University of Art and Design, we can make certain that Japan moves toward a revival through the arts, while at the same time, showing a completely new image of university operations.

  3. Aim for Peace and the Unification of East Asia

    The state of affairs on the Korean peninsula continues to shake the world. Last year, North Korea was criticized for its decision to conduct nuclear testing. However, the United States is actually the world's largest nuclear nation. Moreover, it is the only country to drop a nuclear bomb on another country, and still has 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is a reality that nuclear warheads exist; nine countries including Russia, China, France, and Britain have an estimated 300,000 bombs, an amount capable of destroying Earth more than 30 times. Moreover, Arab states bordering Iran have united and begun to engage in nuclear arms development. At this time, why don't the powerful countries spearhead a campaign against the use of nuclear weapons? The foolishness of mankind causes it to continue to hate and kill one another, impeding the development of world peace and threatening the Earth. Moreover, we are still searching for happiness.

    Although North and South Vietnam, as well as East and West Germany, have reunited, the Korean peninsula still continues to be divided in both land and nationality. How can we stop the suffering of the Korean people who remain divided 50 years after their homelands were reduced to ashes by war? Additionally, how can we join the South Korean nation in their earnest wish for a unification of the Korean peninsula? We need to resolve the confrontations and tension in the Korean peninsula, end the history of sadness and separation of the Korean people, and open the road to peace and the unification of East Asia.

    China is also a major topic when discussing the current state of a unified East Asia. China has come to demonstrate a big influence in world politics. That trend will decisively control the destiny of East Asia.

    How can Japanese style painting in East Asia come together with China, collaborate with South Korea, and survive a crisis?

    In order to find a solution to this problem, the Kyoto University of Art and Design has established the Research Center for East Asian Arts and Culture in cooperation with the Tohoku University of Art and Design and South Korea's Hongik University, and has finally begun “East Asian Art and Culture Research” activities. Other powerful universities in South Korea, such as Yonsei University and the Ehwa University for Women, as well as China, are also participating in this activity.

    In a time of crisis for mankind, “problems of peace within East Asia” and perhaps “racial unification issues in the arts and culture” will attempt to find a solution through research on the modern and traditional arts of the East Asian region including Japan, South Korea, and China, as well as research on the historical relationships of arts and culture and the practical academic exchange between students and teachers.

  4. Aim for a Social Reform of Artistic Creativity

    How can we instill a strong sense of spirit into our young arts students that will overcome this age of human crisis? How can we foster an attitude that uses the power of art for the happiness of others, and give them the power to imagine another person's pain? How can we acquire the creativity that will reform society and solve this difficult problem? How do we send young people with an artistic spirit out into the world? The arts revival is, if nothing else, a movement to nurture a human race that carries the renaissance, and it goes without saying that this is also the most important mission at each of our institutions.

    In order to attain this goal, we need to reform various curriculums. It is becoming increasingly common to see a lively attitude in our students. You can see that the ideals of this institution are gradually being infused into our students. As we firmly promote this reform, it is necessary to ardently appeal to society for human “imagination” and “creativity” because those are the keys to overcoming the difficult issues faced by the human race. The university can only fulfill its role as an educational institution once its alumni have a place within society. We aim to fully support our students' activities and constructively help build a system of social reform focused on youthful “creativity.”

  5. Be a University That Searches for an Ideal and a Philosophy of the Arts Movement

    How is the problem of “war and peace” seen from the standpoint of the arts?
    How is the situation of this world acknowledged?

    It is fundamental that we communicate the ideals and philosophy of the arts to our students. The university would not exist without these ideals, and without a philosophy to stand by, the arts movement would not exist.

    What is beauty? What is love? What is human? What is life?

    The university is embarking on another 30 years. For our institution, establishment was a struggle until now. However, from here, the next 30 years will decide the fate of our university. The world's population was just 400 million people when the European Renaissance took place.

    The renaissance movement started in an age when it was believed that the potential of mankind was limitless and the Earth was everlasting. The idea that humanity was the supreme creation was a historical foundation that continues into modern times. However, it is obvious now that the world is limited. Our “renaissance” is completely different in nature from the previous “Renaissance.” Based on the knowledge that the Earth will not last forever, our advocated “renaissance” is a movement striving for world peace and the revival of the human spirit through arts and culture.

    What is art? How can art deter war?
    Does art have the power to eradicate poverty from the Earth?
    Can art be mankind's savior?

    The standard of “aiming to be a peace seeking university” is clear, and I believe that future generations will have a new determination to fight for that standard as long as humanity survives.

Shochoku Tokuyama
Chairman, Uryuyama Academic Foundation
(The current Chancellor of Uryuyama Academic Foundation)

Spring, 2007

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