19 June 2018

Kizuna – Japanese treasures on show at National Museum Cardiff

The KIZUNA: Japan | Wales | Design exhibition has officially opened at National Museum Cardiff. This trilingual exhibition (Welsh, English and Japanese) will be open all summer, until 9 September, and the word ‘kizuna’ means bonds of friendship in Japanese. The exhibition lets you explore how Japanese culture and design have captivated the rest of the world, and discover the links between Wales and Japan.

Translated information about the word 'kansei' at the Kizuna exhibition

A trilingual sign at the Kizuna exhibition

 by © National Museum Wales

This eclectic exhibition showcases some Japanese treasures and artefacts that are housed in Wales, as well as some amazing items that have never before been seen outside Japan. From cars to ceramics and costumes to painted screens, Kizuna is a wonderful showcase of Japanese art and design. The exhibition is a joint venture by National Museum Cardiff, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, and also the National Museum of Japanese History.

Japanese lacquered coffer on display next to a green Honda Motor Company N600 car

Japanese lacquered coffer and a Honda N600 car

 by © National Museum Wales

This chest is a lacquered coffer from Chirk Castle, north east Wales, and is thought to be the first Japanese object to come to Wales. It has been lent to the exhibition by the National Trust. The coffer was made around 1620, and brought to Wales by Sir Thomas Myddleton 400 years ago. It is displayed next to a green Honda Motor Company N600 car. At first glance these objects could hardly be more different, but in fact they have a lot in common. Both show how Japan’s high level of innovation and design has captured the global imagination. Four hundred years ago Europeans clamoured to acquire Japanese lacquer and porcelain, while Japanese cars and consumer technologies have become the must-haves of today.

A woman sitting down next to a Honda C100 motorbike, watching a film about Japan

Honda C100 motorbike

 by © National Museum Wales

Another example of modern Japanese technology and design on show is this Honda C100 motorbike, and you can also take a seat and watch a film about modern Japan.

A small Japanese doll on display at the Kizuna exhibition

Japanese doll

 by © National Museum Wales

This small Japanese doll was presented to the Welsh Rugby Union during the Japanese national team's 1983 tour to Wales.

A bird's eye view depiction of Edo (Tokyo) on a folding screen

A depiction of Edo (Tokyo) on a folding screen

 by © National Museum Wales

One of the many highlights of the Kizuna exhibition is this large folding screen depicting 18th century Edo (modern day Tokyo). It gives a bird's eye view of the city and the people who lived there, with a very detailed depiction of the everyday lives of its inhabitants. This is the first time it has ever been seen outside Japan.

Multicoloured porcelain rice bowls on display

Porcelain rice bowls by Masahiro Mori for Hakusan Porcelain

 by © National Museum Wales

These beautiful porcelain rice bowls were designed by Masahiro Mori for Hakusan Porcelian, a company which was founded in 1779.

Six modern Japanese posters on display at the Kizuna exhibition

Modern Japanese posters

 by © National Museum Wales

As well as items of historical value, there are also many examples of modern Japanese design, such as these posters. There's also a Zen garden for you to enjoy a moment of calm.