Amaterasu, the sun goddess in Shintoism, was hiding in her cave as darkness and chaos spread across the world. Some noisy children arrived and started playing the drums. taiko with so much energy that the goddess woke up and filled everything with light… and in the process inspired the creators of the famous video game Wein one of the clearest manifestations of the powerful influence of ancestral mythology in Japanese popular culture, rabidly hypermodern.
From myths to manga is titled a surprising exhibition that is at the same time the calling card of the Young V&A, the imaginative and youthful version of the emblematic Bethnal Green museum (London), which has wanted to be infected with the playful spirit that has animated Japanese artistic production since time immemorial.
“We wanted to replicate as much as possible the playfulness and creativity that permeates Japanese culture,” explains curator Katy Canales, who emphasizes her capacity for reinvention and “constant transformation”: from the netsuke miniatures of the 17th century to the invasion of Pokémon in the 21st century, from the great wave of ukiyo-e from Hokusai to the entry into orbit of Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy.
A wood engraving by Utagawa Kunisada, recreating the story of the goddess Amaterasu, opens the doors of this journey to the imagination of the rising sun. The drums taikodesigned by Noritaka Tatehana are below an invitation to awaken the luminous spirit in these dark times.
From there we jumped to the stars, with an obligatory stop at Tanabata, the festival that celebrates the “interstellar romance” between Vega and Altair, reincarnated as a princess and a shepherd embarking on an almost impossible love story (they can only be seen once a year: on the seventh day of the seventh month). Tradition dictates that terrestrial lovers also take advantage of that day to formulate their wishes on small strips of paper (tanzaku) that are tied to bamboo poles.