Kobe City Museum 神戸市立博物館

Between East and West

While Japan can at times seem to be rather inward-looking, Kobe City Museum demonstrates that this isn't always the case! The museum documents the influence of foreigners, particularly Europeans, on the history and culture of Japan.

The art of "barbarians"

The museum of the city of Kobe opened its doors in 1982, in a former Bank of Tokyo building. It thus unites under one roof the collections of the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Namban Art. There are more than 39,000 exhibits: archaeological objects, works of art, maps and historical documents. The Namban Art (南蛮美術, nanban bijutsu) dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is obviously well represented: it translates as "the art of Southern barbarians", that is to say Europeans, especially the Portuguese. The paintings brought by Europeans to Japan and the representations of these Europeans by Japanese artists of the time fall into this category. These pictures are often caricatures, the Japanese mocking European style: big noses, swollen pants and extravagant costumes abound! There is also a portrait of Saint Francis Xavier, the Jesuit who introduced Christianity to Japan.

Read : Oura, the oldest church in Japan

Saint Francis Xavier

Saint Francis Xavier, the first missionary in Japan.

Kobe City Museum official website

Address, timetable & access

Our tours in Kobe

  • Duration : 21 days
  • Locations : Tokyo, Hakone Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Nara, Koyasan, Osaka, Kobe, Takachiho, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Miyajima
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