One of the most interesting, and often understated AND unappreciated part of the Setouchi are the volunteers who give up their time, energy, and generosity of spirit to welcome, help, and guide visitors to this incredible art experience.

It’s easy to breeze into town and go to your hotel and hang out until you catch a ferry to see cool art. It all seems so seamless and smooth. But it is probably that way because a whole lot of kind people got together and wanted to do everything they could to help you have that seamless and smooth experience. And some of them are volunteers.

It’s really quite beautiful, and very much in keeping with the spirit of people who live in Kagawa. This spirit of hospitality is sometimes called “omotenashi”, and is a deeply authentic and beautiful concept that is intricately linked with Japanese culture, and identity as participating within a society.

Here are some details on the volunteers who make the Setouchi Triennale run so smooth.

https://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/support/koebi.html

And here is a link to anyone who may wish to come to Kagawa to act as a volunteer with this remarkable program.

https://www.koebi.jp/news/events/entry-1617.html

I like this page’s explanation of “omotenashi”. It is the subjugation of the self to service, but not in a way that denies the existence of “self”. It is a hard concept to understand, and seemingly some “proud” cultures, particular those of haute cuisine, haute culture, and self-importance fail to understand this key concept for Japanese life. It’s unfortunate, but the Japanese fantastic sense of service before self, and self as one who is part of a greater service to others continues. I absolutely love that.

https://www.toki.tokyo/blogt/2015/6/24/omotenashi-japanese-serving-philosophy