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Cool Japan

The exhibition 'Cool Japan' took you on a whirlwind tour of the global fascination for Japanese visual culture. With unique historical pieces, the MAS showed how Japanese icons such as Hello Kitty, Zelda and Sailor Moon are all part of a long tradition and how both new and old Japanese art continues to inspire the world.

Zelda, Sailor Moon and Hello Kitty: all world famous icons from Japanese visual culture you may know. But did you know that contemporary Japanese visual culture also has a rich history? For instance, the style of contemporary Japanese cartoonists or 'mangaka' is heavily influenced by Japan's historical print art and techniques pioneered by old masters. Through unique historical works from its own collection and loans, the MAS presented this long tradition from which contemporary Japanese pop culture has grown out.

In 'Cool Japan', you could admire ancient and contemporary Japanese art, discover how fashion designers were inspired by Japan, and got to know the colourful 'Kawaii' (cute fashion from Tokyo), or admire the handsome tattoos of the old warriors. However, you could do more than merely look. You could also get hands-on at the exhibition by delving into activities such as having a chat with robot Pepper or getting lost in manga strips for hours in our library.

Practical information

  • Cool Japan
    18/10/2019 - 10/08/2020

Cool Japan was an exhibition of the National Museum of World Cultures (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen) in the Netherlands.

Uki-Uki (2012)
Hiroyuki Matsuura, Acrylic and gold foil on canvas, 390 x 130 cm
Banner image courtesy of Tokyo Gallery + BTAP

About the exhibition

Antwerp and Japan

Mutual focus

The fascination for Japan from Antwerp's side began early. And, conversely, Antwerp is no stranger to the Japanese either.

Foto: Gion

Art at the exhibition

In addition to work by 18th-century artist Katsushika Hokusai, known as 'the Rembrandt of Japan', contemporary art was also well represented in the exhibition.

Fashion at the exhibition

Japanese fashion also has a global impact. The exhibition showed how Japanese avant-garde fashion from the 1980s is still alive and well. Visitors were also exposed to Tokyo's colourful Cute Fashion.

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