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Japan: Myths to Manga at the Young V&A REVIEW

The Young V&A is all about looking at new, engaging ways of presenting stuff and this, its first temporary exhibition in the redesigned museum, is no exception.

The exhibition space runs down one side of the upper floor of the airy atrium. It is loosely divided into different sections with most of the exhibits round the outer walls (at child-eye level, a nice touch), leaving the central space pretty much clear, with lots of room for little ones to let off steam while still being in the same room as you, or sit down and engage with some of the activities on offer.

First and foremost, is an exhibition about stories. Loosely divided thematically, follow sections through the sky, the sea, the forest and, later, the city, and learn about the strange creatures and magical tales that have populated these spaces in Japanese folklore over hundreds of years. Along the way, you meet the characters and traditions that underpin modern day Manga art. There is something for all comers, from complete Manga novices to existing fans of Studio Ghibli et al.

There are heaps of interactive stations in the centre of the space. Have fun playing the drums to tempt the sun goddess Amaterasu out of her cave; sit down on the squishy stool and make an origami bear; choose a template to create your own manga. Or just pick out a story and cuddle up and read.

Our only grouch, there is no discount for kids and children of 4+ have to pay full price. Admittedly the admission price is a reasonable £10 p/p but for a family of four with kids of say, 6 and 8, that is £40. On the plus side, once you have been you can come back again as many times as you like.

That grumble aside, this is a fascinating, fun show that combines old and new in a way that is fresh, accessible and exciting. If this is the future of curation for family exhibitions, hurrah!

Half Term

If you have Manga-mad kids aged 10–14, there are still tickets available for their fantastic half term event, Teen Takeover: All about anime on Saturday, 28 October, 1–3.30pm. Tickets: £20, accompanying adult free.

Japan: Myths to Manga at Young V&A to 8 September, 2024. Tickets: £10.

Emily Turner, 13 October 2023


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