The V&A's collection of Japanese art and design is one of the largest in Britain. It includes ceramics, lacquer, arms and armour, woodwork, metalwork, textiles and dress, prints, paintings and sculpture. An active programme of acquiring modern and contemporary studio crafts has resulted in the V&A having one of the most prestigious holdings of this material outside Japan.
Japanese Street Style
Lolita fashion emerged during the 1990s as a radical form of street style born out of the Japanese taste for Hello Kitty cuteness. Whether dressed in pink, powder blue, red, white or black, Lolitas are immediately recognisable by their doll-like make-up, frilly skirts, fanciful headgear, ribbons and lace.
Traditional Japanese Pastimes
Incense, rare woods that give off beautiful smells when burnt slowly, were imported into Japan from at least the eighth century onwards. The appreciation of incense developed into a social activity by the elite classes, and during the Edo period it became more of a game.
The kimono is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. In kimono it is the pattern on the surface, rather than the cut of the garment, that is significant. Indications of social status, personal identity and cultural sensitivity are expressed through colour and decoration. The kimono worn by women, particularly the young, were the most richly decorated and it is generally these that survive in collections like that of the V&A.
The Mazarin Chest
The Mazarin Chest, renowned as one of the finest pieces of Japanese export lacquer to have survived from the second quarter of the seventeenth century, is a star item in the V&A's internationally acclaimed collection of Japanese art. It is made of black-lacquered wood lavishly decorated with landscape scenes incorporating subject matter from the Tale of Genji and the Tale of the Soga Brothers.