This year will see J400 an international celebration of the 400th anniversary of Japan – UK relations with a series of cultural events planned in Japan and the UK throughout the year. As part of this programme, this exhibition is the first time - in this country – that some of the finest and most interesting Japanese antiquarian books, manuscripts and documents held by the Tenri Central Library are presented together. The exhibitions will present the public with an accessible insight into the historical relationship between Japan and the UK and encourage a greater understanding of some of the shared knowledge, interests and experiences, and the influence of the previous 400 years on this relationship today.

Visitors can experience the one thousand year long history of Japanese classical texts and highlight their bookbinding style, format, paper quality, illustration and calligraphic style so that Japanese book culture can be appreciated in all its beauty.

A programme of public events and demonstrations throughout April, May and June will be available to introduce and explain some of the key themes in the exhibition to new audiences – these will include Gagaku, Higashibabha, calligraphy and origami using the exhibition as their setting.

Tenri Central Library, in Japan, is well known among book enthusiasts around the world for its valuable and rare collection of classical Japanese books from various genres and periods. The Library holds an extraordinary collection of rare books, including manuscripts and documents, about 1,830,000, roughly two-thirds of which are Japanese, Korean and Chinese books, and one-third Western, including Arabic and African books.