By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny



Tea ceremony by Mizuno Toshikata

Until late February 2019 through dozens of different events, from exhibitions to cinema, from classical theatre to Japanese techno or from tea ceremony to arts and crafts taking place at over 20 venues in Paris, France welcomes Japanese culture in its many ways. “Japonismes” also pays tribute to a 150-year long period of cultural and diplomatic exchanges ever since Japan opened its doors to the western world. “Japonismes” is also an opportunity to discover unique masterpieces that had never left Japan before.


Traditional Japanese outfits

In the middle of the 19th century after two centuries of an inward-looking period the Japan of the Shoguns collapsed and the Meiji period began. The world suddenly discovered Japanese culture and Japonism spread all over the planet. Major western artists of the time were dazzled with this new aesthetics that became a great source of inspiration. This influence is unmistakable in Van Gogh or Monet’s paintings or in Claude Debussy’s music. Westerners fell in love with Japanese culture and today both ancient and modern Japanese arts and way of life attract us. Until February 2019 and without having to go to the other side of the world, “Japonismes” take us on a renewed Japanese experience.


Itô Jakuchû at the Petit Palais

Discovering hidden treasures

Itô Jakuchû may not be as famous as Hokusai or Hiroshige in Europe, but he is immensely popular in Japan. He lived in Kyoto in the 18th century and his elaborate and colourful prints represent the artistic and technical height of Japanese art. The exhibition that takes place at the Petit Palais in Paris proposes us to discover a set of 30 scrolls from his Doshoku sai-e, (the Colourful Realm of Living Beings) who is exhibited in Europe for the very first time. The Doshoku sai-e is part of the exclusive Japanese Museum Imperial Collections. In them, Ito Jakuchu describes real animals and plants in an amazingly spectacular and colourful way. We will also admire his Shaka Sanzon-zo (the Shaka Triad) that come from the Shokokuji Temple in Kyoto. These precious masterpieces will be on display only for one month, from September 15 till October 14.

Poetically called “Wind God and Thunder God”, a unique folding screen considered as one of Japan treasures will be displayed for the first time in Europe in the Cernushi Museum, the museum of the Asian arts in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It was a 17th century creation of the Rinpa School of which several other masterpieces will also be visible. These pieces are rarely exhibited to the public, even in Japan. Jump at the chance to see these paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and lacquerware of the Rinpa School that holds the essence of Japanese art in a way that still is relevant today. This exhibition will begin on October 26 and end on January 27, 2019.

A special rendez-vous for manga fans

Manga, animation, games or SFX films were born in modern Japan as a reflection of social change and technological development of the city of Tokyo. They have surprisingly been successful worldwide and now part of global culture. Through many drawings, models and images the exhibition that will take place at La Villette (Paris Northern Fair Centre), intends to explain how Tokyo inspired fiction and how in return these fictions and their characters tend to create a new hybrid reality mixing real people and fantasy.


Japanese drums

Performing arts, food and art-de-vivre

Several Parisian theatres propose a wide range of Japan inspired shows until late February 2019. Ancient performing arts such as nô, kabuki, imperial gagaku (dance, music and songs of the Imperial Court), buyo (a mix of mime and dance) or kyogen (traditional comic theatre), but also a retrospective of one hundred years of Japanese cinema as well as modern performances such as Taiko Drums, contemporary dance, electro music, hip-hop performances, will be performed almost every night until the end of the season in February.


Tea Ceremony

Of course the Japanese House of Culture in Paris set in a modern building on the Seine River left bank close to the Eiffel Tower, welcomes many events all through “Japonismes”. Besides concerts, theatre performances and movies, it proposes cooking classes both for kids and adults, tea ceremony demonstrations, exhibitions of arts and crafts, folk performances… Other places such as bars, restaurants or even sports halls have joined in and invite you to discover sake, Japanese cuisine or martial arts.

Until February 2019, no need for a 12-hour long flight to travel to Japan and discover all aspects of this amazing and appealing culture close yet so far from our own. “Japonismes” not only shows us beautiful things, it builds bridges between continents.


More info about events, places and time at:

Text ©Annick Dournes