January 31, 2020 – July 5, 2020 all-day
SieboldHuis, Leiden

From January 31, 2020 to July 5, 2020, Japan Museum SieboldHuis is showing the ‘Neko exhibition. The cat in Japanese art ‘. Traditional and contemporary Japanese prints, rare drawings, objects, beautiful scroll paintings and contemporary photos show the role of the cat in Japanese art through the ages. Large and small lovers of cats and Japanese art should not miss this exhibition!

In Japan the love for the cat (neko) is great. This can be seen in the indispensable icons from popular culture such as Hello Kitty, the YouTube sensation Maru the cat, the cat cafés and even several ‘cat islands’. Cats have been embraced by the population since their arrival in Japan. But where does this love come from? In the exhibition this is revealed on the basis of the themes ‘The cat in folk art’, ‘Cat mischief and evil cats’ and ‘Human cat or cat person’.


Photo: Ogino Naoyuki, The little deity 2019, Collection Ibasho Gallery

Funny cats transformed into humans, but also the playfulness, cuteness and natural behavior of the cat can be seen in the various objects, prints, scroll paintings and illustrated booklets in Japan Museum SieboldHuis. The rare sketches of 19th-century print artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), for example, are tangible proof of his special relationship with his pet. Also in the prints of Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) cats figure in the woodblock prints with beautiful ladies and courtesans. Besides traditional ukiyo-e , is also the 20 th and 21 th century prints and paintings covered. There are also special items such as netsuke, bronze sculptures and large 19 e centurymaneki neko , beckoning lucky charms (also known as lucky cats).

There are many anthropomorphic cats within contemporary Japanese popular culture. The most famous example of the personification of the cat is Hello Kitty. In the ‘NEKO Project’ contemporary photography comes together from cat-loving Japanese photographers.
The Japanese cat is portrayed in many ways in the Japan Museum SieboldHuis. See the cat in the art, do the neck hunt, get happiness from the maneki-neko and relax on the large cat bed. Whether it’s playful ‘house tigers’, mischief or evil cats, this exhibition shows how the love for the cat is expressed in Japanese art through the ages.
S0048Especially for children:
Children can pick up the free ‘Neko quiz’ in the museum shop. Follow the black kitten through the exhibition and answer the questions. Afterwards, go to the basement of the museum and make a cat coloring page, play the neko memory game and solve the quiz. Hand in the form at the checkout in the museum shop. Who knows, you might win a prize!

(Children up to 12 years free museum entrance)

Ichiki Sohō. Cat with rat in lantern, 1915. Collection Nihon no hanga

Catalog and activities
A richly illustrated catalog will accompany this exhibition. This is for sale in the museum shop. In addition, various activities, lectures and guided tours are organized as part of the exhibition. A free quiz is available for children. View the current program on the website.