We will reopen from April 2022. [FOR DETAILS]


Part of the second floor is used to organize special exhibitions three times a year. Themes are taken from both Japanese folk art and archaeological fields.

● Edo Period Cosmetic Utensils  April 9 (Tue) - July 4 (Fri), 2024

● Palaeolithic Period along the Nogawa River  September - November , 2024

● [TBA]  January - March , 2025


● THE HEART OF MINGEI  April 11 (Tue) - July 7 (Fri), 2023

● Tsuba and Hand-Painted Plates from the Yuasa Collection  September 12 (Tue) - November 9 (Thu), 2023

● KATAGAMI―Japanese Paper Stencil Techniques  January 9 (Tue) - March 14 (Thu), 2024

Katagami are stencils used for dyeing made from Japanese paper on which patterns are carved, the paper having been waterproofed with persimmon tannin. When dyeing using Katagami, the stencil is first placed on the fabric and a dye-resist paste made of rice is applied over it. After the fabric is dyed and the paste washed off, the areas covered by paste remain undyed forming white patterns. Katagami are used in the application of small figure designs on cloth (edokomon), printed silk (kata yūzen), as well as on light cotton cloth for yukata. The history of Katagami is long. Stencil dyeing employing the same techniques as today was already in practice during the Kamakura period (1185–1333).

Usually, one stencil is moved across a piece of material to produce a continuous design. Elaborate patterns can be made by using two or three stencils, which is called “double stenciling” or “triple stenciling.” Pattern-carving methods include push-carving, awl-carving, pull-carving, and tool-carving, with appropriate techniques used for different designs. Thread insertion, requiring supreme delicacy and high level of technique, is necessary to hold patterns in place. Most of the stencils are from the Shiroko and Jike areas of Suzuka city along the Ise Bay, and they are generally known as “Ise paper stencils” (Ise Katagami). They became popular during the Edo period (1603–1868) due to the patronage of the Ki Domain. There are stencils from areas other than Ise, such as Kyoto, Edo and Aizu as well.

This exhibition highlights the great variety of Katagami patterns and the sophistication and precision of carving techniques employed.

* We will be hosting an online open lecture related to the special exhibition. [FOR DETAILS]


● Selection from the Yuasa Museum Collection   April 12 (Tue) - June 15 (Wed), 2022

It has been quite a while since we were taken away the enjoyment of travelling abroad, studying overseas, or even going back home for holidays. Our yearning toward free travel continues to become stronger. The joy of visiting faraway places and fleeing from everyday life has attracted people throughout history. During the Edo period, when means of travel was underdeveloped and people were not allowed to travel freely, making a grand tour around the country was a dream. People would look at ukiyo-e depicting beautiful scenic spots to comfort themselves; they would take their chance to visit famous places when they could travel as a group to make pilgrimage to temples and shrines, or when going for hot spring cure.

The theme of this exhibition is people’s aspiration for travel. We have selected items with designs of famous places and travelers, as well as sugoroku which were not only board games but also handy maps. Also displayed are portable travel items and wear from the Museum collection. Thinking of the times and the people who dreamed of beautiful scenes yet unseen, we hope that this show will be a hopeful prologue to the days of free travel to come in the near future.

● Banks' Florilegium: Plants from the Tierra del Fuego Section  September 13 (Tue) - November 10 (Thu), 2022

Banks’ Florilegium is a set of copperplate engravings of exotic botanical illustrations collected by Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820) and his scientific team when they joined Captain James Cook’s first expedition around the world on HMS Endeavour (1768–1771).

The Florilegium was to be published together with botanical descriptions immediately after their return (between 1771 and 1784), but they were never entirely printed until 200 years later. It was in the 1980s that the Alecto Historical Editions in collaboration with the Natural History Museum printed the illustrations using the original copperplates. A limited edition of 100 sets of 743 colored copperplate engravings were made.

The ICU Library houses the complete set of the Florilegium, and we have planned to show the prints successively. As the seventh in the series, all of the 66 prints (pl. 674–738, 743) from the flora of Tierra del Fuego are exhibited for the first time.

Late 18th century was characterized by a growing interest in the new world outside of the European continent, which also led to the discovery and study of new and useful exotic plants. We hope that you will enjoy the details and beauty of these prints which reflect the enthusiasm in botanical prints in Banks' era.

● Japanese Lacquerware  January 10 2023 - March 2, 2023


● Memories of Ritual Prayer on Miyako Island: The Photographs of Uwai Sachiko and Higa Yasuo
April 14 (Tue) - July 3 (Fri), 2020 CANCELLED

Unique religious rituals have been practiced and handed down for hundreds of years on the islands of the Ryukyu Arc located at the southwestern end of the Japanese Archipelago. In many of these rituals, women, as shamans, play a major role. Some rituals are forbidden to be seen, either by outsiders, or by anyone even within the community.

Two photographers, Uwai Sachiko (1934–2011) and Higa Yasuo (1938–2000), frequented these islands from the 1970s, taking photographs of secret religious practices preserved by local people and passed down generation to generation, even during the turbulent years of war and occupation in the 1940s and 1950s. The oldest form of these religious rituals can be found on the island of Miyako, located about 300 km south of Okinawa. The photographs provide unique and detailed evidence of the island’s distinctive spiritual culture. This exhibition is a joint project of Dr. Sachiyo Fujita-Round (Visiting Associate Professor, ICU) and the Yuasa Museum, made possible with full cooperation of the Mabuigumi Committee that has been hosting exhibitions of the two photographers since 2018. It will be the first exhibition juxtaposing the works of Uwai and Higa outside of Okinawa prefecture.

Today, the spiritual world of the Ryukyu Arc is changing; rituals have become simplified and some even lost due to a lack of successors. We hope that these rare visual records, captured by the photographers each with their own particular focus, will help to preserve the collective memories of the community, and offer important keys to understanding the now-endangered spiritual origins of the islands of the Ryukyu Arc.

◆ Exhibition Guide
  1. Booklet (PDF, in Japanese and English)
◆ Movies
  1. Trailer movie
  2. Gallery Tour Vol.1 (1/3)
  3. Gallery Tour Vol.2 (2/3)
  4. Gallery Tour Vol.3 (3/3)
  5. Live Talk Session (June 13, 2020)
◆ Online Event
  • ● “Memories of Ritual Prayer on Miyako Island” Live Talk Session
  • Panelists:
    Dr. Sachiyo Fujita-Round, Visiting Associate Professor, International Christian University
    Dr. Robert Eskildsen, Director of Yuasa Museum, Professor, International Christian University
  • Date:June 13 (Sat), 2020 14:00~14:45
  • Location: Online via ZOOM Webinar
  • Talk will be in Japanese.
  • Admission Free, but registration is required.

● Japanese Lacquerware from the Yuasa Museum Collection  
September 23 (Wed) - November 13 (Fri), 2020 POSTPONED

This special exhibition has been postponed.

*Open lecture related to this special exhibition was cancelled, but we hosted a webinar instead.


Katagami—Japanese Paper Stencil Techniques
January 12 (Tue) - March 19 (Fri), 2021 POSTPONED

This special exhibition has been postponed.

*Open lecture related to this special exhibition was cancelled, but we will be hosting a webinar instead.