150 Years of Modern Japanese Music


A hundred and fifty years have passed since the Japanese people first came into contact with Western music at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868–1912). People lived through a major turning point that is directly related to the thinking and the culture of Japan today. This exhibition is grounded in cultural history, and explores the story of how the people of Japan took to Western music, how they approached it. and how they have since constructed their own music. It represents an attempt to think about the meaning of music to people in Japan today.
The Meiji Gakuin University Library Archives of Modern Japanese Music houses and makes available some half a million documents, materials and other items. For the exhibition, a selection of items has been carefully chosen from the archives. They are augmented by a further three hundred items from the holdings of institutions such as museums, archives, and libraries around Japan, and from the collections of individual collectors. Together they attempt to present a view of how modern Japanese music has progressed.

Individual exhibits consist of a diverse array of library archive materials, including scores, instruments, correspondence, performance programmes, records, and paintings. To convey the atmosphere of each period, each of the four sections includes videos providing readily comprehensible overviews of the background to the period. The exhibition is configured to depict the details of changes associated with each period, giving a sense of running through the hundred and fifty years of history. Listening to the actual music ensures that the experience is auditory as well as visual. Over that period of dramatic change, our predecessors wrote their dreams on five-line staves. It will be fascinating to see how they resound in the hearts and minds of contemporary generations.

※Some exhibits will be rotated during the exhibition run for conservation reasons.

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