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Up-Close and Personal: Curators' Treasures new
Seikatsu Kogei: Objects For Intentional Living Exhibition Organised by The Japan Foundation, Sydney new
The Japan Foundation Touring Exhibition:
The Superlative Artistry of Japan
UK-JAPAN Bridge Together Project
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk Exhibition at the V&A

Up-Close and Personal: Curators' Treasures   org


After nearly 3 months of enduring lockdown, museums and galleries in some parts of the UK are finally being given the go ahead to reopen and welcome visitors. Treasures will once again see the light of the day, inviting the curiosity of their viewers. Despite the great efforts of their curators, it is a common fact that each displayed object comprises only a part of a museum’s entire collection. For Japanese collections, this sometimes means that many fascinating objects may not have their chance to be shown often, however curators look for ways to make them accessible to audiences through store visits, talks, publications and online presentations.

In light of this, and reflecting on current circumstances, the Japan Foundation has invited a number of curators from various museums and art galleries in England to introduce their “favourite Japanese objects” which you may have never come across before, in this on-line seminar. These curators are Janet Boston, Rosie Gnatiuk, Clare Pollard, Kate Newnham, and Rachel Barclay. From antiquity to modern design, they will explain the reasons for their love as well as reveal the story of the objects which you may never have known otherwise.

Further, together with Yoshi Miki, who has done extensive research on Japanese collections in the UK, as moderator, they will discuss the ways in which objects of Japanese culture in museums and galleries, including their favourites, should be made the most of in the scope of the coming “new normal”.

Join us to hear these curators’ passion and to consider together the ways in which we should cherish our treasures.



Yoshi Miki, Curatorial Consultant, and Visiting Professor, National Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, oversees the UK project “Research and Use of overseas Japanese artefacts and documents", funded by the National Institute for the Humanities since 2011. He co-curated a special exhibition "KIZUNA Japan Wales Design" at the National Museum Wales in 2018. He worked for Museums in the US and Canada for many years before he became Head of Curatorial at Kyushu National Museum in 2002-2006. He lives in San Francisco.



Dr Clare Pollard is Curator of Japanese Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University ’s museum of art and archaeology and Britain’s first public museum. The Ashmolean is home to an extensive collection of Japanese art, including ceramics, lacquer, paintings, prints, sword furniture and decorative arts of the Meiji era (1868-1912). Clare’s research has focused mainly on Meiji art, while in recent years she has developed a series of exhibitions and catalogues of the Ashmolean’s Japanese print collections.

Kate Newnham is Senior Curator, Visual Arts at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. In addition to leading the art team she has curatorial responsibility for the Asian art collection, Designated as being of national/international importance. There are over 1,200 Japanese objects in the collection with highlights being netsuke, 18th-century woodblock prints and porcelain from the Irene Finch collection. Recently Kate has worked on a successful series of Japanese print exhibitions and an associated haiku competition.

Rachel Barclay is Curator of the Oriental Museum, Durham University. Rachel has led the programme to redisplay all of the Museum’s permanent galleries as well as managing the museum’s programme of temporary exhibitions and art installations. She has overseen the expansion of the Japanese collections with the acquisition of major new collections of prints and ceramics. She is currently partnering with the National Museum of Japanese History on an exhibition and catalogue for a collection of Japanese woodblock prints.

Janet Boston is Curator of Craft and Design, and Rosie Gnatiuk is Curator of Costume at the Manchester Art Gallery. The Gallery is the original useful museum, initiated in 1823 by artists, as an educational institution to ensure that the city and all its people grow with creativity, imagination, health and productivity. The gallery’s Japanese collections include ceramics, metalwork, glass, furniture, lighting, fashion and prints. The gallery has recently acquired contemporary Japanese work in all of these subjects except prints.


Image credits (left to right):

Starry Night Trail, 2009 by Ayako Tani, glass ©️Manchester Art Gallery

Porcelain vase with 'peach bloom, glaze, H.6.4cm, Gift of Sir Herbert and Lady Ingram, EA1956.682 ©️Ashmolean Museum

The Battle of Komaki: Kato Kiyomasa and Honda Tadakatsu, 1899, by Chikanobu Yōshū ©︎Oriental Museum

The objects represented in the image above are not necessarily the ones which will be discussed during the event.


Please note that this session will be hosted on Zoom.

Date: 5 August 2020 from 6.00pm

For more information, please click here.
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Seikatsu Kogei: Objects For Intentional Living Exhibition Organised by The Japan Foundation, Sydney   org

Organised by The Japan Foundation, Sydney, Seikatsu Kogei: Objects for Intentional Living explores the Japanese craft movement that began in the 1990s known as Seikatsu Kogei, or lifestyle crafts. See how the works of Seikatsu Kogei artists re-examine our relationship to the objects in our lives, presented together in Australia for the first time.

Included in this exhibition are some 50 works by 22 currently-active Seikatsu Kogei artists. The objects on display are made from a variety of materials, including wood, ceramics, lacquer, glass, metal, bamboo, paper and clay.

Due to the unexpected closure of The Japan Foundation Sydney gallery as a result of COVID-19, the Seikatsu Kogei: Objects for Intentional Living exhibition is now available to view online. We invite you to enjoy the exhibition virtually by clicking here.

Please note that the end date of the exhibition may be subject to change.

