Looking Inward, Looking Outward: Japanese Representations of Self and Other
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"Looking Inward, Looking Outward" presents, for the first time, a representative sample of the remarkable items contained in the Japanese collection of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. The physical exhibit, held August 2004-January 2005, was organized around one theme that runs through the collection: Japanese perceptions of themselves and the outside world, and the changes in those perceptions over time. Beginning with the intersections of India-China-Japan in the eighth century, during which time writing and Buddhism exerted a profound influence on Japan, Japanese history has been punctuated by periods of vigorous trade and exchange, followed by isolation. This exhibit was designed spatially to reflect those moments, with the center area of the exhibit representing the intersections between Japan and the outside world, and the two opposing walls representing Japanese views of self and the outside world during the lengthy period of Tokugawa isolation (17th - 19th centuries).

The north wall, "Looking Inward," and its cases contained items that portray Japanese domestic life, including the flourishing literary and cultural arts, work and play, war and religion, and the penchant Japanese artists and writers had for documenting daily life. The south wall, "Looking Outward," and its cases were designed to show Japanese representations of the outside, primarily Western, world during a time when trade was limited to a small trickle carefully filtered through Dutch traders in Nagasaki. The Nagasaki "intersection" is represented in the center of the room by a triangle of hanging scrolls and maps. The back wall shows Japan proceeding towards opening to the West, culminating in the establishment of a foreign trading community in Yokohama. In addition, the northeast corner contained a digitized display that allowed visitors to examine a large-format painted scroll of Japanese images of the supernatural.