Explore highlights of our Japanese collection, from tiny netsuke to cutting edge designs, superb ceramics to Ainu artefacts.
The Japanese cultural collection encompasses archaeology, woodblock prints, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, swords and sword fittings, armour, musical instruments, Buddhist items, lacquer, miniature arts, including medicine cases (inrō) and toggles (netsuke), and contemporary studio arts.
Prints and paintings | Archaeology | Ainu objects | Ceramics | Arms and armour | Clothing and textiles | Lacquerware | Buddhist artefacts | 19th century collection | 20th century and contemporary Japan | The collection on display
Woodblock print by Ohara Koson, Japan, 1930 © Ohara Koson.
From Japan’s early modern period the most substantial representation is pictorial art, with around 4,000 colour woodblock prints dating from the 19th century. These were part of a joint purchase with the South Kensington Museum (today’s Victoria and Albert Museum) in 1887. They cover the four major print genres — warriors, landscapes, beauties and theatre — with the majority of works being by the renowned artists Kuniyoshi, Kunisada and Hiroshige. The group also includes some woodblock-printed books, numbering about 30 titles. More recently, collecting has aimed to increase the representation of early modern paintings, in hanging scroll, handscroll, album and folding screen formats.
The slideshow below shows a selection of prints and paintings from our collection.
Colour woodblock print, depicting the Kabuki actor Segawa Roko III as the ghost of the courtesan Sumizome-sakura, in the play 'The Snowbound Barrier (Tsumoru koi yuki no seki no to)', from the print series 'Parallels for the 36 Immortal Poets (Mitate sanjurokkasen no uchi)'; by Utagawa Kunisada, 1852.
Colour woodblock print, depicting the Kabuki actor Otani Tomoemon V as Sazanami the courtesan, in the play 'Drawing a Crowd for the Chorus at the Two Theatres (Koe mo sorou ryōza no ōyose)', from the print series 'Actors for the Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety (Yakusha nijushi ko)'; by Toyohara Kunichika, 1868.
Colour woodblock print, depicting the Kabuki actor Seki Sanjuro II as Tenjin striking a defiant attitude during a dance piece, in the play 'The Fragrance of the Courtesan’s Spirit (Keisei hangonko)', from the print series 'Farewell Dance of Ōtsu-e Pictures (O-nagori Ōtsu-e shosagoto no uchi)'; Japan, by Utagawa Kunisada, 1826.
Colour woodblock print, depicting the Kabuki actor Ichimura Kakitsu IV as Misao no Takeshichi, a character relating to the fishing industry; by Utagawa Kunisada, 1863.
Colour woodblock print, depicting the Kabuki actor Kawarasaki Gonjuro I as Watonai, in the play 'The Battles of Coxinga (Kokusenya kassen)', from the print series 'Thirty-six Selected Floral Parallels (Tosei mitate sanjurokkasen)'; by Utagawa Kunisada, 1861.
Colour woodblock print entitled Nasuno no susuki Tamamo-no-mae (Pampas Grass of Nasu Moor: Tamamo-no-mae) depicting the Kabuki actor Iwai Kumesaburo III, from the series Tosei mitate sanjurokkasen (Selection of Thirty-six Contemporary Floral Parallels): by Utagawa Kunisada, Japan, 1862.
Colour woodblock triptych print depicting the Kabuki actors Onoe Kikugorō V as Megumi Sakagorō grasping two swords, Ichikawa Sadanji I as Kuzō, and Nakamura Shikan IV as Shakki Dengorō, baring his arm: Japan, by Toyohara Kunichika, 1870-80.
Colour woodblock print from the series Mitate Chōchingura depicting a seated girl tuning a samisen, and inset, on a lantern, Gihei seated on his armour box defies the rōnin: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1847-48.
Colour woodblock print entitled Hisashiburide kiku from the series Imayō kikuzoroi (Set of Modern Chrysanthemums), depicting a young woman holding out an open book of songs in one hand and a closed book in the other: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1845.
Colour woodblock print from the series Jinshin megane no mitōshi (Glasses for Inspecting the Human Heart), depicting a young woman standing with a water basin and toothbrush at her feet: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1845.
