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The Japanese Art Market in Data

Viewing the Japanese Art Market Through Data:
Highlights from the Japanese Art Industry Market Research Report 2019

■2019 Caps Four Years of Growth for the Japanese Art Market

In autumn 2019, Art Tokyo Association, which organizes Art Fair Tokyo, conducted the Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey 2019. Based on results from around 20,000 samples and distributed according to government population data, the overall scale of the art market in Japan was estimated as 258 billion yen, as shown in Figure 1. The scale of the art market in Japan has demonstrated gradual growth from the 243.1 billion yen estimated in the first survey in 2016 to the 246 billion yen in the 2018 survey, but this year’s growth of 1.4% is the largest since the survey began.

The 2019 Market Survey on Japan's Art Industry Art Tokyo Association (general company) Platform for Arts and Creativity (general company)

※USD to JPY conversions are based on an official Ministry of Finance exchange rate of 1 USD to 112.43 JPY from December 30, 2018 until January 5, 2019.

According to The Art Market 2019 report (March 2019) by Swiss finance group UBS and Art Basel, the world’s largest art fair, the global art market decreased for two years following its record high in 2014 of around $68.2 billion, dropping to $56.9 billion in 2016, but then, as Figure 2 shows, recovered with two years of growth from 2017 and rose to about $67.4 billion (approx. 7.58 trillion yen).

The United States: (44%).The United Kingdom:(21%). China: (19%) . The 3 top countries comprise 80%.Japan is among the others in the 3%.

In terms of countries, the United States is the top market with 44% of sales, while the United Kingdom jumped from third to overtake China as the second highest market with 21%. China dropped to third with 19%. These top three markets account for 84% of total sales, as shown in Figure 3. Notwithstanding the international tensions and geopolitical risks evident these past few years, not least friction between America and China, and the UK’s departure from the EU, art’s status as an asset continues to rise, with investment jumping from $1.622 trillion in 2016 to $1.742 trillion (approx. 196 trillion yen) in 2018, according to data from the Deloitte Art & Finance Report 2019.

According to a ranking of ultra-high net worth individual (dollar millionaires) numbers in Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2019 (November 2019), Japan is third behind the United States and China. The UK is fourth and Germany is fifth, as shown in Figure 4.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock market index, which serves as an indicator of economic strength, ended 2019 on a 29-year high, while the art market also showed larger-than-usual growth. Compared to the three top art markets of the USA, UK, and China, Japan remains economically and socially stable, and the latent potential for the art market can be considered still to be high. Within the global art market, the scale of the art fair market has almost doubled to $16.5 billion (1.85 trillion yen) from the $8.5 billion of 2010 (The Art Market 2017, 2018, 2019). The results of Art Fair Tokyo are particularly impressive in this context. Since 2011, total exhibitor gallery sales have continued to rise year by year, with Art Fair Tokyo 2019 in March 2019 recording its highest number of visitors (60,717) and total sales (2.97 billion yen from 160 exhibitors). Over five years, sales have more than tripled from the 950 million yen of 2014. Based on the results of the survey, let’s take a look at the current state of the art market in Japan.

The Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey

Survey Reports
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fisical 2019

Organizer:
Agency for Cultural Affairs / Art Tokyo Association
Planning and Survey: Art Tokyo Association
Survey Co-organizer: Platform for Arts and Creativity

■Japan’s Highly Diverse Art Market

In terms of the market for art by type, the top market is nihonga (Japanese-style paintings) (51.3 billion yen), followed by yōga (Western-style paintings) (43.4 billion yen), ceramics (38.2 billion yen), and contemporary art (two dimensions) (31.7 billion yen).

As the global art market and investment opportunities continue to increase, Japan from its location in the most eastern part of Asia has developed a very unique art scene always incorporating elements of international art and culture both geographically and historically. Similarly to how Art Fair Tokyo has pioneered an especially comprehensive model of art fair bringing together everything from antiques to contemporary art in one venue, we can see how the art market in Japan is a stable one comprising not only modern and contemporary art that is the mainstream of the markets in Europe and America, but also firmly rooted in a wide range of types of art with links to Japanese art history, from nihonga to ceramics, crafts, hanging scroll and folding screens, and calligraphy.

