Explore the major technical and creative developments in arts and crafts of Japan after 1850 and visit the Ashmolean's tea house.
'Cherish old knowledge so that you can acquire new'
(Analects of Confucius)
Following the opening up of Japan, the government was eager to achieve equal status with the industrialized Western nations. Every effort was made to modernize Japan along Western lines. At the same time, official institutions and individuals alike also tried to preserve the best from Japan's past.
For Japanese artists this meant incorporating Western technology and designing their products to suit Western taste, while also drawing on their traditional skills. For example, makers of sword fittings adapted their metalworking skills to produce elaborate ornamental vases. Potters experimented with chemical glazes. Painters began to use oil paints and study Western art.
'Gorgeous with glitter and gold'
(E.S. Morse, 'Old Satsuma', Harpers New Monthly Magazine, 1888, describing Satsuma ceramics popular in the West at the time)
'Respect and preserve traditional art'
(Ryūchikai art society, early 1880s)
'Japanese spirit, Western technology'
(Meiji government slogan)