Japan-British Exhibition, London, 1910.

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Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

British monarch King George V and Japanese emperor Mutsuhito (Meiji) are depicted on a commemorative postcard for the Japan-British Exhibition, at London in 1910.

See also:
In the Japanese Gardens, Japan-British Exhibition, London (1910)
Entrance to the Japanese Fair, Japan-British Exhibition, London (1910)
Flip-Flap, Japan-British Exhibition, London, 1910.
Mountain Railyway, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910

“The Japanese and things Japanese will become not only the cynosure of British eyes, but indeed the centre of interest for visitors pouring from the countries of Europe and the two continents of America.

“No event in days of peace and tranquility has yet contributed so greatly towards advertising Japan as the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition will do.”

The Graphic, Tokyo, May, 1910

Japan-British Exhibition commemorative postcard, London, 1910.

“The 1910 Japan-British exhibition (more widely-know as ‘the Japanese exhibition’ as there was minimal British content) was held at the White City in Shepherd’s Bush, London, from 14 May to 29 October, 1910. The exhibition marked a milestone in the history of Japan’s participation in international exhibitions since, as it was Japan’s first joint exhibition with a European country, it presented visitors in London with an up-to-date picture of Japan.

“The Exhibition would also be an occasion to celebrate the on-going Anglo-Japanese Alliance, signed in 1902 and which would last for twenty years. Despite being held as a joint exhibition, by inviting Japanese exhibits and placing them in London for European visitors, the exhibition became, in effect, Japan’s introduction to the West. During its six-month run, the Exhibition is said to have attracted over 8,000,000 visitors.

Court of Progress, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

Court of Progress, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910. One of the large exhibition halls used in 1910 that was repurposed from the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition.

“The Exhibition re-used many of the larger pavilion structures (e.g. the Court of Honour, Court of Progress) first built for the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition held on the same grounds. Still, Japan’s visualization as a panorama by the Western audience was exemplified all over the exhibition grounds. A variety of aspects of Japanese lives was on display in the form of toy-sized miniatures, including models of Tokyo and the Shogun Mausoleum at Shiba temple; the small scale enabled Japan to present more accurate and all-encompassing panoramas. The Japanese Garden, in this regard, was one of the most important displays.

Japan-British Exhibition advertisement, 1910. [Source: The Illustrated London News. v. 136, May/Aug 1910]

“To show that Japan was an imperial power, just as Britain was, displays from her colonies and the Ainu and Taiwanese aborigines were brought over. In order to promote Japan as a peace-loving nation, numerous rare and high quality retrospective arts and elaborate traditional architecture models were exhibited and two authentic Japanese gardens were created at the site. At the same time, in order to promote trade, Japanese products and goods, including crafts, from many companies and artisans were exhibited. Many accompanying books, leaflets and catalogs were also published.

“There were some 2,271 Japanese exhibitors. Almost 500 leading Japanese firms sent items to London. Each of the Japanese government ministries was represented, along with the Japanese Red Cross and the post office, showing displays of the modern systems and facilities used by the governmental departments.

“Care was taken only to display the highest possible quality, to offset popular images that Japanese products were cheaply made and tawdry. In addition to manufactured goods, traditional and modern fine arts, and arts and crafts were well represented. One of the most popular craftsmen actually in the Exhibition was Horikawa Kozan, a celebrated potter. He was invited to demonstrate pottery-making and repair priceless antiquities, some of which had been in the possession of British collectors for generations.”


The Garden Club, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

The Garden Club, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

“Europeans and Americans have come to take the keenest interest in the institutions, civilization, industry, customs and manners and general characteristics of our people, but it appears that as yet, the real Japan is not sufficiently known.”

Japan Today, official souvenir booklet, 1910

"Digestin" exhibit, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

A display for “Digestin”, the Japanese digestive enzyme treatment prepared from the okazaki fungus (aspergillus family), named for Dr. Okazaki Keiichiro, the enzyme’s discoverer.

“The Japan-British Exhibition, which is now being held in London, offers attractions of a unique and almost unprecedented nature … The copies of Eastern architecture are extremely pleasing, either on a cold grey day or a sunny afternoon; assisted as the daylight fades by the light of the moon and soft white clouds, or when the skies are dependent alone on ‘starlight mingling with the stars,’ minaret and dome look equally splendid against either background.

“In daylight their architectural beauty is enhanced by the floral setting of masses of pink and scarlet geraniums and other glorious combinations of colour; at evening by the assistance of jets of light, emphasizing every ledge and profile of the beautiful outlines of Court and Treasure House, Torii, Temple, and Gateway. The whole conception is wonderfully thought out, and will be sure to leave a most pleasing impression upon all Englishmen and foreigners who have been able to pay the White City a visit, or contribute in any way to its success, as the outcome of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

“A very great privilege has been accorded to our nation far greater than the general public have any conception. We are viewing among the collections objects of art, of historic value and industrial work that many a native Japanese would count a high honour to be allowed to view.

“Those of us within whose lifetime the great changes of Japan have taken place, remember how, only a short time ago, these priceless swords and trusty weapons of the nation’s revered ancestors, were considered too precious for the possessor himself to examine or handle, unless animated with righteous wrath, or actuated to venture some bold and audacious deed for the services of a beloved liege lord.

“When we think of the religious labour and ceremony that was indispensable for the swordsmith to participate in, of the prayers and fasting and the purification compulsory for the swordsmith to observe; and when we read of the daring deeds that were accomplished on bloody battlefields by the aid of these weapons a feeling of awe and veneration steals over our minds .

“How great a change must have come over the nation to permit us to hold these relics in our midst, to see them with our Western eyes, and to make our casual remarks on their merits!”

“Some Remarks on the Japanese Section of the Japan-British Exhibition Held in London, 1910”, by Charlotte M. Salwey, M.J.S., Asian Quarterly Review,July-October 1910

Scenic Railway, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910.

Scenic Railway, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910. An early roller coaster ride on the Shepherd’s Bush exhibition grounds, first used for the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition.

Whirling Waters, Japan-British Exhibition, 1910. One of several amusement facilities on the grounds of the exhibition, including the “Witching Waves” and “Wiggle Woggle”.

More info: The 1910 Japan-British Exhibition – what’s left?

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