Colour woodblock print from the series Jinshin megane no mitōshi (Glasses for Inspecting the Human Heart), depicting a young woman reading, with a sleeping cat behind her: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1845.
Colour woodblock print triptych depicting three young women standing beside a palanquin at night, with two puppies at their feet and a full moon and bats flying overhead: Japan, by Keisai Eisen, c1840.
Colour woodblock print triptych entitled Minamoto no Yoriie-kō Kamakura Kotsubo no umi yūran Asahina Yoshihide shiyū no wani o tōfu zu (Asahina Yoshihide Fighting Crocodiles on the Occasion of Minamoto no Yoriie's Sea Viewing at Kotsubo), depicting Asahina fighting crocodiles in the sea off Kamakura, watched by Yoriie and his nobles in boats: Japan, Edo, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1843-44.
Colour woodblock print triptych, depicting Oniwaka-maru (the future Musashibo Benkei) about to attack the giant carp which devoured his mother: Japan, Edo, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1845.
Colour woodblock print triptych depicting the interior of a Kabuki theatre during the performance of Shibaraku, an aragoto piece by one of the Ichikawa family: Japan, by Utagawa Kunisada, 1858.
Colour woodblock triptych print entitled Amayadori haruno michizuki (Group of actors sheltering from a shower), depicting a group of twelve Kabuki actors sheltering from the rain under trees: Japan, by Utagawa Kunisada, 1855.
Colour woodblock triptych print entitled Mitate hotaru-gari yako tama-zoroi (Imagined Scene of Chasing Fireflies in the Evening Light), depicting six Kabuki actors beside a river in the evening chasing fireflies: Japan, by Utagawa Kunisada, 1855.
Colour woodblock triptych print depicting a scene in a public bath-house, with the Kabuki actors Nakamura Utaemon III (right), Bandō Mitsugorō III (centre) and Ichikawa Danzō (left) recognisable in the foreground: Japan, by Utagawa Kuninao, c1815.
Colour woodblock triptych print depicting the Kabuki actors Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Natsume Shirozaburo (right), Bando Shuka I as Jiraiya (really the demon-woman O-Matsu), Arashi Kichisaburō III as the servant Isobei, and black-robed policemen, in the play Shinpan koshi no shiranami: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1850s.
Colour woodblock print triptych depicting the Kabuki actors Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Fuwa Banzaemon Shigekatsu (right), Onoe Eizaburō IV as O-Kuni of Izumoya and Sawamura Sojuro V as Nagoya Sanza Motoharu: Japan, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c1851.
Colour woodblock print 43 entitled Kuwana: Shichiri no watashibune (Kuwana: Shichiri Ferry Boat) from the series Gojūsan tsugi meisho zue (Famous Places Along the 53 Stations [of the Tōkaidō] Illustrated) depicting the Shichiri ferry alongside other smaller boats on the water: Japan, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1855.
Colour woodblock print 45 entitled Ishiyakushi: Yoshitsune sakura Noriyori no hokora (Ishiyakushi: Yoshitsune's Cherry Blossoms, Noriyori Small Shrine) from the series Gojūsan tsugi meisho zue (Famous Places Along the 53 Stations [of the Tōkaidō] Illustrated) depicting two figures working in a field, with Yoshitsune's cherry tree in bloom across a small stream, and the torii for Noriyori shrine visible behind: Japan, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1855.
Colour woodblock print number 11 entitled Hakone: yamanaka yako no zue (Hakone: Night Travel in the Mountains) from the series Gojūsan tsugi meisho zue (Famous Places Along the 53 Stations [of the Tōkaidō] Illustrated) depicting an evening scene of travellers, some being carried in palanquins and others bearing torches, as they pass through the mountains: Japan, by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1855.
Woodblock triptych print entitled Fuzoku Genji: Tsukuda, depicting a girl seated on a verandah with a writing table and materials before her, looking out over a moonlit bay, where ships are moored and small boats are being paddled to the shore: Japan, by Utagawa Hiroshige and Utagawa Kunisada, 1853.
