Made in Japan

  • 2015-10-21
  • By Michael Mustillo

VILNIUS - Japanese art, design, and music are coming to the Baltic States, and from Oct. 21 to 27, the very first MADE IN JAPAN design week will take place in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. The event aims at bringing designers from Japan and Lithuania together to learn and exchange ideas.

The MADE IN JAPAN event will consist of three parts, a conference, a fair and a concert programme.
According to Sergej Grigorjev, the founder of the MADE IN JAPAN project, and organizer of the now Japan cultural festival, the event in Vilnius will serve “as an international platform in the Baltic region for discussion among designers, architects, media artists, and performance artists interested in international collaboration and expansion to Asia.”
 “The Baltic creative force is ripe to be discovered by Japan,” continued Grigorjev. “Likewise, contemporary Japan is almost unknown to Eastern Europe, and it’s about time we changed that!

“There is a great potential for new ideas and projects -- with leading industry professionals meeting in Vilnius, creativity will start sparkling in no time.”
The festival’s patron is the Lithuanian Minister of Culture Sarunas Birutis, who believes “without doubt, this project will inspire Lithuanian and Japanese creatives to collaborate and find new forms of creativity within their respective cultures.”
According to Grigorjev, the reason for hosting a MADE IN JAPAN festival is that over the last eight years, he has noticed a growing Japanese interest in Vilnius and Lithuania.

He said, “if you ask people what they know about Japan, it’d be Sumo, Sake, Geishas, Karaoke, Anime, and Cosplay -- these are all traditional or pop culture items. There isn’t much known about Japanese contemporary culture.
“The project aims to present contemporary arts and industries. It’s an opportunity for Baltic people of the Baltic States to gain inspiration, and get fresh and useful contacts for future endeavors.
“It is also important for Japanese creatives to discover the resourcefulness of the Baltic States,” he continued. “I’ve talked with quite a few marketing specialists from Japan, and for them, the Baltic region is mainly unknown, and that’s what makes it unique and likable -- It’s something we can use to our vantage point.”

The event is funded by the Foundation for Support of Culture of Lithuania and the Japanese Embassy in Lithuania. Japanese private entities operating in Baltic region are also sponsoring the project.  
The newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to Lithuania, Toyoei Shigeeda, stated 2016 will be the 25th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Lithuania.

“I believe this festival would be a great contribution for further development of the relationship between Japan and Lithuania on a grassroots level,” he said. As a result of the festival, he added he hopes there will be an increase in Lithuanians taking an interest in Japan and Japanese products and culture.

The Ambassador further noted the involvement and investment of the Japanese company, Hitachi, in Lithuania. In 2011, the multinational conglomerate was selected as a strategic investor for a new nuclear power plant to be built in Lithuania.
“This project will bring not only a nuclear power plant itself but also gross direct/indirect economic benefits in the region,” he told the Baltic Times. “Key benefits are the improvement of energy security, low carbon energy, and increased price stability.

“We have also examined the benefits of employment, the development of nuclear skills, supply chain opportunities for local companies, plus infrastructure development and development of human resources.”
According to numbers from the Lithuanian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Japanese tourists visiting Lithuania was 10,079 in 2013 and 14,526 in 2014. The Ambassador believes the number will continue to rise in 2015.
In 2014, the number of Lithuanian tourists visiting Japan was 2,345.
Further information on the Made in Japan Festival is available at the website
The first Japan-Baltic Design Week MADE IN JAPAN runs from Oct. 21 - 27.