Made up of over 450 artists, 40 performances, and over a dozen free events, this interactive exhibition showcases all things Japanese: theater, dance, music, fashion, art, photography, literature, and, of course, toys.
According to the DCist, the terrace level of the building is where it’s at. Here you’ll find a two- and-a-half-foot yellow robot that moves about and shakes your hand as a reward for correct pronunciations of Japanese words. Just beyond is a glass-enclosed display of Jumbo Machinders (courtesy of American-born Japan fan Matt Alt, who began collecting these life-size toys when he was a boy) featuring classics such as Voltron and Godzilla.
Other points of intrigue: A manga and anime reading room; the innovative folding screens (byobu) of Motoko Maio; the lacquered sculptures of Tanaka Nobuyuki; and the vivid photographic portraits and still lifes of Mika Ninagawa, one of Japan’s most popular photographers.
But wait! There’s more! Costume displays. Drum performances. Robot demos. And a mixed media installation by avant-garde sculptor, painter and novelist Yayoi Kusama
called “Dots Obsession,” which is composed of two rooms—one bright yellow with large black dots and the other black with large yellow dots—guaranteed to make you feel loopy and, in some cases, slightly mad. Kusama, who lives voluntarily in an institution in Japan, effectively uses her art to work through her own inner turmoil:
I have stood between the pleasure and fear of filling the void of my heart with ever so infinite dots obsession and I feel elated all over my body.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
The good news is that, minus a few performances and guided tours, this exhibition is free. For more information on the various events and shows taking place, consult the exhibition’s daily calendar on the Kennedy Center’s website.
Feb. 5 – Feb. 17 at The Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street NW, Washington D.C.; 800-444-1324; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Photo: Klea Scharberg via Flickr