Date: 21 February 2020 - 31 July 2020
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The Japan Foundation Touring Exhibition:
The Superlative Artistry of Japan


This exhibition captures Japan’s creative culture and monozukuri spirit through the theme of “superlative artistry,” which refers to the exceptional methods and techniques used. Starting with the craft works from the Meiji era, the exhibition features 38 items across a wide range of genres, including contemporary art, craft works, food samples, and shokugan (small toys sold with candy).  

This is the only chance to see this popular exhibition in the UK, don't miss it!

Update: The official exhibition catalogue is now available for viewing online completely free of charge. Simply click on the PDF icon below and enjoy the exhibition from home!

Date: 18 January 2020 - 19 April 2020

Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Crescent, Salford M5 4WU

Download Exhibition Catalogue



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UK-JAPAN Bridge Together Project   org


UK-JAPAN Bridge Together Project: Sakubei Yamamoto Coal Mining Paintings World Tour

As part of the Beyond 2020 programme, the Bridge Together Project is exhibiting the coal mining paintings of Sakubei Yamamoto which have been registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World – the first Japanese artefacts to receive the honour. The exhibition will tour cities around the world in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.


Date: 4 October – 15 November 2019

Venue: Embassy of Japan, 101-104 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7JT


Date: 14 September 2019 – 30 September 2020

Venue: Big Pit National Coal Museum, Pontypool NP4 9XP, Wales

Sakubei Yamamoto Coal Mining Paintings World Tour

Date: 4 October 2019 - 30 September 2020

For more information, please click here.



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Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk Exhibition at the V&A   JPsupported
Fashionable brocade patterns of the Imperial Palace, woodblock print, made by Utagawa Kunisada, 1847-1852, Japan. Museum no. Circ.636 to Circ. 638– 1962. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fashionable brocade patterns of the Imperial Palace, woodblock print, made by Utagawa Kunisada, 1847-1852, Japan. Museum no. Circ.636 to Circ. 638– 1962. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Stunning 17th-century Japanese garments, international haute couture and costumes from Star Wars come together in a major V&A exhibition on kimono fashion.

The V&A has created Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono. The ultimate symbol of Japan, the kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will counter this conception, presenting the garment as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion.

The exhibition will reveal the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Rare 17th and 18thcentury kimono will be displayed for the first time in the UK, together with fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan will also be explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.

Highlights of the exhibition include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar. Designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano will reveal the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers. Paintings, prints, film, dress accessories and other objects will feature throughout the exhibition, providing additional context to the fascinating story of the style, appeal and influence of the kimono. Over 315 works will be featured, including kimono especially made for the show, half drawn from the V&A’s superlative collections and the rest generously lent by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk begins in the mid-17th century when a vibrant fashion culture emerged in Japan. The increasingly wealthy merchant classes demanded the latest styles to express their affluence, confidence and taste, while leading actors and famous courtesans were the trend-setters of the day. The simple structure of the kimono focussed attention on the surface, allowing for the creation of sumptuous patterns using sophisticated techniques. The first section of the exhibition will explore these designs and shine a light on a fashion-conscious society not dissimilar to today’s, in which desire for the latest look was fed by a cult of celebrity and encouraged by makers, sellers and publishers.

Kimono were first exported to Europe in the mid-17th century, where they had an immediate impact on clothing styles. Foreign fabrics were also brought to Japan and incorporated into kimono. Rare survivors from this early period of cultural exchange, including garments made in Japan for the Dutch and kimono tailored from French brocade and Indian chintz, will be displayed to reveal the fluid fashion relationship between East and West that resulted from the global trade network.

The late 19th century saw a world-wide craze for Japanese art and design. Kimono bought from department stores such as Liberty & Co. in London were worn by those wishing to express their artistic flair. Japan responded by making boldly embroidered ‘kimono for foreigners’, while the domestic market was transformed by the use of European textile technology and chemical dyes. The kimono’s biggest impact on western fashion came in the early 20th century, when designers such as Paul Poiret, Mariano Fortuny and Madeleine Vionnet abandoned tightly-corseted styles in favour of loose layers of fabric that draped the body.

The final section of the exhibition will show how the kimono has continued to inspire fashion designers around the world. The potential of the garment to be translated and transformed is seen in designs by Thom Browne, Duro Olowu and Yohji Yamamoto. The kimono’s timeless, universal quality has also made it the ideal costume for film and performance. The display will include the outfit worn by Toshirō Mifune in Sanjūrō, Oscar-winning costumes from Memoirs of a Geisha, and the Jean Paul Gautier ensemble worn by Madonna in her video Nothing Really Matters. Japan itself is currently witnessing a resurgence of interest in kimono. Jōtarō Saitō designs kimono couture for the catwalk, Hiroko Takahashi seeks to bridge the divide between art and fashion, and more casual styles are created by small, independent studios such as Rumi Rock and Modern Antenna.

Anna Jackson, curator of Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A, said: ‘From the sophisticated culture of 17th -century Kyoto to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk, the kimono is unique in its aesthetic importance and cultural impact giving it a fascinating place within the story of fashion.’


Captured just before the V&A museum closed it's doors for lockdown, follow the Japan Foundation supported exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk as its curator Anna Jackson leads an intimate 5-part tour through the exhibition spaces, providing a behind the scene look at the show, star exhibits and the history of the kimono.

Take a deeper look at all five parts by following the links below:

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4    Part 5

Date: 29 February 2020 - 21 June 2020

For more information, please click here.
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