JAPAN: Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

Yesterday Metin and I headed out to Leiden (the Netherlands), partially for the JAPAN: Kingdom of Characters Exhibition. It recently opened in the Japan Museum SieboldHuis and highlights Japanese comic book icons from the 1950’s to present day.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Pikachu

At the entrance of the exhibition room we were greeted by a large Pickachu, which is probably still my favorite Pokémon character (closely followed by Psyduck). He represented the 2000’s decade, along with a picture of Rilakkuma, Sergeant Keroro and the newer Mametchi character from Tamagotchi.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

Each decade was represented by a panel, such as the one above. At the 1950’s – 1960’s corner you could find a life sized figure of Ultraman. Japanese series and toys where all about robots and a futuristic world at that time.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Hello Kitty

Of course Hello Kitty was chosen as icon of the 70’s. Many items of her were displayed in a Hello Kitty teenage girl’s bedroom. You could see a bed and desk, decorated with an overload of character goods:

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Hello Kitty Room

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Monchhichi

A couple of Monchhichi dolls, which were introduced in 1974, although I think these are the more recent plush versions.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

The 80’s with Lum (yay!), Nameneko and a large Mobile Suit Gundam. It also had some smaller anime PVC statues on display.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

The 90’s with anime characters and Tarepanda, showing a life sized version of Rei Ayanami.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

There were a couple of activities for kids and teenagers, such as dressing up, sushi sjoelen (I have no clue how this Dutch game is being called in English ;)), Manga drawing and a memory game. All in all the exhibition was really nicely set up. But to be honest I was a little disappointed by it’s size, which was only one room and some displays on the lower floor. I had expected more toys and figurines. Also it didn’t tell me many new things, but that might have to do with the fact that I’m a Japanofile (^_-)

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

On the first floor you could see displays with vintage Japanese toys, such as these cute kokeshi dolls.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

Gundam Haro toy and some Doreamon character items in the back.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

More robots, which I don’t know by name (#^.^#)

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Japan Museum

The permanent display was very nice, especially the room with handmade objects and detailed ink drawings. Let me just copy & paste this from the website:

The exhibition rooms each have their own atmosphere: an intimate study with plants, animals and colourful aquarelles; a panorama room with showcases almost four meters high; an impression of the past in a historical room where the story of Siebold’s family is told; An almost serene treasure room housing the most unique objects; and a map room where the visitor can plan his own trip.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

We had a little fun with the stand-in cutout and Photoshop here.

Japan Kingdom of Characters Exhibition - Cute Store

The museum shop offered some character goods and a good selection of books about manga and kawaii characters.

The Kingdom of Characters exhibition will be open until August 31st 2014 and you might consider going this Sunday (27 July), for a lecture on Japan’s cute culture (kawaii). We paid €8,- per person and received a small booklet with all the info and pictures of the panels. The Sieboldhuis is a 15-minute walk from Leiden Central Station, but you can also reach it by bus or by car, please have a look at these directions.

2 thoughts on “JAPAN: Kingdom of Characters Exhibition

  1. Oh my Gosh! We had that same exhibition here in Panama and I really thought it was something that was only locally in Panama. So shocked and happy to see this though you guy’s had a lot more stuff at your exhibition. I had been hoping for kawaii items on sale and we had none of that sadly. Will link you to my own posts about the event:star::cake::donut: below. : P



    1. Wow, thank you for linking to your post! It is the same exhibition indeed (O_o). We also saw the cut-out of the Japanese girl, she was “standing” in front of the hello kitty room. That’s too bad that you didn’t have many kawaii items for sale at the exhibition in Panama. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the related books in the museum shop. Maybe it’s because the Dutch museum was about Japan to start with? It was so nice reading your post, thanks for sharing Sophie ^_^.


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