MUDEC: When Japan discovered Italy

Italy and Japan have always been united, especially in the city of Milan and the exhibition “When Japan discovered Italy” at the MUDEC is yet another demonstration.

MUDEC Giappone

On show at the MUDEC Museum of Cultures in Milan, we can see some exemplary cases of the first relations between Italy and Japan. Through this exhibition, we investigate how the Italian and Japanese imagination came to be formed in an important historical moment. Indeed, Europe was in fact opening up to the world, a phase in which many scholars identify the beginnings of globalization.

The route is divided into two main sections and investigates the western curiosity, the first moments of contact and the different relations between the two countries between 1585 and 1890.

When Japan discovered Italy: The exhibition

The first section, dedicated to “Ito Mancio and the Japanese embassies 1585 – 1615”, tells the beginnings of mutual knowledge between the two countries. Here, the authors pay great attention to the passage in Italy, in 1585, of four very young princes originating from the island of Kyūshū. The first meeting with Italy took place thanks to the help of the Jesuit fathers who accompanied the four principles.

Another focus deepens the second Christian embassy, of 1615, and the subsequent closure of Japanese ports from 1641 to 1853. The path continues showing the moment of the reopening of the latter.

MUDEC Giappone MUDEC Giappone MUDEC Giappone

Let’s not forget the special focus on the role of some Milanese collectors and traders in the formation of the “Civic Japanese art collections” now on display at the MUDEC.
The second section is in fact entirely dedicated to the figure of Count Giovanni Battista Lucini Passalacqua. The Count also went down in history for his famous “Japanese Museum” consisting of over 150 works including bronzes, fabrics, porcelains, and lacquers.

The exhibition intends to illustrate the main historical moments that determine and characterize the meeting between Japan and Italy. Through paintings, documents, books, antique maps and handicrafts we will be transported to an ancient era that will allow us to better understand these two nations and their relationship. Are you ready?


Dates: 1 October 2019 – 2 February 2020
Where: MUDEC Museum of Cultures – via Tortona 56, CAP 20144 Milan
Hours: Mon 14.30-19.30 – Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun 09.30-19.30 – Thu, Sat 9.30-22.30
Contacts:02 54917 | | Official Website