An example of the spread of distinctly Japanese types of art to foreign markets can be seen in the exhibition“Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection”held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017. Contemporary Japanese crafts continue to enjoy worldwide attention as art pieces.

■Two Major Markets of Galleries and Department Stores, Plus Growing Online Market

When the art market’s 258 billion yen of sales is viewed by sales channel (Figure 6), there are two main channels of domestic galleries (98.2 billion yen) and department stores (56.7 billion yen), though department stores sales are declining. Other than these two markets, another trend is evident in the year-by-year growth of online purchases. This would indicate that opportunities are on the rise to come into contact with information about art through an open, new, and easily accessible channel, and that consumers used to online shopping and a younger generation with little previous chance to buy art are increasing. Within the global art market, the exhibition and collection record of an artist or artwork increases the value and trust in an artwork. Various businesses have now entered this market with e-commerce and blockchain technology, though what is key here is the extent to which these new business platforms can guarantee security and peace of mind, including the reliability of artworks, paying for the transaction or receiving a refund, and the existence of secondary businesses offering consultation about the process of selling an artwork. Creating reliable art industry platforms and introducing technology for obtaining information openly will surely assure the mid- and long-term expansion of the art market.

■Trending Artists Revealed by Overseas Auctions

Since 2016, art exports from Japan have exceeded more than 30 billionyen. Comparing the rankings for overseas auction sales of Japanese artists in 2016 with those in 2019, the former has Yayoi Kusama at number one with sales close to double those of the artist ranked second, Yoshitomo Nara, though he overtakes Kusama to reach the top rank in 2019. Ranks three and four remain the same in both years’rankings (respectively, Kazuo Shiraga and Léonard/Tsuguharu Foujita). In fifth position, Takashi Murakami’s rank also does not change but his auction sales more than double. With the exception of the consistently eighth-ranked Hiroshi Sugimoto, the artists ranked from six to ten are, in 2016, occupied by Atsuko Tanaka and others associated with the postwar Gutai group, but in 2019, this shifts to Tomoo Gokita, an artist from the next generation, and Katsushika Hokusai, who was featured in a major exhibition at the British Museum in 2017, and On Kawara, who died in 2014 and was exhibited at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In this way, in just few years, we can see the emergence of a wide range of Japanese artists popular overseas, from antiques through to modern art, the postwar avant-garde, and young contemporary artists.

■Art Exports from Japan Reach Record 43 Billion Yen

Exports of artworks from Japan have gone up and down but indicate a general upward trajectory since 2012, reaching a record 43 billion yen in 2018. Though imports continued to shrink until 2011 after their peak of 600 billion yen in 1990, when Japanese buyers purchased art masterpieces from around the world, the trend reversed in 2012 and, as shown in Figure 8, yearly imports have been over 50 billion yen since 2016. In Japan during the 1990s, not only did people buy a lot of Impressionist paintings from around the world, they also purchased many Japanese artists’work. On the other hand, exports of Japanese art were lethargic and remained below 5 billion yen. Even when the value of artworks is recognized in both their country of origin and neighboring regions, an economic crisis results in the disappearance of those people who can support that value, and the artworks no longer receive international recognition. In order to sustain the value of artwork, it is necessary to proactively introduce highly appraised examples to economically successful countries, stabilizing their value internationally by exporting them.

■Art Exports from Japan Reach Record 43 Billion Yen

Exports of artworks from Japan have gone up and down but indicate a general upward trajectory since 2012, reaching a record 43 billion yen in 2018. Though imports continued to shrink until 2011 after their peak of 600 billion yen in 1990, when Japanese buyers purchased art masterpieces from around the world, the trend reversed in 2012 and, as shown in Figure 8, yearly imports have been over 50 billion yen since 2016. In Japan during the 1990s, not only did people buy a lot of Impressionist paintings from around the world, they also purchased many Japanese artists’work. On the other hand, exports of Japanese art were lethargic and remained below 5 billion yen. Even when the value of artworks is recognized in both their country of origin and neighboring regions, an economic crisis results in the disappearance of those people who can support that value, and the artworks no longer receive international recognition. In order to sustain the value of artwork, it is necessary to proactively introduce highly appraised examples to economically successful countries, stabilizing their value internationally by exporting them.

