Japanese Manga Comes to London's British Museum

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Japanese manga artist Hoshino Yukinobu has brought his popular character Professor Munakata to London's British Museum, featuring some of the collection's most famous treasures in his drawings.

In a single-room display near the entrance to the famous museum, a giant picture of folklore expert Munakata donning his trademark bowler hat and black cape includes the Sutton Hoo helmet dating from the 7th-century.

One reason the British Museum wanted to work with Hoshino was because of its exhibition of dogu, ceramic figures from ancient Japan which runs until November 22.

"One of the aspects of that project was exploring how the prehistoric figurines have been rediscovered and re-enjoyed in contemporary culture," said curator Tim Clark.

"A lot of his Professor Munakata stories have shown him touring around Japan to archeological sites and having encounters with the dogu, so it was actually the dogu project that brought us to him."

Clark also said the character of Professor Munakata had a common purpose with the museum in that both, in different ways, "have a fascination in unraveling the mysteries of the past."

One of the captions in the display written by Hoshino, also points to a cultural purpose in the collaboration.

Noting that Britain and Japan were both island states, he wrote: "Britain chose to explore beyond the seas whereas Japan has often been enclosed by the sea. Professor Munakata will go on to investigate such differences, which are deeply rooted in our cultural identities."

Although the display, which runs until January 3, is small, a larger exhibition on manga and its place in popular culture could follow...

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