Visiting the gallery
Free daily eye-opener tour
11.00 in gallery, 30–40 minute tour
Explore the expansive history and culture of Japan in these beautiful galleries.
The Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries explore how continuity and change have shaped Japan's past and present, and the country's relationships with the rest of the world.
Through constant international exchange, Japan is a thriving, modern, high-technology society that also celebrates many elements of traditional culture.
From ancient flame pots, through samurai armour, to contemporary manga, the objects on display date from prehistory to the present. They reference the lives of emperors and also of ordinary townspeople.
Explore these stunning galleries, which showcase one of the most comprehensive collections of Japanese art and artefacts outside of Japan.
- The Japanese islands have been inhabited for more than 30,000 years.
- The world's first ceramics were made in Japan some 17,000 years ago by the Jōmon people, who lived in what is now northern Japan.
- Before the invention of ceramics, people stored their food in holes in the ground or in baskets, which were vulnerable to insects, animals and the weather.
- In 1639, Japan closed off almost all contact with the rest of the world. The Shoguns, who ruled Japan at the time, did this in the belief it would strengthen their control of the country.
- Japan remained relatively isolated from the world until 1853, when US Commodore Matthew Perry arrived with a fleet in Tokyo bay and demanded that Japan begin to trade with the US.