Cool Japan

From Kawaii to Samurai

  • Exhibition
  • Identity

Pokémon, Hello Kitty, robots and samurai: all proof of the world’s fascination with all things Japanese. The Cool Japan exhibition places this obsession in a historical context for visitors both young and old.

With historic highlights from the collections of the National Museum of Ethnology, the Tropenmuseum and MAS Antwerp, among others, Cool Japan shows how contemporary Japanese icons are part of a long tradition. Modern illustrators and old masters display striking similarities. And age-old techniques and visual tricks in woodblock printing and painting are still deployed by modern illustrators and animators.

An eclectic whole
Each room of the exhibition offers unique atmosphere: where the kawaii room is colourful and playful, the one with historical pen drawings is calm and refined. The samurai room is dark and ominous while the one with Japanese design is bathed in a soft glowing light.

To link these very different spaces, we designed a distinctive typeface that guides visitors through the exhibition in a logical manner and ties the whole ensemble together.

Historical and contemporary
The typeface mirrors the exhibition in linking the old with the new. Traditional calligraphy meets contemporary typography. Beauty and balance in service of legibility.

Cool Japan Aracde Hall
Cool Japan Robots

Down to the smallest detail
We carefully guide visitors from major themes to more in-depth exhibits and descriptions in display cases. Detailed timelines offer insight into the history of Japanese visual culture.

Cool Japan End

Photography
Rob Wetzer
Barbara Medo

Exhibition
Harm Rensink

Animation
Bob Mayata

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Prikkel (Stimulus)