Exhibition: The Craze for Japan in Victorian and Edwardian Britain

  vases by YABU Meizan, compact mirror by KOMAI Otojiro
© Japanese Gallery Kensington

Open until 22 November 2022
Weekdays, 10am - 5pm (Closed weekends, UK bank holidays, and on 10 October)
Free admission but photo ID is required
Advance bookings can be made here

The signing of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed in 1858 marked the beginning of formal diplomatic relations between Japan and the UK.

Another milestone in diplomatic relations between the two countries was the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902. Noted for being the first alliance on equal terms between East and West, this Alliance was extended in 1905 and renewed in 1911.

Within this relatively short period, Japan had made swift progress as a nation and by the turn of the 20th century, its burgeoning relationship with the UK had mutual benefits in an ever-changing political landscape but also helped form the basis for commercial and cultural exchanges. Rapid industrialisation in Japan created a demand export opportunities for British heavy industries and employment opportunities for skilled personnel. In the opposite direction, the influx of Japanese art and cultural artefacts would have a profound influence on art and artists in Britain at the time.
  Left - katagami stencil design by the Arthur Silver Studio © Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture
Right - the Japanese Garden at Cowden Castle © Sara Stewart

This exhibition focuses on how Japanese culture caught the imagination of the British public, exploring how the hosting of large-scale events, the influx of cultural artefacts and the formation of influential organisations, all formed part of the ‘craze’ for Japan.