Six-panel folding screen painting of a plum tree: Japan, by Sugai Baikan, 1815-44.
Hanging scroll painting depicting the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup (Inchu hassen), ink and colours on silk, with paulownia storage box: by Maruyama Ozui, Kinoshita Oju, Yamaguchi Soken, Kawamura Bunpo, Hatta Koshu, Watanabe Nangaku, Okamoto Toyohiko and Oku Bunmei, Japan, Kyoto, early 19th century.
Fragment of a pottery vessel: Japan, Musashi Province, Mitsusawa shell-mound, Jomon, Stone Age.
There is a large, internationally significant collection of Japanese archaeological material, which was donated to the Museum in 1908-14 by the Scottish physician Dr Neil Gordon Munro (1864–1942). This collection of over 2,000 items includes ceramics, stone tools, shells and bones, dating from the Jōmon (11,000–400 BCE), Yayoi (400 BCE–300 CE) and Kofun (300–710 CE) periods. Some of these illustrate the close technological links with the continent, and the Korean peninsula in particular.
Pottery Haniwa horse: Japan, Awa province, Osato district. On display in the Inspired by Nature gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Cooking pot of red pottery: Japan, Musashi province, Mitsusawa shell-mound, mid Jomon period.
Moulded ornament for vessel rim in three pieces, of red pottery, hollow and perforated: Japan, Musashi province, Negishi shell-mound, Jomon period.
Beaker of dark pottery: Japan, Musashi province, Mitsusawa shell-mound, Stone Age.
Prehistoric axes from Japan, Musashi province, Mitsusawa province.
Pedestal of dark stone ware, sepulchral or ceremonial type, with comb decoration, and triangular perforations in nine stages: Japan, Chikuzen Province, Dolmen period.
Cluster of grey stoneware dishes: Japan, Yamato Province, Dolmen period.
Painting of the Ainu Uimamu ritual, with Ainu chiefs greeting merchants from the Matsumae domain, against a curtain with crests of the Takeda clan: Japan, Hokkaido, by Hirasawa Byōzan, 1867.
Munro also gave a group of about 225 objects from the Ainu people of Hokkaido, including ritual items, domestic clothing and accessories. He collected these when he was serving as a physician to the Ainu community in Nibutani village. You can see the objects in the slideshow below on display in the Living Lands gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.
17th century decanter (etunup) made from black lacquered wood decorated in gold with maple branches and used by Ainu people in ceremonies. On display in the Living Lands gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.
Tinder box used to carry tinder, part of fire-making kit: Japan, Hokkaido, Ainu, 19th to early 20th century. On display in the Living Lands gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Robe (ruunpe), dark blue cotton cloth with red and white abstract applique decoration, worn during a ceremony: Japan, Hokkaido, Ainu, 19th to early 20th century. On display in the Living Lands gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
19th century cup made from wood decorated with black and red lacquer. Cup and stand sets (tuki) of Japanese lacquer were used by the Ainu in ceremonies. On display in the Living Lands gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Prayer stick (ikupasuy) used in Ainu ceremonies to deliver prayers: Japan, Hokkaido, Ainu, 19th to early 20th century. On display in the Living Lands gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
19th century wooden thread winder, used in weaving, Japan, Hokkaido, Ainu. On display in the Living Lands gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.
Large porcelain alms bowl with blue fish: Japan, by Seifu Yohei III, c1910.
The Japanese collection also boasts over 1,600 ceramics from the early modern period to the present day. The historic collection includes many fine examples of export porcelain as well as pieces in domestic taste; a particular strength is the group of 58 works given in 1956 by the sisters Rachel and Jane Alexander. These were collected by their father, the banker William Cleverly Alexander (1840–1916), who was a patron of James McNeill Whistler. A donation from Rene Finch of 134 pieces illustrates the development of Chinese-style blue-and-white porcelain (known as Shonsui) in Japan. In 2015 a group of more than 300 Japanese ceramics was donated by David and Anne Hyatt King via the Art Fund. It is a strong representation of 17th-century porcelain presentation pieces and of the works by various named potters’ lineages from the mid-19th through to the late 20th century. A small exhibition Masters of Japanese Porcelain was opened in March 2015 to celebrate the gift. The entire collection is available to view online with 32 pieces on long term display in the Exploring East Asia gallery, Level 5. In 2022 the Museum acquired, partially via donation, the Anne and David Hale collection of Tōhoku ceramics, featuring over 300 pieces produced in the Northeast region of Japan.
