Tama Art University


Tama Art University, the oldest private art educational institution in Japan, was founded in 1934, at a time when there were only two state-run educational institutions of art in the country, and no private art colleges of any kind.

In the first Tama Art University prospectus, the founders stated that "as art is the product of a free mind, we intend to provide private art education that will contribute to the development of art in this country." Their statement was clearly a declaration of independence in the field of art education.

Ever since its foundation, Tama Art University has encouraged freedom of expression and at the same time stressed the importance of discipline and individual responsibility. The university intends to maintain this balance into the 21st century, and to continue to make a major contribution to art education in Japan.


A Short History of Tama Art University

1934 Tama Imperial Art School established at the current site of the Kaminoge Campus as a five-year institution with four departments ( Japanese Painting, Western Painting, Design, and Sculpture ).

1937 Women permitted to enroll for the first time.

1945 School buildings destroyed by war.

1947 Instruction resumed at Mizonokuchi temporary quarters. In accordance with the School Education Law, the institution became Tama Drawing and Art School with three departments (Art,  Architecture, and Handicrafts).

1950 Tama Art Junior College with three departments (Painting, Sculpture, and Art & Design ) added.
Instruction resumed at the reopened Kaminoge Campus.

1953 In accordance with the change in the Education Law, the institution became a four-year University with three departments (Painting, Sculpture, and Design).

1955 Tama Art Junior College closed.

1964 Graduate school founded. First private art university to establish a graduate school offering courses leading to the master's degree.

1969 Addition of two new departments (Architecture, and Art Science). Main building constructed at the Hachioji Campus.

1971 Newly admitted students enrolled at the Hachioji Campus. Architecture Department admits students for the first time. The undergraduate departments of the university begin to move to the new campus of Hachioji. Extensive construction of facilities begins and continues through 1974.

1981 Students admitted to Art Science Department for the first time.

1982 Art Reference Collection Center was officially recognized as a university museum.

1986 Celebration of the university's fiftieth anniversary.

1989 Art & Design Evening Division opend at the Kaminoge Campus with three departments (Painting, Design, and Drama & Movie)

1998 Addition of four new departments (Ceramic-Glass-Metai Works, Product Design, Enviromental Design, and Information Design). Design building, Sculpture building, and Craft building constructed at the Hachioji Campus.  Faculty of Art and Communication, Evening Division opend at the Kaminoge Campus with three departments (Fine Art, Communication Design, and Moving Images and Parforming Art).

1999 Textile building constructed at the Hachioji Campus.



Faculty of Art and Design


Japanese Painting Couse, Department of Painting

Glue, powder, rock, pigments, Indian ink, metal foil, paper; these are the materials of Japanese painting. Then there are the various drawing and painting tools, and techniques influenced by tradition. Learning how to make effective use of such materials, tools, and techniques requires considerable patience and ambition on the part of a student. The problem is compounded by insufficient attention given to Japanese painting in elementary, junior high, and senior high schools.

Certainly, traditional elements of Japanese painting may appear incompatible with key concepts in modern western art, for example in color and composition. However, this should not be seen as a problem, but rather a means of creating new art; one based on tradition, but with a fresh, contemporary voice.

Japanese painting should not be regarded as just one style of painting, one which uses glue as an adhesive medium; it should include all aspects of traditional oriental painting, such as Indian ink drawing, Chinese-style painting, southern-style painting, and miniature works of the Kano school. Careful consideration of the nature of Japanese painting can help us to make relevant, vibrant works in the future.

Doubtless, young people will bring their talent, energy, and enthusiasm to the task of tackling the uncertainties that exist in today's Japanese painting, and in so doing, will build a foundation for the future. For this reason, it is imperative that students remain flexible and progressive, believe in freedom of expression, and demonstrate their individuality in their studies.


Oil Painting Course, Department of Painting

The current diversification of artistic expression provides countless opportunities for creating works outside the conventional concepts of art; consequently art students today take for granted the freedom to explore every aspect of art practice. In response to this, the Department of Oil Painting offers a class selection system which allows students to freely determine the direction of their studies. All creative work in the department, however, has the same dual aim: to develop an aesthetic consciousness that responds readily to contemporary society, and the pursuit of beauty through the exploration of a wide variety of media.

