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Japanese Cars at the Science Museum in London

Date: 2008 October 19 12:55

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Fans of design, cars, science or just cool Japanese stuff in general will want to pay a visit to the Japan Car exhibition at the Science Museum in London, from 29th November 2008 until 19th April 2009.

The exhibition is set to focus on size, environment and "moving urban cells". It will also display cars along other elements of Japanese culture, including bonsai, art and design.

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Press release as follows:

Japanese cars and culture travel to the Science Museum for new exhibition

Japan Car

Designs for the crowded globe

29 November 2008 – 19 April 2009

The world of Japanese car design set against the backdrop of Japan's unique culture is explored in a sophisticated new exhibition at the Science Museum, from 29 November 2008.

Japan Car, an exploration of the car as a "mobile cell", has been conceived by two world class names from outside the world of automobile: Kenya Hara, the man responsible for much of the success of Muji, and Shigeru Ban, the distinguished Japanese architect currently designing a new satellite gallery in Metz for Paris' Pompidou Centre.

The exhibition, sponsored by seven Japanese car manufactures, shows how Japanese car design reflects the ‘soil and the spirit of Japan', shown through concept cars and special home market models. Japan Car explores three themes while examining the future of mobility in cities. Japan, being both highly innovative and densely populated, can be seen as the driving force behind transport solutions for twenty-first century cities.

The exhibition will explore:

  • Size - small yet sophisticated vehicles and special kei cars, which are both compact and technologically advanced

  • Environment – climate-conscious hybrids intended to reduce carbon and other emissions

  • Moving urban cells – the future of transport as integrated systems rather than individual vehicles

As an exhibition of cars, alongside Japanese bonsai, art and design, Japan Car will display 14 unusual cars from the past decade and conceptual models, including the Nissan PIVO2 and Toyota i-REAL. When entering the exhibition, visitors will be greeted by an intriguing display of small model cars juxtaposed against live bonsai trees, the model cars taking the place of the natural stones which the Japanese often use to accompany bonsai trees. A specially commissioned painting by Akira Yamaguchi will conclude Japan Car. Yamaguchi's work uses traditional Japanese painting techniques to convey his vision of the future of mobility.

Andrew Nahum, the Science Museum's Principal Curator of Technology, said:

"Japan Car is a new look at Japanese car design by two innovative thinkers - the graphic designer Kenya Hara and the architect Shigeru Ban. The Science Museum is delighted to be working with these international figures to present the British public with an entirely new and original exhibition. The exhibition will allow many people to see for the first time unique cars that are special to Japan. These cars intrigue us and prompt us to ask whether this is a glimpse of the future of road transport."

Kenya Hara, exhibition curator, said:

"The Japan Car exhibition has been created to give a clear and comprehensive view of the characteristics and circumstances behind Japanese cars today. Although the history of cars in Japan began with an attempt to emulate the West's automotive technology and culture, the context of Japanese lifestyles and Japan's particular route to industrial development has given Japan's cars their own unique characteristics and individuality."

Shigeru Ban, exhibition designer, said:

"Cars are not the only industry that represents Japan, but the one which best reflects Japanese society. Today Japanese car design also deeply relates to global environmental issues."

Highlights of Japan Car include:

  • Toyota i-REAL – the car as a "mobile cell"

  • Daihatsu Tanto – the maximum use of space within a small package

  • Nissan Cube – design where speed is less important

  • Daihatsu Hijet Truck – a truck designed for compactness

  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV – 160km from an overnight recharge

Other cars on display will be Toyota iQ, Toyota Plug in HV, Toyota bB, Nissan PIVO2, Honda FCX Clarity, Honda insight, Daihatsu Copen, Suzuki Jimny and the Mazda Roadster.

Visitor information

Entry fees apply to Japan Car. Entrance to the Science Museum is free.

The Science Museum is open daily from 10am to 6pm. For more information call 0870 870 4868 or visit

Nearest tube: South Kensington

Source: Science Museum
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