The slideshow below shows highlights from the collection presented by David and Anne Hyatt King through the Art Fund.
Spherical water jar of porcelain with underglaze blue decoration of carp, lion-dogs and children: Japan, Hirado Mikawachi, 1780 - 1880
Month plate by Seifu Yohei III, with flowers and dragonfly, c1890.
Sculpture of recumbent lion-dog (shishi) with celadon glaze, by Makuzu Kozan I, 1900-10.
Large stoneware vase decorated in low relief with foliage, possibly Suwa Sozan design, by Kinkozan, c1900.
Bottle vase by Miyagawa Kozan with dragon design in underglaze copper red, c1880-90.
Red cylinder vase with blue dragon roundels by Seifu Yohei III. c1890.
Bowl by Ito Tozan I with design of dragon and phoenix in overglaze enamels, 1922.
Globular yellow vase in the imperial Chinese style, by Seifu Yohei III, 1890s.
Bisque-fired cylindrical porcelain vase with decoration of insects and sea creatures in low relief: Japan, Hirado Mikawachi, by Yamoto, 1840-80.
Large celadon stoneware dish: Japan, Arita, 1660-1710.
Straight-sided porcelain water jar (mizusashi) for tea ceremony, with low relief and underglaze blue decoration of peonies: Japan, c1890s.
Large fish-bowl of porcelain with underglaze blue decoration of birds on branches and a diamond lozenge pattern above, with gold lacquer repairs to rim: Japan, 1660-80.
Globular jar of porcelain with incised plants, with wooden storage box: Japan, by Seifu Yohei V, 1950 75.
Moulded porcelain dish with brown rim, Kakiemon: Japan, c1700.
Sencha teapot of porcelain with celadon glaze: Japan, by Ogata Shuhei, 1840-75.
Incense burner of stoneware with celadon glaze in the form of a lion-dog, in two parts: Japan, by Suwa Sozan II, 1922-77.
Straight-sided porcelain water jar (mizusashi) with design of blue dragons in surging waves: Japan, Hirado Mikawachi, c1700.
Octagonal bottle of porcelain, of lacquer shape, decorated in underglaze blue with landscape: Japan, Hirado Mikawachi, 1725-75.
Porcelain dish with design of a banana tree: Japan, Nabeshima, 1825-50.
Colour woodblock triptych print depicting the kabuki actors Onoe Kikugorō V as Megumi Sakagorō grasping two swords, Ichikawa Sadanji I as Kuzō, and Nakamura Shikan IV as Shakki Dengorō, baring his arm: Japan, by Toyohara Kunichika, 1870-80.
In arms and armour, there are six suits of armour, around 20 swords, daggers and glaives, five matchlock guns, an indoor archery set. Some of the swords and spears were transferred from the South Kensington Museum in 1866, having formed part of the diplomatic gift in 1859 from the shogun Tokugawa Iemochi (1846–66) to Queen Victoria. There is also a collection of about 260 finely crafted sword-guards (tsuba).
Early 19th century suit of Samurai armour.
Court sword and scabbard given to John Richard Davidson by the Japanese government: Japan, blade by Fujiwara no Yukihiro, 1661–1672, mount 19th century.
Sword, with curved steel blade half double-edged and hilt of sharkskin-covered wood, and tsuba: Japan, blade dated 1828.
Sword with a curved single-edged steel blade signed in brass inlay, a wooden hilt wrapped in silk cord, and signed shibuichi mounts: Japan, blade by Kunihiro, mounts by Issho.
Presentation tsuba or sword guard of iron, aoi (hollyhock) shape with trefoil double holes, decorated with phoenix and paulownia in gold nunome-zogan (cloth grain-inlay): Japan, Kyoto or Awa province, late 18th century.
