A special exhibition at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) dubbed the “THE SEKAI-ICHI - Unique Inspirations ‘Made in Japan’ ” began on Dec 7. Over 200 examples of Japan’s finest and one-of-a-kind products and techniques are introduced at the exhibition lasting till May 6 2014.

Director Mamoru Mohri was present at the press preview on Dec 5 to comment on the significance of breathing “heart” into material objects; “an example of this is the Japanese katana (sword); which until several centuries ago was nothing but a ‘weapon’. But over time a heart called ‘Bushido’ was breathed into it and it became something to outlast its era.”

General supervisor Kazuyoshi Suzuki explained the distinction between “art” in the West and in Japan as based on “the difference of Western art as devotions to “God” created in the upper social classes and a more down-to-earth idea of “beauty” rooted in the daily lives of ordinary people in Japan.” Taking the technique of kintsugi (repairing broken pottery with lacquer resin and powdered gold) as an example, he commented; “The concept of mending broken things and making art from them instead of throwing them away, then handing them down through the generations- it is a uniquely Japanese spirit worthy of praise.”

Other exceptional exhibits include the Guinness-recognized wedding dress with the most number of pearls (13,262) on it. “It was my ambition of 48 years to make a dress with real pearls, not imitation ones” commented designer Yumi Katsura of the pearl-studded wedding dress. She spent three months hand-sewing each of the 13,262 Akoya pearls onto the dress made in collaboration with jewelry brand “MIKIMOTO”. The dress will be on display till Mar 3 2014.

Another Yumi Katsura wedding dress, tailored from the world’s thinnest silk fabric, was modeled at the press preview. The silk used for the dress was developed by Fukushima textile manufacturer Saiei Orimono and won the Prime Minister’s Award at the “4th Monozukuri Nippon Grand Awards”. The dress’s many ultra-thin layers swayed with each of the model’s steps, and together with the design in which the fingertips were sewn onto the skirt in resemblance of a hagoromo (angel robe), created a tennyo (celestial maiden)-like atmosphere. Katsura commented, “The technology it takes to weave cloth from a silk strand a sixth of a hair’s thickness is very sophisticated. I used 55 meters of fabric for this dress, yet it only weighs 600 grams.” This dress will be on display from Mar 5 2014.

Pioneers of “sheet metal forming” Yamashita Kogyosho demonstrated notes played on string instruments formed from aluminum. The same skill it takes craftsmen to laboriously hammer out sheets of metal into the delicate curves of a cello is also used to shape the metallic “nose” part of bullet trains. Suzuki commented, “It would cost immeasurable money and time to try to create this musical instrument by ‘machine’. But handmade by ‘people’ it becomes feasible and takes much less time. Our world may be becoming more mechanized by the day, but what remains unchanged is that truly leading-edge technologies are always brought to us through the hands of people.”

Others among the exhibits are “Sakiori”- a textile technique of splitting old and worn cloths into strips and weaving them into new cloth, “Kamon”- Japanese coat-of-arms that are inspired from motifs in nature, “Samekomon”- kimono decorated so finely that from afar appear to be unpatterned, alongside many more products of state-of-the-art Japanese techniques from robots to toys, car engines and the Epsilon rocket.

Suzuki concluded, “The Japanese have the skill to create things that are useful to people, and to better those things even further. The first step for us is to acknowledge that Japan possesses many such fine skills. We can then begin to communicate our incredible strengths to the rest of the world. ”

【Event Information】
THE SEKAI-ICHI - Unique Inspirations “Made in Japan”
Venue: The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Address: 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Exhibited Through: Dec 7 to May 6 2014
Closed on: Tuesdays (Except when Tuesday falls on a National Holiday and during Spring/ Autumn breaks) and from Dec 28 to Jan 1.
Opening/ Closing Times: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (entry by 30 min prior to close)
Admission: Admission: Adults - 1,000yen
18 years and under - 300yen
Kindergarten and under- admission free