14.11.2022 ‒ 31.12.2022
In the last few days of October 2022, at the Lithuanian-Japanese Prime Ministers' Summit in Japan, it was agreed to upgrade the bilateral relations of Lithuania and Japan to the level of a strategic partnership. This is the highest peak of bilateral cooperation achieved by the countries since 20 December 1922, when the Japanese government signed the Act of Recognition of the Republic of Lithuania, which symbolically became the beginning of diplomatic relations, or “kizuna”.
In this exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of friendly relations between Lithuania and Japan, this exhibition tells the story of the kizuna (bonds). By travelling through different historical periods, starting from the second half of the 19th century, when Lithuania was still a part of the Russian Empire and Japan was a country that had just opened its ports to foreign countries and begun to modernise, the goal is to illustrate how the relations between the two countries have developed and progressed, and which events, documents or personalities have become the symbols and markers of that process.
The kizuna (bonds) is not just about historical dates, archival documents or agreements, but also about people: friends and associates, colleagues and partners, diplomats, heads of state and businessmen, translators, actors, musicians and artists ‒ all of whom share their ideas, dreams and work, creating new connections and links, continuing old ones and giving birth to new traditions and histories.
On that September morning in 1862, could the Japanese travellers who had just had breakfast in one of the city's hotels on their way from St Petersburg to Königsberg have had any idea about Steponas Kairys, the author of the first books about Japan? And could he have thought of Kumiko Hirano, the journalist who wrote a book about him in Japanese more than 100 years later? And would Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis have believed that Tokyo would host the first foreign exhibition of his works after the restoration of Lithuania’s independence, that through Jonas Mekas's films he would bring to Lithuania the linguist Professor Ikuo Murata and the composer Ichiro Kato, and that Professor Vytautas Landsbergis and Jurgis Mačiūnas would be linked to Japan on his behalf as well?
A special place in this exhibition is dedicated to books: translations of fiction and poetry, picture books, scientific monographs, travel essays, dictionaries and textbooks. They not only speak of the diplomatic, cultural or economic kizuna from which they originated, but they have also become a tool for the creation of new kizuna that involve each one of us.
The organisers and promoters of the exhibition sincerely thank all those who have contributed to the realisation of this exhibition and hope that the story of the Lithuanian-Japanese kizuna (bonds) will become a point of origin for the creation of further ones and the making of more meaningful ones.
Exhibition organisers: Gabija Čepulionytė, Jurgita Ignotienė, Assoc. Prof. Linas Didvalis, Ph.D., Arvydas Kumpis, Ph.D., Linas Venclauskas, Ph.D., Saulius Valius, Ona Vėliūtė
Organisers: National Library of Lithuania, Embassy of Japan in Lithuania
Key partners: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania
Sponsors: Lithuanian Culture Council, Toshiba International Foundation
You can read more about the history of Lithuanian-Japanese relations on the website ritoja.lt created by researchers from Vytautas Magnus University.