It is important for each student to develop a personal view of the world that questions such notions as nature, reality, identity, existence, and relativity. There are two other essentials: to acquire a deep perception of the fundamental elements of visual art, such as light, texture, color, point, line, and plane; and to prepare a sound theoretical basis for one's creative practice. The student should also learn to recognize how much the vibrancy of a work of art depends on an aesthetic sensitivity that is enhanced by a broad knowledge of, for example, the diverse cultures of the world (including the student's own), various natural phenomena, and developments in science and technology.

Throughout the course, students work closely with professors who are leading practitioners in their fields. Conversations between faculty and students, critique sessions, off-campus trips, and the exchange of views with fellow students are all valuable stimuli and sources of encouragement. The free, active atmosphere of the department, with its emphasis on individuality and a broad approach to visual expression, encourages the student to develop the qualities necessary for continuing creative work after graduation.


Printmaking Course, Department of Painting

Printmaking is quite different from drawing or painting directly on canvas, and indirect printing methods provide the contemporary artist with a wide variety of expressive techniques which include woodblock printing, wood-engraving, etching, mezzotint, drypoint, lithography, wood-cut lithography, and silkscreen. Modern Japanese prints are highly regarded in other countries, and one reason for this is the long history of art printing dating back to Ukiyoe; also, a number of widely-used innovative printing techniques were developed in Japan.

In contrast to the unique object that is a traditional painting, a print can be produced in large numbers in the manner of certain present-day mass-media. This, together with the wide variety of printing techniques available, expands the range of opportunities for self-expression in bold and original ways, and enables printmakers to present a clear and fresh image of contemporary society.

The printmaking course offers a context for creative training which aims at the cultivation of the mind, the training of the eye, and the acquisition of technique. Students learn how to become producers of art by considering problems from different angles, thinking in various ways, combining techniques, and producing fresh and creative work. For the creative artist, training in both sensitivity and intellect is essential.


Department of Sculpture

As sculptors, we are heirs to a tradition that forms an invaluable record of the lives of our ancestors. Of the many lessons we can learn from this magnificent heritage, perhaps the most important is this: we must observe our present society with the eyes of a contemporary artist and express our vision in an appropriate manner. After all, even though we may think that the clothes of a century ago were very elegant, we would never dream of wearing them today. Modern industry has produced many new types of materials, such as steel, cement, plastics, and aluminum. These new materials have not only brought significant changes to our lifestyles, but have also affected our notion of what sculpture is and can be. It is imperative that we use new materials and technology to create new, relevant sculptural images for our present-day society.

Students in the Department of Sculpture acquire basic skills by working with shapes observed in nature and undergo instruction in various practical techniques. They then proceed to more personal areas of self-expression. Student-faculty relations are essential for the exchange of ideas and the development of sculptural concepts; however, although the faculty are always ready to give advice and guidance to students, it is important for each student to develop an independent, self-sufficient attitude towards sculptural practice.


Department of Ceramic, Glass and Metal Works

The making of an object used to include the planning of it. The individual who wished to make an object would have to think about the reason for making it, what to make, how to make it, and which materials to use. With the pursuit of efficiency and mass production in modern society, the process of making an object has become divided into separate steps. The result is that in contemporary society, people often have no interest in making something themselves, and pay no attention to how an object is made. Generally speaking, the human process of directly making something has come to be regarded as a secondary act or hobby. In addition, the 20th century has seen the development of technologically advanced societies in which our sense of the real has been challenged by advances in electronic communications and virtual reality.

The Department of Ceramic, Glass and Metal Design objects to such a situation and seeks to promote the production of individually-crafted objects in ceramics, glass, and metal that are relevant to today's society. In order to do this, we must help our students to consider carefully the needs of individuals in contemporary life, and how these needs can be satisfied.

