Akihito Nakanishi is a cultural leader and public diplomacy expert with 19 years of experience in government relations, public communication, artistic exchanges, and cultural programming in Japan. He serves as the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education for Portland Japanese Garden.
For 10 years, Nakanishi served as the Cultural Affairs Specialist at the United States Embassy, Tokyo, where he oversaw a wide spectrum of embassy involvement in cultural, creative, and educational activities designed to enhance mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. In addition to being the principal advisor to the Mission’s Cultural Attaché, he also served as a cultural advisor to Ambassadors with the responsibility of directly overseeing some of the Ambassadors’ cultural and education projects such as “Ties Over Time” (under Amb. John V. Roos) and “International Poetry Exchange Project” (under Amb. Caroline B. Kennedy).
Prior to working for the Embassy, Nakanishi worked for three years as Program Director at one of the major media corporations in Tokyo, followed by a role as Exhibition Director for four years at a family-owned museum. Drawing upon this extensive knowledge of the arts, he has worked as an independent art director, producing exhibitions and art fairs (Art Photo Tokyo 2016), co-producing literary events and festivals (Tokyo International Literary Festival, 2012-2018), writing dossiers for arts events in specialty publications and newspapers (Bijutsu Techo, Kobe Shimbun), all while running his own non-profit organization for regional revitalization and youth empowerment, echovisions.
For his work at the Embassy, Nakanishi has received multiple State Department Awards including the State Department Meritorious Honor Award (May 2010), U.S. Embassy Japan Eagle Award (October 2011), and the U.S. Mission Japan Honor Award (October 2016).