May 15, 2018 (Detroit)—On June 12, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the Japanese Business Society of Detroit (JBSD) present a celebration of Japanese art focusing on how arts and culture have advanced, and continue to advance, relationships between the United States and Japan.

The day includes a symposium, artist demonstrations and a display of a Japanese Friendship Doll, Miss Fukiko Akita, given to the Detroit Children’s Museum in 1927, along with a new male Friendship Doll crafted by Japanese doll maker Master Fujimura. All events are free with museum admission, which is free for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents.

“Our strong relationship with the Japanese community continues with this very special day,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “Thousands of visitors enjoyed and learned about important Japanese cultural traditions during activities related to the opening of our new Japanese art gallery last year, and we are excited to present this thought-provoking symposium featuring Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko.”

The symposium is from 10 a.m. to noon and features a panel discussion with Takashi Omitsu, executive advisor to IMRA America Inc. and the JBSD; Katherine Kasdorf, DIA curator of the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World; Alison Jean, DIA interpretive specialist; Natsu Oyobe, curator of Asian art at University of Michigan Museum of Art; and William Colburn, executive director of Wayne State University’s historic Charles Lang Freer House.

Following the panel discussion, Her Imperial Highness Princess Akiko of Mikasa, a scholar of Japanese art who holds a doctorate from University of Oxford, will give a talk on how arts and culture have historically fostered, and continue to foster, relationships between the U.S. and Japan. Princess Akiko is not on an official state visit; she is in the U. S. conducting research on the role art can play in strengthening ties between countries.

“The Japanese community in metro Detroit is so honored to have Princess Akiko in the symposium at the DIA,” said Omitsu. “I am very excited to hear about her extensive research into how art can facilitate strong ties between the U.S. and Japan.”

From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the museum’s Great Hall, two Japanese master artists will demonstrate their crafts: Master Fujimura will demonstrate the art of doll-making, an important cultural tradition in Japan; and Master Kawakami will show how Japanese cloth known as tenugui is created. The two Friendship Dolls will be on display, as well.

About Friendship Dolls

Friendship Dolls were created in 1927 by the Japanese Committee for World Friendship Among Children in response to 12,739 "blue-eyed dolls" sent by American children to Japan. To reciprocate, master Japanese artists created extremely detailed dolls with accessories appropriate to each doll and her home prefecture, showing the culture of a Japanese child of the time. Fifty-eight Japanese dolls were made, representing Japan's 47 prefectures, four territories, six major cities and one "national" doll.

Detroit Children’s Museum received one of the dolls, Miss Fukiko Akita, who represents a young Japanese girl with a traditional hairstyle made of human hair. Her realistic face, hands and feet are coated with a mixture of pulverized oyster shell and glue polished to a high sheen. Her kimono is hand-printed, hand-painted and hand-embroidered. Miss Akita came with accessories such as a passport, boarding ticket from the ship that brought her, a letter from Japanese children and a lacquered tea service.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.