Tsuba or sword guard of iron, circular with a trefoil gilt copper plug, depicting a tiger in a bamboo grove: Japan, Iyo province, Matsuyama, made by Shoami Moriyuki, early 18th century.
Tsuba or sword-guard of iron decorated with shakudo nanako with peonies, lion-dogs, rocks and gilt edge: Japan, possibly 18th century.
Embroidery with design of Nong Yu (J: Rogyoku) standing on a flying phoenix and holding a koto under her arm: Japan, 19th century.
Clothing and textiles include around 45 robes for adults, and some examples of formal wear (kamishimo). There is a group of 27 finely embroidered gift covers (fukusa) donated by Thomas Clarke-Thornhill (1857–1934) in 1926. There is a large group of textile samples from the 19th century, illustrating a wide variety of production techniques, some from the gift to Queen Victoria.
Young woman's robe (furisode), of rep silk with design of maple branches above a festival curtain, outlined with couched gold thread, with padded hem and red silk lining, possibly for wedding ceremony: Japan, 1868-1900.
Woman's robe of blue and cream silk gauze hand-painted with a design of autumn grasses, with a collar facing of white silk gauze: Japan, late Edo period, c1850.
Woman's mauve silk kimono with figured satin crepe stencil painted with scattered poem cards in different colours, with a white silk lining: Japan, c1930-40.
Blue satin fukusa (gift cover) with embroidered design of two dancers performing the butterfly dance: Japan,1868-1883.
Silk fukusa (gift cover) with a design of two puppies beneath bamboo and holly in the snow: Japan, 1868-1900.
Blue satin fukusa (gift cover) embroidered in coloured silks and gold thread depicting Sima Guang (J: Shiba Onko) as a boy saving his friend from drowning in a large jar: Japan, 19th century.
Silk embroidery with a central crest of wisteria in purple silk surrounded by four panels of geometric embroidered patterns with fan-shaped insets: Japan, by Funazaka Sanshi, 1801-67.
Lid of picnic cabinet (sageju): Japan, 18th century.
There are around 150 lacquerware items, mainly writing and document boxes, picnic equipment, and various kinds of small container. The lacquer accoutrements for men comprise 67 medicine cases (inrō) and 900 netsuke toggles, the majority deriving from donations by John Jordan in 1914 and EJ Fyfe in 1946.
19th century black lacquered wood box, gifted to the museum collections by Queen Victoria.
Incense game set of gold lacquered wood, containing incense holder and incense burner: Japan, 18th-19th century.
Picnic cabinet (sageju) of gold lacquered wood, containing tiered box (jubako) of four sections, sake bottle, five stacking trays and one single tray, decorated with panels containing floral and landscape designs: Japan, 18th century.
Document box (bunko) of gold lacquered wood: Japan, 18th-19th centuries.
Inro or medicine case of mirror-black lacquered wood, with four compartments, decorated with a rising sun and a tortoise in gold: Japan, by Yamada Jokasai, 19th century.
Inro with four compartments, of lacquered wood decorated Shibayama style in mother-of-pearl, steatite, jadeite and tortoiseshell with a cockatiel on a branch, suspended from a stirrup-shaped netsuke of bronze, and held by an ojime of agate: Japan, 19th century.
Spherical box of lacquered wood for cakes or sweets (kashi-bako), with four tiers in different coloured lacquer and a lid, decorated in raised gold lacquer with cherry blossom: Japan, c1800.
Inro of red lacquered wood with four compartments, carved with Chinese sages: Japan, 18th - 19th century.
Colour woodblock print from the series Kōyasan hakkei (Eight Views of Mt Koya), depicting the main buildings of the temple complex: Japan, by Kansendō, c1860.
Buddhist artefacts are well represented, with three large bronze figural sculptures, two large bronze temple lanterns, lacquered household shrines, two paintings, many ritual implements and percussion instruments, and items used by mendicant priests.
Shrine (zushi) of black lacquered wood with engraved metal mounts, containing figure of Amida Buddha, of carved, painted and gilt wood, standing on a lotus pedestal: Japan, late 17th - early 18th century.
Buddhist crocodile-mouth gong (waniguchi) of bronze with loops for suspension: Japan.
