Japan: Kingdom of Characters
For someone with the most basic of features – and indeed, no mouth at all – Hello Kitty, the animated Japanese cat created by toy company Sanrio in 1974, is able to express any number of emotions as she adorns everything from children’s toys to household appliances. While the pink cat is the most recognisable outside Japan, she’s just one of thousands of characters that have permeated Japanese life since the end of World War II, from manga comics and books, television, movies and computer games to everyday products, street signs and even medical supplies. In recent years, a subculture related to Japanese anime and manga has rapidly attracted world-wide attention. To make the most of this trend, the Japan Foundation has organized this traveling exhibition called Japan: Kingdom of Characters which examines characters as one radical aspect of this subculture. Organised in decades, Japan: Kingdom of Characters builds a continual picture of how the Japanese character phenomenon has developed from the 1950s and ‘60s through to now. The exhibition includes giant inflatable characters, anime figurines and toys and the recreation of a teenage girl’s bedroom in Japan, infused with Hello Kitty. In this exhibition, as we introduce the intimate relationship between characters and Japanese people, we hope that the visitors will gain a better understanding of the cultural and historical background behind the Japanese love of characters as well as the future of characters in contemporary Japan - The Japan Foundation Presented by the Japan Foundation and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum.