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Event Details

The Emperor’s New Clothes: Transforming 19th Century Japan

14 June 2018 - 9 September 2018
Oriental Museum

An exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration in Japan and the connections between Japan and the North East

The Meiji Restoration in 1868 was a major turning point in Japanese history. It marked the beginning of decades of extraordinarily rapid and momentous change.

Japan had been a mainly agricultural country with little technological development. It had largely isolated itself from the outside world for the previous 200 years. The new regime expelled the military government that had controlled Japan and restored direct rule to the 15 year old Emperor. The young Emperor was advised that the only way to establish Japan as a world power was to adopt Western systems of government, military, industry, trade, and even clothing.

This exhibition explores how Japan transformed into the modern nation we see today through the use of artefacts, woodblock prints and images from the Meiji Era. It also explores the lasting impact of the Meiji Restoration on Japanese economic and technological success.

This exhibition has been created by students studying for the MA in Museum and Artefact Studies at Durham University.

See also our talk on 14th July To Wear or Not to Wear Kimono: Transnational Fashion Exchange in Meiji Japan and Britain

This exhibition is part of Great Exhibition of the North 2018.

image: Relaxing amidst the Autumnal Foliage of a Garden by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1888