Flat Buddhist gong (kei) of bronze, ornamented on both sides with birds and clouds in low relief: Japan.
Figure in bronze of the bodhisattva Jizo, in the form of Keiki Jizo, holding in his right hand a ringed staff (shakujo), and in the left hand the jewel (cintamani), seated dressed in the robes of a Buddhist monk: Kamakura, Japan, Kei School, 14th century.
Temple lantern of bronze decorated with lion-dogs, dragon, cranes, mythological fish (shachihoko) and the crest of the Tokugawa family, and topped with a Buddhist flaming jewel: Japan, late 19th century.
Figure in bronze of Sho-Kannon, the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, holding a lotus in left hand, with right hand raised in abhaya mudra: Japan, by Kogawa Ichimasa of Kanda, Edo, for Choshoji temple, Gyotoku, 1787.
Detail of decoration on the back of a bronze incense burner: Japan, by Suzuki Chokichi, 1875-76.
Moving into the late 19th century, there are several large sculptural pieces in bronze and in ivory designed for international exhibitions. There are also about 30 cloisonné pieces, almost all of which were acquired before 1900.
Bronze incense burner, decorated on front with a cat pursuing mice around a basket of fruit, purchased at the Centennial International Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876: Japan, by Suzuki Chokichi, 1875-76.
Incense burner and cover of bronze, ornamented with scenes from the tale of Urashima Taro, presented to Sir Harry Parkes by the Meiji Emperor in July 1883: Japan, by Suzuki Katsushige, Ichiryu Juko, and eight others, 1883.
Bronze sculpture of a cockerel with wings spread standing on a tree stump with a hen and three chicks below: Japan, Tokyo, by Ōtake Norikuni, 1890-1900.
Figure of an eagle in carved ivory, perched with outstretched wings, with horn claws and glass eyes: by Kaneda Kenjiro, Japan, late 19th century .
Vase of cloisonne enamel, decorated with medallions containing flowers: Japan, 1850-1870.
Dish of copper and cloisonne enamel with a seated figure of a warrior in centre: Japan, Yokohama, by Goto Seizaburo, c1880.
Incense-burner of bronze in the shape of a crane: Japan, 19th century. On display in the Inspired by Nature gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.
Eight-sided lidded box of cast bronze, with patinated surface and silver leaf on inside: Japan, by Hatakeyama Koji, 2007. © Hatakeyama Kōji.
20th century arts are well represented, with a group of about 40 revivalist woodblock prints from the 1930s and about 40 works by print artists of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1989 Mrs Lebe Tokimasa bequeathed approximately 700 household items from the 20th century, acquired during residence in and visits to Japan from the 1930s to 1960s. These are primarily utensils for cooking, eating and drinking purchased in department stores.
In recent years, a strong collection of contemporary jewellery and studio crafts has been built up. Following an exhibition at the National Museum in 1993, the Kondō family of sometsuke porcelain artists is strongly represented. Other potters include Sakiyama Takayuki and Kishi Eiko. Jewellery artists include Hiramatsu Yasuki, Suō Emiko, Oda Makiko and Sonobe Etsuko. There is glass by Takahashi Yoshihiko and Miyake Michiko, bamboo craft by Buseki Suikō, and metalwork by Hatakeyama Kōji, Ōsumi Yukie and Iwata Hiroki.
Cuff of silver and resin: Japan, by Hiramatsu Yasuki, 1991. On display in the Artistic Legacies gallery at the National Museum of Scotland. © Hiramatsu Yasuki.
Finger-ring entitled Chikyūjō no hyōga ga tokenai yō ni inotte (Praying the Glaciers on Earth Won't Melt), made of a loosely coiled band of broad, flat silver with an irregularly-cut piece of clear glass: Japan, Osaka, by Mitsushima Kazuko, 1997. On display in the Inspired by Nature gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.
Vase entitled Kuroshio, of hammered silver with nunome-zogan (textile-imprint inlay) of gold and lead: Japan, by Ōsumi Yukie, 2000.
