Unusual Stories from Poland and Japan

14.04.2019 - 02.06.2019

Opening: 14.04.2019, 12.00

Idea and script: Bogna Dziechciaruk-Maj and Katarzyna Nowak Curator: Katarzyna Nowak Exhibition design: LATALA design studio

On the centenary of the diplomatic relations between Poland and Japan

The Polish-Japanese relations have unfolded along various paths, irrespective of political and economic changes, wars, and the Cold War period. Like all interactions between countries, they had their official existence, through the exchange of diplomats and politicians’ visits, and in the case of Japan also those by representatives of the imperial court. But of course that was not all. There were also relations of an economic and military nature, exchange of experiences in social activism, and more recently business and academic contacts. Above all, however, they have been built by cooperation in the sphere of culture – one can safely speak of a mutual fascination of the Poles and the Japanese with the cultures and arts of the two nations.

The opening of the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in 1994 contributed to the intensification of these relations and made them profounder through the exhibitions, presentations, meetings, lectures, workshops, performances, and concerts that were held here. This year the Manggha Museum celebrates 25 years of its existence. This is one-fourth of the 100 years of our shared history. 

What is decisive for the unique status of the Polish-Japanese relations is interaction between individuals. A hundred years of mutual relations means a great number of unusual – and this is by no means an exaggeration – cinematic and literary stories about individual people. It is those – specific figures and personalities – that fill these stories: politicians, like Józef Piłsudski; diplomats, like Consul Chiune Sugihara, who saved Jewish lives during the war; scholars and researchers, like Bronisław Piłsudski; social activists, like Lech Wałęsa, founder of Solidarity and President of Poland, or the Polish Franciscan Friar Zeno, who looked after the homeless and orphans in Tokyo; and artists, like Andrzej Wajda, Tadeusz Kantor, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mirosław Bałka, Toshihiro Hamano, Kiyoshi Awazu, Kenya Hara, or Koichi Sato. The Japanese people’s love for the music of Frederic Chopin is also something to note in this context.

Culture, art and tradition are a treasure trove of such ‘unusual stories’. We swap them and learn to give them new readings, which not only sustains our mutual fascinations but actually makes them grow.

Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as a part of the Multi-annual Programme “Niepodległa” 2017–2022.



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