■From Viewing Art as Education to Art for Owning and Inspiring as a Source of Value Creation

In terms of the effects that people said that buying or owning a work of art had, the top result was 1“’Relaxation, change of mood, stress relief”(the response of 72% of people with experience of buying art and 36% of those without experience of buying art), followed by 2“’Perceiving and understanding my own tastes”(buying experience: 69%; no buying experience: 35%), and“Cultivating creativity”(buying experience: 58%; no buying experience: 32%), and,“Education”(buying experience: 55%; no buying experience: 32%). As shown in Figure 9, the people who purchased works of art feel those effects more strongly.

In the business sector, Japanese corporations found their main operations very profitable during the postwar years under their founders and up to the 1980s, with the result that they built up art collections not as something for promoting immediate sales or for publicity, but rather as part of the company’s contributions to society or due to the wishes of the founder. Corporations with superb collections of antiques and crafts as well as corporations that purchased European Impressionist paintings from around the world constructed art museums that were open to the general public. These efforts were deliberately unaware of differentiation or the particular characteristics of each corporation’s businesses, but were rather undertaken for the spread of culture and the arts.

Recent years, however, have seen increasing examples of corporations, especially luxury brands and the real estate industry, developing products in collaboration with artists more closely and strategically tied with their main businesses, actively utilizing art in order to improve the image of the brand and attract customers. For the manufacturing and service industries, technology has spread rapidly and business models become more complex, turning new value creation across fields into a major proposition. So-called design thinking, which emphasizes powers of observation and empathy for discovering business needs and seeds, has developed further and the shelves of bookstores are today filled with publications dealing with the relationship between art and business so that working people can learn from artists about how to think and can bring out their own ideas and originality. Though the importance of management and technical abilities in business and the workplace has long been recognized, the power of art is now being reassessed for its capacity to facilitate varied and innovative ideas and perspectives learned from history and philosophy. Art has gone from being something that is viewed to being something much more familiar for business people, to being something for owning and thinking about.

■Artistic Perspectives as Important for Business and Work as well as Lifestyle

The survey asked around 20,000 people to respond to the statement 1“Art is necessary for enriching life?”and, as shown in Figure 10, the majority (59%) answered affirmatively, clearly indicating that most Japanese people feel that art is necessary for living a rich life. To the statement 2“Art is important for international exchange,”around half (55%) said that they thought it was important. The statements 3“Artistic perspectives are important for improving the appeal of regions/areas,”4“Art should be adequately supported by public money,”and 5“Art is important for enhancing Japan’s national brand”attracted generally positive responses of, respectively, 48%, 45%, and 45%. The link between art and regional tourism and making Japan attractive continues to receive a certain proportion of recognition.

On the other hand, only 34% agreed with the statement 6“Artistic perspectives are important for strengthening industrial competitiveness” and 31% with 7“Artistic perspectives are important for running a business better,”while just 22% agreed with 8“Artistic perspectives are important for my job.”In terms of overall society and regions or the nation, the necessity of art is widely supported, but the importance of artistic perspectives is still not strongly felt in the business world in Japan today. The same survey conducted last year with a demographic defined as

“internationally well-experienced business people”resulted in higher affirmative answers to all statements in comparison with general survey respondents. In particular, as shown in Figure 11, the response to the statement“Artistic perspectives are important for my job”received 44%, more than double the percentage of the general survey samples, and even as high as 55% for internationally well-experienced business people in their twenties. Since the numbers for the younger generation indicate a stronger tendency, we can forecast that as the next generation of internationally well-experienced business people grows older, the importance of art in business will also increase in the future.

■Artistic Perspectives as Important for Business and Work as well as Lifestyle

The survey asked around 20,000 people to respond to the statement 1“Art is necessary for enriching life?”and, as shown in Figure 10, the majority (59%) answered affirmatively, clearly indicating that most Japanese people feel that art is necessary for living a rich life. To the statement 2“Art is important for international exchange,”around half (55%) said that they thought it was important. The statements 3“Artistic perspectives are important for improving the appeal of regions/areas,”4“Art should be adequately supported by public money,”and 5“Art is important for enhancing Japan’s national brand”attracted generally positive responses of, respectively, 48%, 45%, and 45%. The link between art and regional tourism and making Japan attractive continues to receive a certain proportion of recognition.

