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Nakamoto Manami reports on her experience at THE HEROES and the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM

I visited the special exhibition of the Japan Cultural Expo, ‘THE HEROES – Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords x Ukiyo-e from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’. I learned a lot about a new topic, which was fun, and it was a great opportunity for me to become more knowledgeable about Japanese culture. I would like to share my experiences of the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM with you, and explain how you can experience Japanese culture in a virtual space!

※The Tokyo and Niigata display for THE HEROES – Chronicles of the Warriors: Japanese Swords x Ukiyo-e is now finished. Currently displayed at the Shizuoka and Hyogo venues.

Visit to THE HEROES exhibition

THE HEROES exhibition currently held at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi Hills features swords and ukiyo-e prints from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This is the first time in about half a century that the works have been showcased together in Japan. You can see some very rare pieces on display. The swords and ukiyo-e were originally from Japan, brought to Boston, and are returning to Japan on this occasion. So, this is a sort of ‘homecoming’ for them. I can’t wait to see them!

The exhibits of ‘Tsuba’ showcasing various designs

THE HEROES exhibition also showcases several ‘Tsuba’, which are Japanese sword fittings between the hilt, where you grip, and the blade, to protect your hands when gripping a sword. Each one is finely decorated, and the one here depicts a scene of the mythical Tsuchigumo (earth spider) being destroyed. I was surprised at the variety of Tsuba on display everywhere, with the same images as those in the ukiyo-e prints.

Entering a scene inside ukiyo-e!

There is a photo spot in the museum where you can enter the world of ukiyo-e! The ukiyo-e is called, ‘The Earth Spider Slain by Minamoto no Yorimitsu’s Retainers’ (‘the image of Minamoto no Yorimitsu with his four retainers confronting Tsuchigumo’), and it’s a story about the killing of a giant mythical spider monster that appeared in warlord Yorimitsu’s bedside. It might be fun to take a picture with the retainers around Yorimitsu and pose as if you are slaying Tsuchigumo. This is a spot that I really recommend everyone to stop by when visiting THE HEROES exhibition.

Tracing the history of heroes through ukiyo-e, Tsuba, and swords

The exhibits at THE HEROES are divided by period and theme, and visitors can explore the history of Japan’s heroic figures, such as ‘ Warriors of the Heian Period’, ‘Heroes of the Genpei Wars’, ‘Stories from the Kamakura Period’, and ‘The Battle at Kawanakajima’ during the age of provincial wars, by following the route. I was able to learn about each period through ukiyo-e prints, the decorations on Tsuba, and swords. The exhibition would be interesting for both who love histories and non-historians alike. I was totally absorbed in it too.

The line-up of swords is a sight to behold!

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has approximately 600 Japanese swords in its collection, and 20 selected pieces are on display in this exhibition. Japanese swords from the Heian period (794-1192) to the Edo period (1603-1868) are lined up, which is quite a spectacular sight. It is also nice that photography is allowed.

Let’s visit the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM!

At the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM, you can freely walk around a virtual space to experience various aspects of beauty in Japan, through video, VR, and images. For example, the exhibits range from cultural treasures from the Jomon period 10,000 years ago, to modern art, as well as manga and anime, covering a range of genres and history. It’s not easy to visit museums in person, so with the virtual platform, it’s nice that it’s easy to join without having to actually go out!

My experience of enjoying the exhibits at the Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM

I strolled around various exhibition areas spread out in the virtual space, using an avatar. When you enjoy a piece of art, you can also express your excitement by clicking the “Like” and “Clap” action buttons. You can easily register for free from your PC or smartphone, so I hope you experience the virtual platform as well.

Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM

Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM has been launched. This platform combines “real” experiences at physical venues and “virtual” experiences through online digital content, promoting these within Japan and beyond.
Japan Cultural Expo VIRTUAL PLATFORM allows you to experience its art exhibitions, performing arts, nature, and art festivals in the virtual world, utilizing video, VR, and images.