The Grimaldi Forum Monaco takes us from the 8th century up to the present day and from Kyoto to Tokyo along the historic Tokaido road that links Japan's ancient and modern capitals.
Kyoto in medieval times, with its artistic wealth and the key figures who ensured its supremacy until the 16th century: the samurais, the monks and the men of letters who produced some of the finest gems of Japanese literature.
The historic Tokaido, still the communication link between the two hubs forming the country's beating heart, with on the horizon the emblematic view of Mount Fuji that down through the centuries has continuously inspired artists of every type.
Tokyo starting at the post-war period (1950 to 1964) symbolized by Japanese cinema with its mythic directors such as Mizoguchi and Kurosawa, and in parallel the reconstruction as a prelude to the emergence of great architecture dominated by the figure of Kenzo Tange.
Then from 1965 the technology revolution enters the scene, with the development of robotics in particular, accompanied by the renewal of popular culture and especially the mangas that were quickly transposed into animated films, shown in their dual role both cultural and entertaining.
Finally, the very sudden return to ecological thinking after 1995, manifested through a concern for the environment and an interest in design, following economic recession and the trauma of the earthquake that destroyed Kobe.
The exhibition concludes by looking at contemporary art in a country where the cultural scene very rapidly fused genres and traditional aesthetics with ubiquitous technology, as if to create stronger links between past and modernity.
Some 600 exhibits illustrate this history, among them works of the highest quality, classed as cultural heritage, from the collections in Tokyo's and Kyoto's national museums as well as additional loans from Western institutions – Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Musée Guimet in Paris, Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels, Museo Stibbert in Florence, the Oriental art museums in Venice and Turin, the Asian art museums in Berlin and San Francisco – and of course numerous private collectors.