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The Exhibition

This exhibition explores British royal encounters with Japan over a period of 350 years.

From samurai armour sent to James I in 1613, to a Coronation gift for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, Japanese treasures have reached the British Court through trade, travel and treaties.

Each object on display reflects materials and techniques particular to Japan. Uniquely, many were commissioned or presented by the Japanese Imperial Family. Together, they reveal the ceremonial, diplomatic and artistic exchange linking the two courts of East and West.

Discover the exhibits in the sections below

First Encounters

The first diplomatic gift from Japan to Britain

Like many wares destined for the European market, this table caster combines Chinese and Japanese elements. The form is of a Chinese junk. Such vessels were a romantic symbol of East Asia for orientalists in eighteenth-century Europe. By the end of that c

200 years of trade restrictions made valuable Japanese wares all the more desirable

Photograph of a man pulling a jinrikisha (a Japanese type of rickshaw) with a passenger who holds up a parasol. The jinrikisha is depicted crossing the wooden Tagonoura Bridge, which is reflected in Fuji river. Two sailing barges

Japan's policy of isolation ended in the 1850s, opening up diplomatic opportunities

Japanese folding fan (ogi): flying a kite (recto) and Mount Fuji (verso)

An Anglo-Japanese alliance renewed British interest in Japan in the early 20th century

The Emperor Shōwa sent this rare and refined piece to Her Majesty The Queen as a Coronation gift in 1953 – just one year after Japanese-British relations had been normalised by the Treaty of San Francisco, signed in 1951 and brought into force in 1

A Coronation gift that symbolises a new era of friendship

Cropped Creative Commons-licensed image of Japanese flag flying in Tokyo
In Japanese | 日本語


The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.