Young V&A announces new details about its first exhibition, Japan: Myths to Manga



Young V&A unveils new details on first exhibition for children and families – Japan: Myths to Manga – opening in October 2023

From Hokusai to Pokémon, Studio Ghibli, robots and beyond, the exhibition takes young visitors on an atmospheric and playful journey revealing the influence of folklore on Japan’s art and design.

From manga-making to Taiko drumming and yōkai interactives, hands-on activities sit alongside exceptional objects and artwork from the 15th century to today, drawn from the V&A’s world-class collection and international loans, on display for the first time at Young V&A.

Young V&A Press View - Japan: Myths to Manga
Young V&A Press View - Japan: Myths to Manga

Young V&A announces new details about its first exhibition, Japan: Myths to Manga, as tickets go on sale. Opening Saturday 14 October 2023, Japan: Myths to Manga marks the beginning of a new programme of exhibitions dedicated to inspiring young minds and families through art, design, and performance.

Japan: Myths to Manga will take visitors on a journey through Japan, exploring how popular stories have shaped art, design, and technology across the centuries. Divided into four sections – Sky, Sea, Forest, and City – the exhibition brings together over 150 historic and contemporary objects.

From visual art, animation and origami to curious creatures, robots, fashion, film, and photography, Japan: Myths to Manga celebrates the spirit of playfulness and imagination that lies at the heart of Japanese culture. New acquisitions and rarely seen works from across the V&A’s collections will be brought together with important loans and reimagined for young people and their families, while an exciting selection of hands- on activities are set to spark creativity and imagination among visitors of all ages.

Japan has produced some of the world’s most exceptional art and design. Japan: Myths to Manga will feature works by celebrated 19th century Japanese artists, such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi alongside precious kimono and cute netsuke. The exhibition will explore how Pokémon, Studio Ghibli and the timeless yōkai manga of Shigeru Mizuki have drawn inspiration from Japan’s folktales to create some of popular culture’s most beloved characters. It will also show how these myths and the values they embody continue to inspire generations of artists and designers including Keita Miyazaki, Mariko Kusumoto, Noritaka Tatehana, and Yuken Teruya. A poignant installation of 1,000 paper cranes, a symbol of remembrance from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan will also be on display.

Young V&A Press View - Japan: Myths to Manga
Young V&A Press View - Japan: Myths to Manga

Katy Canales, Curator, Japan: Myths to Manga at Young V&A, said: “The same playfulness that fuels Japan’s creativity sits at the heart of Young V&A. For Japan: Myths to Manga, we’re bringing together the V&A’s incredible collections alongside amazing loans to explore the influence of Japan’s fascinating folktales to their fullest. You’ll discover what connects fuzzy Sylvanian Families and historic netsuke, how a seal-shaped robot meets the needs of modern living, and why catfish signal danger. You’ll get the chance to join in—whether it’s making your own manga or looking out for yōkai (spirits) prowling the city streets. Japan’s striking landscape and wealth of myths have sparked imaginative and innovative responses from artists and designers for centuries and we can’t wait for it to inspire our young visitors and their grown-ups too.”

Dr Helen Charman, Director of Learning, National Programmes and Young V&A, said: "We are thrilled to open the first in a dynamic series of exhibitions that will sit alongside the permanent gallery spaces at Young V&A. In celebrating the interplay of culture, imagination, and creativity, Japan: Myths to Manga reflects our commitment to engaging and inspiring young minds and families."


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