For its first exhibition after reopening, Young V&A is looking at the Japanese legends underpinning many of its Anime and Manga stories.

However, unless I missed something, and I went around twice to check, it’s a very bitty exhibition that felt more like collecting a random selection of items and putting them on display.

There are themes to the display, of the four topics of Sky, Sea, Forest, and City, and each tells some of the mythic legends of Japanese culture. However, it just felt a very thin exhibition, somehow lacking depth or context to what was being shown.

There’s a lot to look at, and in a peculiar way, it felt more like an art exhibition where rooms are filled with art, and you’re left to work out it is yourself, and here, there’s lots on the walls, with small captions.

Yes, I learned a little bit here and there, but nothing stuck in my memory afterwards — it’s a thin buffet rather than a meal.

I was particularly baffled by the no photography sign next to an old Japanese flag. Were they really unable to find a Japanese flag owned by someone who wouldn’t mind people taking a photo of it?

It’s an odd experience, as I rarely leave an exhibition thinking… well, was that it? But I did this time.

If it was a free exhibition, I might have said it was worth visiting if you’re in the area — but at £10 per person, it’s pretty hard to recommend a visit.

The exhibition, Japan: Myths to Manga is at Young V&A in Bethnal Green until August 2024.

Tickets can be reserved here or bought on the day.


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  1. Dncn says:

    I wonder if the no photos rule on the old flag was for political reasons; the Japanese imperial flag is a bit like a Nazi swastika to certain people today for the atrocities inflicted by Japan.

    • David Withers says:

      Please remember this is a children’s exhibition and children’s museum for the very young !!!

  2. Chasidah says:

    Very bad value for money considering the £10 admission. Very disappointing. No real cohesion. Uninteresting exibits. Clumsy curating. Relieved to have paid only £4 as an ArtFund Member! As a free exibition, it would have worked well. Don’t waste your money on this one…..

  3. Ste Watts says:

    The Young V&A must be the least inspiring museum in London. (The Museum of the Home is a close second.) Its exhibits are stultifying and child unfriendly.
    Every school party I took to The Museum of Childhood hated it with a passion.(Who says that teachers can’t punish kids these days?)
    They had an amazing opportunity to revolutionise the space when it closed and rebranded.
    Unfortunately they just moved the dreary displays around and created a massive cafe space.

    • Reaper says:

      Couldnt agree more the V&A in general is one of the worst museums in London. Cannot remember the last time I went there and enjoyed it. The cafe however is always a delight.

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