1. Japan Cultural Expo Virtual Platform
    Photo: Japan Arts CouncilExterior image of pavilion
  2. Japan Cultural Expo Virtual Platform
    Photo: Japan Arts CouncilExhibition area image
  3. Japan Cultural Expo Virtual Platform
    Photo: Japan Arts CouncilExhibition area image; The Mount Fuji Challenges: Hokusai and Hiroshige/Edo Tokyo Museum

3 exhibits to check out for free at the new Japan Cultural Expo online museum

Explore a two-storey virtual exhibition packed with videos, performances, artwork, VR displays and more

Tabea Greuner
Written by
Tabea Greuner
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With a theme of ‘Humanity and Nature’, the Japan Cultural Expo kicked off in 2019 in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to promote Japanese culture through events across the country.

Many of the events had an online component as well, so existing footage from the multi-year festival has been combined with some brand new content, and made available for free on the Japan Cultural Expo Virtual Platform

Just head to the website where you can navigate an animated exhibition space stretching over two floors and enjoy art displays on visual and performing arts, history, archaeology and more. You’ll see videos, images and even virtual reality displays on manga and ukiyo-e woodblock prints; kabuki, noh and bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre); important items from the prehistoric Jomon period and other Japanese cultural touchstones.

All the content is available for free in Japanese and English and will be updated regularly. With so much to see, we thought we’d help out with our top three picks to give you an idea of what’s available.

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‘Moon, Snow and Flowers – Performing Arts Celebrating the Natural Beauty of Japan’
Photo: Japan Arts Council; National Theatre: Moon, Snow and Flowers

‘Moon, Snow and Flowers – Performing Arts Celebrating the Natural Beauty of Japan’

This roughly 80-minute long video of the National Theatre’s special performance ‘Moon, Snow and Flowers’ focuses on humanity and Japan’s nature. The performance combines projection mapping light displays with several of Japan’s traditional performing arts, ranging from kabuki, hogaku (traditional Japanese music) and gagaku (Japanese court music), to shomyo (Japanese Buddhist chanting) and ryukyuan classical music from Okinawa. 

Find ‘Moon, Snow and Flowers’ on Floor B, section S4 in the virtual museum. The video is available until October 31 2021.

Japan Cultural Expo Special Event: Ainu Culture Festival
Photo: Japan Arts Council; Japan Cultural Expo Special Exhibition: Ainu Cultural Festival

Japan Cultural Expo Special Event: Ainu Culture Festival

This is one of two exhibitions focusing on the culture of the Ainu, an indigenous ethnic group in Hokkaido. You can see photographs of traditional Ainu dances, including the crane dance and the waterfowl dance (pictured above). There’s also an Ainu version of Japan’s popular morning exercise routine, known as rajio taiso (radio calisthenics).

Find the information on Ainu culture on Floor B, section S5 in the virtual museum.

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Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art
Photo: Keizo Kioku; Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art: ‘White Deer (Meiji Jingu)’ by Kohei Nawa (2020)

Meiji Jingu Forest Festival of Art

Admire modern art amongst the lush greenery of Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine. In celebration of the shrine’s 100th anniversary, the art festival featured an open-air sculpture exhibition, featuring stunning works by contemporary artists, including Kohei Nawa (‘White Deer’ pictured above), Atsuhiko Misawa, Misa Funai and others. Here, you can see photos of the sculptures as they appeared when they were installed in the park.

Enjoy the line-up of open-air sculptures on Floor A, section N1 in the virtual museum.

One more thing...
Photo: Japan Arts Council; Image after autumn

One more thing...

Online tours and live-streams of upcoming events will be added in the future. Starting in autumn, visitors to the virtual exhibition will get their own avatars and be able to communicate with organisers. The virtual space will also be expanded to include an ‘outdoor’ area and more places to explore.

For more information on the Japan Cultural Expo Virtual Platform, head to the official website.

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