Vase of opaque blown glass with calligraphy reading Heiwa (Peace), made in response to the destruction of the World Trade Center, New York on 11 September 2001: by Mitsushima Kazuko, Japan, 2001. © Mitsushima Kazuko.
Vase of copper with precious metal clay and mica on exterior, interior lined with enamel: Japan, signed by Iwata Hiroki, 2004. © Hiroki Iwata.
Sculptural vessel, large open stoneware in a spiralling form, from a series of work entitled Choto (Listening to the Waves): Japan, by Sakiyama Takayuki, 2006-7. © Takayuki Sakiyama.
Sculpture entitled New Pinecone Silver Organism, hand forged in fine silver: made in England by Japanese artist Junko Mori, 2007. © Junko Mori.
Necklace made of 36 linked hollow prisms of stainless steel, each covered with copper mesh in colours of gold, tan, turquoise, blue, bronze and black, worn by wrapping around the neck: Japan, Tokyo, by Suō Emiko, 2008. On display in the Artistic Legacies gallery at the National Museum of Scotland. © Suō Emiko.
Rigid choker entitled Wound Around, of carved silver coated with rhodium: Japan, Tsuchiura, by Taguchi Fumiki, 2014.
Mask of carved and gilded wood, with eyeballs and teeth of gilt metal, representing the evil spirit Kaname-ishi, for No drama, signed: Japan, by Deme Tōhaku Mitsutaka, 1675-1715.
From 1996 to 2014 a selection from the Japanese cultural collections was displayed in the gallery Looking East: China, Japan and Korea (also known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art). A new gallery, Exploring East Asia, opened in 2019 which has about 250 Japanese objects on display.
More Japanese items can be found all around the National Museum of Scotland. Visit Artistic Legacies to see porcelain, contemporary ceramics, sword-guards and jewellery and Inspired by Nature for woodblock prints, haniwa, netsuke and cloisonné. You’ll find musical instruments, a Noh mask and Buddhist ritual items in the Performance and Lives gallery, while Living Lands has a fine display of Ainu artefacts. Our new Fashion and Style and Making and Creating galleries feature cutting edge contemporary design from Japan, while beautiful ceramics can be found in the Window on the World.
Japan is represented also in the collections of natural history, military history, and science and technology.
Tsuba or sword guard with a dragon and Mt Fuji, Miho-no-Matsubara on reverse. Hamano style: Japan, made by Hakuryo, 19th century. On display in the Artistic Legacies gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Yin Yang Blue Vase made from porcelain and decorated in blue underglaze. Japan, Kyoto, by Kondo Takahiro, 1993 – 1994. On display in the Artistic Legacies gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Mask representing the evil spirit Kaname-ishi, for No drama, signed: Japan, by Deme Tōhaku Mitsutaka, 1675-1715. On display in the Performance and Lives gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Netsuke of tiger made from carved ivory. On display in the Imagine gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Bronze sculpture of the Buddha Amida seated in meditation with a mandorla behind his head: Japan, 18th-19th century. On display in the Traditions in Sculpture gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Dish of cloisonne enamel depicting a carp amongst waves with lotus and iris flowers. Japan, 19th century. On display in the Inspired by Nature gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
Bowl of stoneware with a greenish white glaze, made by Hamada Shoji: Japan, c1930. On display in the Making and Creating gallery, National Museum of Scotland.
White porcelain model of a goat: Japan, Hirado Mikawachi, 1840–1870. On display in the Window on the World.
Figure of Jurojin seated on a small rock, from a set representing the Seven Gods of Good Fortune: Japan, Satsuma, 19th century. On display in the Window on the World, National Museum of Scotland.
Heel-less shoes hand-made from embossed leather and silver metal: Japanese, Tokyo, by Noritaka Tatehana 2014. On display in the Fashion and Style gallery.
Woman's coat or jacket, felted wool in bright pink floret and leopard print, with angular shaped hips, from the Commes des Garcons, 'Flat' or '2D' collection, Autumn-Winter 2012, designed by Rei Kawakubo. On display in the Fashion and Style gallery.
Bronze planisphere with two magnetic needles in a raised border, the centre representing a portion of the sidereal heavens, made in Japan, probably late 17th century.