About our founder Seiji Tsutsumi

About our founder Seiji Tsutsumi

Seiji Tsutsumi giving a speech on behalf of The Saison Foundation, which was awarded the Donald Keene Prize for the Promotion of Japanese Culture, in June 2009.
Photo: Kazushi Momoi

 Seiji Tsutsumi established The Saison Foundation with his private funds in 1987 and served as its first president for twenty-six years until his passing in November 2013. While Tsutsumi is remembered as an entrepreneur who built the conglomerate known as the Saison Group, and as the writer who left numerous works of poetry, novels, etc. under the pen name Takashi Tsujii, he was also a philanthropist who contributed to society. The activities of our foundation, which support artists and their projects without asking for any kind of compensation, embody the ideals of the philanthropist Seiji Tsutsumi and we wish to inherit his spirit throughout the future.


With the year 2000 rapidly approaching, we are gravely concerned about the current position of Japan in world affairs and the role that our nation is expected to play in the new century. Living in the latter part of the twentieth century, we can enjoy the economic prosperity resulting from forty years of hard endeavor since the end of World War II, but in the process of reaching this level we have sacrificed much and we have either lost sight of many of our old values, or their quality and shape have been changed owing to our negligence whilst involved in the race to move ahead. The changes that are occurring in the arts in these final years of the century are demonstrating that our own culture is fast losing its character and traditions. Whilst Japan is considered a major economic power, people tend to regard her as a country of relatively minor cultural significance. These considerations, together with our isolation from international society, suggest some uncertainty about our country’s future.
In order to replenish and reinvigorate the creative power rooted in the soil of Japan, it is essential to infuse our own culture with a host of fresh ideas and allow a free flow of artistic expression to develop abundantly. One significant means to this end is the promotion of international cultural exchange at a highly active level, refreshing our sensibilities and insight to the point where creativity can be restored within the context of contemporary society, and this, in return, should enable us to regain our international perspective.

The objectives of The Saison Foundation shall be (a) to carry out activities conductive to the stimulation of creativity amongst persons or bodies engaged in various fields of art and culture, and (b) to expedite international cultural exchange by the provision of grants such as to Japanese artists wishing to study in foreign countries and to foreign artists desirous of undertaking a period of study in Japan, or to projects inviting foreign artists and groups to show their work or present their performances in Japan. It is our sincere hope that through these activities we shall be able to contribute to the development of culture in our country.

July 1987
Seiji Tsutsumi

The Saison Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to the following Legal Entity Support members and for their generous contributions (as of March 2023/in alphabetical order):