Our courses, which are difficult to classify in conventional terms, enjoy a world-wide reputation and have produced artists of major stature in the fields of ceramics, glass and metal design. One of our major aims is to encourage a new, truly international approach to three-dimensional work; neither the traditional Japanese approach, nor the accepted attitudes of western-style aesthetics. Graduates of the department may become artists or craftspeople working out of their own studios and workshops, members of design workshops or companies, or educators.


Department of Graphic Design

In recent years, the rapid development of computer technology has brought with it digitalization, multimedia, networking, global-scale operation, and internationalization in the fields of artistic expression, production, and media. To meet the demands of these drastic changes in the purposes and methods of communication, instruction in graphic design can no longer be limited to print media, but must include such areas as information processing technology, theory and techniques of digital media, and the study of information users.

The Department of Graphic Design prepares students to become information communication designers who are not only creative, but can plan and oversee projects effectively. For this purpose, they need a broad general knowledge, an open-minded approach to problem solving, sound judgment, and a thoughtful personality.

The department offers four courses: the Advertising Design Course, which gives instruction in advertising design, creative direction, corporate identity design, and package design; the Advertising Film Design Course, focusing on planning, creating, directing, and editing commercials; the Communication Design Course, devoted to editorial design, typography, 3D graphics, and computer graphics; and the Expression Design Course, which offers instruction in illustration and photography.


Product Design Course, Department of Product Design

Japanese industry is making remarkable advances, and we are now seeing the development of many new types of business activity which display a synergistic fusion of material and intellectual processes. Product design has become an increasingly important factor in this trend, helping to create a more practical, attractive, and caring society. In our view, instruction in product design should have two fundamental aims: first, to bring technology into harmony with the natural environment and human society; and second, to strike a balance between materialistic and spiritual philosophies.

The product design curriculum is organized to help students develop their potential as product designers and acquire a high level of professional knowledge and skill. An important feature of the curriculum are the many design research projects carried out in conjunction with the Design Research Center on campus. These often involve cooperative research with industry and joint research with other universities.

Graduates have found employment in various fields, for example in companies producing automobiles, machinery, household appliances, or information and medical equipment. Some are working for educational institutions, public organizations, or research laboratories. Others are continuing their studies, either in Japan or abroad, or may have founded their own design offices, or may be working on a free-lance basis.


Textile Design Course, Department of Product Design

From primitive cultures to today's international technological society, textiles have played a vital part in the human environment. It could be said that the design and manufacture of textiles are among the most basic of human activities. Certainly, Japan has a long and rich tradition in dyeing and weaving from which the contemporary textile artist and designer can learn a great deal.

Today, textile design extends beyond the conventional, narrow definition of the term, and ranges from fabric design for clothing to a wide variety of uses of fabric in architectural environments. The development of new fiber materials has fostered to an awareness of new kinds of beauty, and experimental approaches to dyeing and weaving have given rise to fiber art which explores new concepts of plane, volume, and space.

The Department of Textile Design prepares students for their roles as professional textile designers or artists by stressing the value of a broad knowledge of the history of the medium, as well as practical ability in traditional dyeing and weaving skills. It encourages students to develop a sensitive, creative, and broad-minded approach to their practice and to actively exploit the possibilities of contemporary technology and society in general.

Graduates of the department are now working as artists, designers, or planners. They may be working in the fashion industry, for interior fabric manufacturers, apparel makers, textile manufacturers, trading companies, wholesalers, and so on. Alternatively, they may be continuing their studies at colleges or graduate schools abroad.


Department of Environmental Design

Throughout history, human beings have adapted to and responded to a variety of natural, social, and cultural environments, and in the process have constructed towns, cities, and entire civilizations. In every case, the development of the self has been the primary aim.

In the modern era, large scale architectural projects are the norm, and the design of facilities for daily life is often approached in a piecemeal, haphazard manner; environmental problems are often the result. However, contemporary design should not be thought of as simply a continuation of traditional approaches, in which answers to problems are sought on an ad hoc basis, but an activity which involves responsibility for the creation of a better world environment in which every project, whatever its scale, is an interlocking, integral part of the whole.

In order to discover the appropriate balance of artificial and natural features that can create a pleasant, stimulating environment, it is necessary to possess a solid grounding in such disciplines as engineering, biology, and ecology. It is also imperative to think in terms of both interior and exterior contexts. To answer these needs, the Department of Environmental Design offers a broad curriculum. A noteworthy feature is a campus network which facilitates collaborative activities in which students monitor the environment, identify and deal with problems, and carry out design projects.

Graduates may become landscape designers, architects, or total planners; occupations in which they can respond to the demands of society and exercise their knowledge of ecology, technology, and art.


Department of Information Design

The development of digital information technology has resulted in two revolutionary achievements: the combination of audio and visual information in the form of multimedia, and the establishment of a worldwide interactive communication network. The potential of these new ways of conveying information and expressing ideas is enormous, and will doubtless encourage new attitudes towards knowledge and communication.

In the field of art and design, the introduction of new technology has radically altered fundamental concepts of expression. Traditional art education, with its emphasis on individuality and intuition, is no longer sufficient. A new approach is needed; one which combines training in an analytical, scientific and technical way of thinking with the more traditional tendency of exploring individual expression. To this end, it is necessary to reconsider the established boundaries between engineering, design, and liberal arts courses.

The Department of Information Design offers an educational program that is especially suited to students who see themselves as both artists and engineers and who wish to take an active role in exploring the rapidly changing interface between art and technology.

After graduation, students are presented with a wide variety of career options in the information design field. They may choose to become designers of telecommunications or computer game software, automobiles, household appliances or computer hardware. Or they may decide to work in the construction industry, the news and entertainment media, or educational institutions and government agencies such as museums, art galleries, and digitized libraries.


Department of Art Science

The Department of Art Science offers a systematic study of art and culture which takes into account the rapidly changing nature of contemporary society. The first year places emphasis on a basic understanding of various aspects of art history, such as the history of western and Japanese art. Following this, students select a genre for closer study, for example fine art, design, literature, film, drama, performance, architecture, or fashion. However, these studies are not restricted to the respective field; students are encouraged to view their chosen genre in relation to other areas of art and design, and society as a whole. To this end, the course offers a variety of campus events such as exhibitions, film performances, and symposia, many of which are organized by the students themselves. Off-campus events include gallery, museum, and theater visits.

One of the most important developments in contemporary art has been the change in the concept of the art 'consumer' from passive viewer, reader, or listener, to active participant. Interactive art, of course, requires one or more participants to actively engage with the artist in forming the work of art. However, it is now generally believed that even in a traditional gallery setting, a painting, for example, is not complete without the viewer and what he or she brings to the process of looking. Those whose job it is to disseminate art must strive to facilitate this kind of active participation and also recognize that their own role in bringing together artists and their public is an integral part of the realization of works of art.

Some examples of the varied career opportunities open to Art Science graduates are: art coordinator in a commercial enterprise; official in an art museum, government agency or public organization; print media editor; scriptwriter for film and TV; and film, performance, or event producer. Other possibilities include product development planner, advertising art director, art gallery clerical employee, art researcher, and art critic.


Subjects for General Education

Ever since its inception, Tama Art University has maintained a tradition of respect for theory. As part of this tradition, the Department of General Education is concerned with all aspects of the relationship with art and culture, and aims to provide students with both a broad understanding of cultural context as well as opportunities for detailed theoretical research into particular areas.

In the field of art education, developing individual identity and fostering creativity are essential factors; however, concentrating solely on practical skill and ignoring social and theoretical issues will undoubtedly limit a student's ability to accomplish significant results in his or her future career. Our aim is to balance practical ability, art and design theory, and general cultural studies, thus encouraging students to take an active part in society, and approach their lives with an original, expressive, but critical attitude. To this end, the course offered by the Department of General Education show a careful balance between special and non-specialist areas of study.

The non-specialist syllabus of the department prepares students to become responsible, informed members of society by encouraging an awareness of fundamental social issues. Students can choose from a wide range of courses on a variety of topics. In terms of specialist education, the department provides an extensive range of courses which are designed to cultivate a deeper understanding of the students' practical studies and strengthen their theoretical understanding of the diverse activities in the field of contemporary art.

By reacting promptly to changes in society and remaining responsive to the needs and wishes of the students, the Department of General Education aims to provide a variety of relevant, enriching courses for the future artist and designer.



Faculty of Art and Communication


Department of Fine Art, Evening Division

One of the driving forces that injects vitality into artistic culture is the competition among visual artists to demonstrate their powers of expression and creativity. One aim of the painting course is to show how this energy can be utilized to enhance an individual's search for a productive and fulfilling life; an equally important aim is to provide an environment in which students can form a solid basis for a continuing search into the possibilities of visual art. By developing their appreciation of the visual languages of other cultures, and heightening their awareness of their own, students are encouraged to pursue new approaches to painting.

Instruction is given in art history, cultural history, color theory, painting theory and other relevant subjects. These areas of study help students to gain a good understanding of the basic principles underlying visual expression. Although a clear boundary is drawn between Japanese-style painting and western-style oil painting in conventional art education, the Department of Fine Art draws no such boundary, and the department offers classes in the traditions and techniques of both styles.

Students are also encouraged to exchange ideas with their counterparts in other departments, and to make use of the latest developments in computer technology; in this way, they can learn to recognize the possibilities of new modes of expression, and see beyond conventional concepts of painting. The primary objective of the department is to produce graduates whose broad understanding and knowledge of the visual arts will enable them to become visual artists, art advisors to public facilities, art museum officials, or art therapists.


Department of Communication Design, Evenind Division

Design is an integral part of contemporary life; the transfer of information, the production and marketing of consumer goods, and the management of environmental space are examples of activities in which the designer plays a vital role.

Recent changes in the structure of Japanese industry have caused a shift from a hardware-oriented attitude to a software-oriented one.  One result of this is the increasing use of computer technology in the field of design, and the expansion of digital technology-based design into fields such as information services, printing, publishing, digital media, product design, and architectural and environmental design.

The Department of Communication Design provides opportunities for students to study different aspects of contemporary design, based on fundamental concepts of design and communication. Students are trained in computer-assisted digital design techniques, and receive a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of design. The goal of the department is to develop creative design professionals whose expressive ability is based on a confident command of state-of-the-art technology, comprehensive general knowledge, independent thought, sensibility, and creativity. We believe that designers such as these will be best able to serve society's design needs, and help pioneer new developments in the field of design.


Department of Moving Images and Parforming Arts, Evenind Division

We enter the 21st century with a highly-developed economy and a mature society; and as a result of the rapid development of communication technology, various frameworks within society are being modified and integrated. Artistic expression is one if these frameworks, and has undergone tremendous changes in recent years.

The Department of Moving Images and Performing Art aims to develop talented individuals who can create unique forms of artistic expression by combining mind, body, and technique. Instruction is given in three main areas: image expression, body expression, and space expression. The objective is to help students develop the power to express themselves in a context where the axes of space and time intersect.

The new century poses two primary challenges to both moving image and theater culture; namely, maintaining a harmony between state-of-the-art technology and human nature, and exploring the complexities of the interaction between the producer and consumer of a work of art. With these challenges in mind, the department aims to develop a wide variety of creative individuals, for example artists and directors working in the medium of film and video, stage and screen performers, and stage directors. The department also provides training for production designers, and those planning a career in management and promotion.


Subjects for General Education, Evening Division

The general education program is intended to provide a holistic humanist education that complements the specialist courses provided by other departments. The program is designed to encourage students not only to become skilled professionals in the field of art and design, but also members of society who can make independent, considered judgments based on a broad understanding of the world.

The program attempts to realize this objective: by providing education in the basic principles of art and beauty, together with wide-ranging studies of nature and society. The overall theme of the program is 'nature and human beings'; students are encouraged to view issues from a global viewpoint, with particular reference to our relation to and effect on the environment. Course subjects include foreign languages, sociology, physical education, painting, aesthetics, art history, and so on.

An important element of the current program is the concept of joint research, which is carried out in cooperation with each major course and sets up a starting point for creative work by the students. This represents a new direction for the department, and one that we hope to further explore in the future.