Festival Outline


1 April–15 August 2021


Online, various locations in Tokyo


Free (registration required for the online program)

*This festival includes some in-person exhibitions. For all of our in-person events we are implementing measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We ask all visitors attending to please read and comply with our Coronavirus Prevention Guidelines. Thank you for your cooperation.

Who We Are

TOKYO REAL UNDERGROUND (TRU) takes the word "underground" both literally and figuratively, referencing the free spirited "underground culture", showcasing an exciting new program of events influenced by Japanese butoh dance in underground locations throughout Tokyo. Audiences will have the chance to witness a great variety of performing arts while discovering the hidden spaces of modern Tokyo.


The main focus of TRU is to take a contemporary view of "butoh", a performing art that started in Japan in the 1960s and has since spread worldwide. Moving beyond the stereotypes of white-painted bodies and slow movements, this festival brings together both experienced butoh dancers and contemporary artists to develop experimental works that capture the essence of butoh through free interpretation. The aim is to reach a broader audience by shining a new light on this dance form that has not received sufficient recognition in the past.

What is Butoh?

An avant-garde performance-based art originating in post-war Japan. Although it has roots in 1920s German modern dance, it was a groundbreaking form that shook Western dance concepts. Kinjiki (Forbidden Colours) by Tatsumi Hijikata in 1959 is often cited as the first Butoh performance, and since the 1970s it has become increasingly well known internationally. There are now Butoh festivals all over the world, and it has even become featured in school classes and textbooks.


Another big focus of TRU is the "city". Keeping in mind that butoh is a performative expression born just before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and that evolved in a rapidly changing city, some of the program is being taken out of traditional theatres and galleries. Performances and exhibitions are being organised in underpasses, empty stores, a former station building, and other urban spaces that emphasise the lively relationship between body and the city. More details on this program to be announced soon.

photo by: Tatsuhiko Nakagawa

TRU Glossary

BUTOH Sunakku

BUTOH Sunakku is the TOKYO REAL UNDERGROUND base for recording live events.
The TOKYO REAL UNDERGROUND festival is being held along the Ginza line—the oldest subway line in Asia—in the Ueno, Ginza and Shibuya areas. Most of the festival is being filmed in Ueno. In cooperation with “Arts & Snacks”, an organisation utilising empty snack bars (known as “sunakku”) in the Ueno and Yushima districts, a recording space has been set up in an empty sunakku in the Ueno/Ikenohata area for the duration of the festival. All live events such as the aftershow talks with the artists are being streamed from this BUTOH Sunakku.
In cooperation with: Arts and Snack Executive Committee, Ikenohata Fujii and Tokyo Cultural Heritage Alliance

Butoh Exhibition Dance

For some of our talks, Butoh dancers have been invited to perform a slow, sculptural “Butoh Exhibition Dance” as the discussion happens around them. This is a new style of event where talks are conducted in a Butoh-inspired atmosphere.

*Kazuko Night*

On Kazuko Nights, our director of the Un Certain Regard program Takao Kawaguchi hosts our BUTOH Sunakku as a Japanese snack bar “mama”, and invites artists to talk about the concept and process behind their work. The *Kazuko Night* set is dressed by our graphic and web design team Young Soul.

Featured Artists

Naoto Iina, Yasunori Ikunishi, Kim Itoh, Tadashi Endo, Oguri, Eiko Otake, Yuko Kaseki, Takao Kawaguchi, Mikiko Kawamura, William Klein, Yuki Kobayashi, Naoyuki Sakai, Pechika Satoh, Atsushi Takenouchi, Toshi Tanaka, Tomomi Tanabe, HAUS, Dai Matsuoka, Yumi Umiumare, Daisuke Yoshimoto, River Lin and more…

Curatorial Team

Artistic Director:
Takao Kawaguchi (Performer)

Naoto Iina (Film Maker, Director - Dance and Media Japan)
Dai Matsuoka (Butoh Dancer, Director - LAND FES)

Toshio Mizohata (Director - NPO Dance Archive Network)


Managing Director:
Yurika Kuremiya
(till June 14, 2021)

Project Assistant:
Mai Honda

Public Relations:
Yuko Nishiyama (dance press tokyo)

Technical Team:
Roshi (Sunagumi)
Noriyuki Mori (balance,inc.DESIGN)
Takashi Kawachi
Noriaki Coda
Naohiro Yoshida

Film Production:

Publicity Text & Edit:
Tamaki Harada (Cawaii Factory)
Mari Nakayama (Cawaii Factory)

Graphic Design:
Nobutaka Kitakaze (Young Soul)

Website Design:
Miku Matsuoka (Young Soul)

Mai Honda
Zhang Ying
Lee Jane

Tatsuhiko Nakagawa
Tzvasa Wada

TRU Online Film Production & Streaming Staff: NPO LAND FES

Film Production & Streaming Director
Dai Matsuoka

Camera Crew
Takuya Isomura, Masabumi Kimura, Ryo Sakemoto, Hirofumi Seto, Yuta Tamanaha, Shohei Fukushima

Sound Crew
Tetsu Umehara, Chiho Oka, Shunsuke Nemoto, Ryotaro Miyasaka

Livestream Team
Makoto Ando, Takuya Isomura, Kotone Ito, Tetsu Umehara, Masabumi Kimura, Hirofumi Seto, Ryo Sakemoto, Yuta Tamanaha, Hisako Nakaoka, Yuto Niyama, Shunsuke Nemoto, Shohei Fukushima, Ryotaro Miyasaka

Post Production Team
Takuya Isomura, Ryo Sakemoto, Yuto Niyama

Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)

Planning and Production:
NPO Dance Archive Network

Sponsored by
BNP Paribas Group

In cooperation with
Kazuo Ohno Dance Studio; Butoh Laboratory, Japan; Keio University Art Center; FILMS PARIS NEW YORK; Dance and Media Japan; NPO LAND FES; Yusuke Suzuki Design Office Inc.; HAUS Co. Ltd.; Sasaki Architecture; Canta Co. Ltd; Keisei Electric Railway; Shuto Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited; Arts and Snack Executive Committee; Ikenohata Fujii; Tokyo Cultural Heritage Alliance; SAISON Foundation; Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab; Sony Marketing Inc.; Sega Sammy Arts Foundation

Public Relations Cooperation:
dance press tokyo

Contact Details

Mai Honda, Yuko Nishiyama (NPO Dance Archive Network)
E-mail: press@tokyorealunderground.net / TEL:03-3582-9273 / FAX:03-3582-9275

About Dance Archive Network

Dance Archive Network (DAN) is a non-profit organisation that conserves the artistic assets and knowledge of Kazuo Ohno and Yoshito Ohno, and promotes the significance of dance archives and international networks. The aim is to contribute to the legacy and promotion of dance culture by collecting and saving documentation, and organising current works inspired by them. DAN is also currently working towards the development of a new, 3D technology-based archive.
Official website:

About Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL

Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL is an initiative that unfolds a variety of cultural programs in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Tokyo, promoting its appeal as a city of arts and culture.
Official website:

About Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo sought a wide range of creative and innovative ideas from the public for projects that would become the core of the cultural programs for the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL. From a total of 2,436 project proposals submitted from within Japan and overseas, 13 were selected for implementation. The 13 projects are collectively named “Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13”, and are being implemented in sequence.
Official website: