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JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation.

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JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. is an exploration of the astonishing ways in which Japan’s cutting-edge technology and design are rooted in the traditions of the past.

In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, we see once again the resilient, enterprising spirit that has moved Japan beyond darkness before.

By revealing the unexpected parallels between old and new in a land that has simultaneously remained connected to the past and rushed headlong into the future, JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. provides rare insight into the creative character of Japan.

The exhibition compares contemporary designs with historical artifacts from the Edo Period (1603–1867). Five themes—travel, automation, social status, consumer culture and entertainment—demonstrate how traditional influences have shaped contemporary Japan and touched the world at large.

Juxtapositions of the old and new celebrate Japan’s centuries-long cycles of invention. We see 21st-century comics books (manga) as descendants of the 19th-century woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). Avant-garde outfits, samurai armour and elegant silk kimonos share uncanny similarities. A portable carriage (norimono) embodies characteristics found in a compact, fuel-efficient car. The inspiration for complex industrial robots can be traced back to 200-year-old mechanized dolls (karakuri ningyo). Painted screens created hundreds of years ago continue to provide inspiration for 21st-century artists.

JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. is beautiful and inspiring, with rare historical artifacts on loan from Asia, Europe and North America. The exhibition is developed in partnership with the National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura, Japan.

In the face of the current crisis, our Japanese partners have expressed their wish that the exhibition open on schedule, as an affirmation of Japan’s enduring creative spirit.

JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation. was developed by the Canadian Museum of Civilization with the assistance of the National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura, Japan and the Embassy of Japan in Canada.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization wishes to thank the following sponsors of and donors to JAPAN: Tradition. Innovation.: Presenting Sponsor Subaru Canada, Inc; Supporting Sponsor Anritsu Electronics Ltd.; Opening Sponsor Honda Canada, Inc.; the Commemorative Organization for The Japan World Exposition ‘70; the Japan Foundation; the Toshiba International Foundation; and in-kind sponsor PARO Robots U.S., Inc.