On the other hand, only 34% agreed with the statement 6“Artistic perspectives are important for strengthening industrial competitiveness” and 31% with 7“Artistic perspectives are important for running a business better,”while just 22% agreed with 8“Artistic perspectives are important for my job.”In terms of overall society and regions or the nation, the necessity of art is widely supported, but the importance of artistic perspectives is still not strongly felt in the business world in Japan today. The same survey conducted last year with a demographic defined as

“internationally well-experienced business people”resulted in higher affirmative answers to all statements in comparison with general survey respondents. In particular, as shown in Figure 11, the response to the statement“Artistic perspectives are important for my job”received 44%, more than double the percentage of the general survey samples, and even as high as 55% for internationally well-experienced business people in their twenties. Since the numbers for the younger generation indicate a stronger tendency, we can forecast that as the next generation of internationally well-experienced business people grows older, the importance of art in business will also increase in the future.

■Platforms for Creating Value and Connecting a Diverse Art Scene with Economics and Society

From antiques to the contemporary, there is a great variety of art in Japan today. Japanese art enthusiasts have not always proactively sought to convey information about art to the outside world. However, interest in the next generation of contemporary artists and contemporary crafts, previously unknown overseas, is growing thanks to galleries actively participating in contemporary art fairs abroad and exhibitions of famous foreign collectors attracted to Japanese antiques and crafts. Responding to natural disasters has become an issue for society across the world and Japan is frequently faced with just this challenge. Various countries are accordingly looking to Japan and how its people deal with nature. European and American curators are starting to adopt ideas similar to ways of thinking that are fully immersed in Japanese culture, not least a symbiosis with nature and a belief in the beauty of utility in crafts, and to harness these when talking about art and anthropology, or the utility of art. Overseas artists who explore these themes in their work, moreover, are also attracting attention.
In 2019, the exhibition“Tea Ceremony”by the New York-based artist Tom Sachs was held at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, incorporating a wide range of elements from fashion to design. The Japanese tea ceremony, in fact, is historically connected to value creation in the art market. Oda Nobunaga took territory, the thing that was until then most prized by barons, and replaced it with tea ceremony items or permits to hold tea ceremonies. The legacy of Sen no Rikyū is his great achievement in raising the value of these tea ceremony utensils to a level higher than territories or domains. When experienced with our contemporary sensibilities, the tea ceremony often seems traditional or conservative, but what Sen no Rikyū and Nobunaga did was create value for the most cutting-edge“contemporary art”of the day. In an era when value was ascribed to territory and money or to imports from China, they valorized things through a wabisuke spirit unique to these new handmade crafts or to the unembellished mode of expression specific to Japan. Creating the very latest cultural and artistic devices or rules in combination with the space, experience, food, and communication of the tea ceremony, they showcased the everyday items and crafts that were then the most contemporary forms of art in Japan. As the tea master for such powerful men as Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, Sen no Rikyū built up people’s trust in these kinds of items and ensured their economic value. The tea ceremony also had a social nature at this time, integrated into people’s lives as a communication tool.
As this survey has indicated over the four years, business people and socially influential people in Japan are beginning to show interest in art across different genre and types from the contemporary to antiques, viewing it not only as a form of education but also as the seeds of creativity. After the Olympics are over, art will continue to have a presence and value. Being able to convey domestically and internationally the various perspectives through which we can discover value not only in Japanese art but also in the art from around the world that comes to Japan, as well as creating and cultivating open platforms for the art industry that can join up art and society and guarantee value and reliability, will surely lead to enhancing the value of the Japanese art scene even further.
Text: Sumiya Hiroaki, Executive Director, Marketing & Communications, Art Fair Tokyo

The Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey

Survey Reports
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Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey 2018
Agency for Cultural Affairs 2018 Art Market Stimulation Program
Survey Organizer: Art Tokyo Association
Survey Co-organizer: Platform for Arts and Creativity
Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey 2017
Survey Organizer: Agency for Cultural Affairs / Art Tokyo Association
Survey Co-organizer: Platform for Arts and Creativity
Supported by Japan Art Dealers’ Association
Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey 2016
Survey Organizer: Art Tokyo Association
Survey Co-organizer: Platform for Arts and Creativity
Supported by Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Japanese Art Industry Market Research Survey 2016
Survey Organizer: Art Tokyo Association
Survey Co-organizer: Platform for Arts and Creativity
Supported by Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)