Relations between Germany and Japan: 150 Years of Friendship between Germany and Japan
Period Tuesday,July 7 –Sunday, September 6, 2015
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries A&B, National Museum of Japanese History

Adults: ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent exhibitions included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday

Hours 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (entrance closed at 4:30 p.m.)
* Open hours and days are subject to change.
Closed Mondays (When Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is closed the following Tuesday.)
* The Museum is NOT closed on Monday, August 10.
Organizer National Museum of Japanese History of the National Institutes for the Humanities of Inter-University Research Institute Corporation,
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, City of Naruto (Naruto German House), Yokohama Archives of History
Special Partner Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo
Supporter Federal Foreign Office of Germany, FY2015 Project to Support Creative Activities at Art Museums and History Museums with the Local Community (Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan)
Joint Organizer Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Japan
Sponsor Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Japanisch-Deutschen Gesellschaft, Verband Deutsch-Japanischer Gesellschaften



Exhibition Highlight

  • This will be the first exhibition held in Japan to throw light on 150 years of exchanges between Germany and Japan.
  • The exhibition will present original diplomatic documents, including Shogun Iemochi Tokugawa’s letter of credence for the Takeuchi Mission and the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan!
  • The exhibition will also shed light on the delegation that came from Germany to Japan at the end of the Edo period in the mid-19th century!
  • You can see a strong tie between Japan and Germany in the Meiji period from the late 19th to the early 20th century.
  • You can also find out what relations existed between Japan and Germany throughout the two world wars.
A portrait of Count Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg (Personal collection) The Gate of Edo Castle from “Prussian East Asian Expedition: Sceneries of Japan, China, and Siam” by Albert Berg (Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo)

Concept of the Exhibition

Japan and Germany have a more than 150 years’ history of relationships, and the Japanese and German find themselves sharing common values of diligence and discipline. Many Japanese recognize Germany as a leading player in the EU. Germany is also known for its vehicles, cameras, soccer, and beer. Moreover, the country has recently drawn more attention from Japan for the issues of recycling, environmental protection, atomic energy, and the like. Nevertheless, there have been few opportunities to learn details of the history of exchanges between Japan and Germany. Against this backdrop, the National Museum of Japanese History will organize the first comprehensive exhibition in Japan to present the history of diplomatic and cultural relations between Japan and Germany.

Since the end of the Second World War, Japan and Germany have followed a similar path; they were both occupied by the Allied Powers and subsequently achieved high economic growth. Although Germany was divided into East and West during the Cold War, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan continued to share basic values and a commitment to democracy and free market capitalism. Eventually Germany was united, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Still, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan have many things in common in their roles as global leaders. At the same time, there are many differences between them due to their different historic experiences.

Thus, Japan and Germany have many values in common, while they have developed differences over the last 70 years. We would be pleased if this exhibition could provide visitors with an opportunity to examine the history of exchanges between the two countries and think about how their relationships will develop in the future.

Outline of the Exhibition

I Relationships between Japan and Prussia or the German Empire during the Restoration Period at the End of the Edo Period in the Late 19th Century

Count zu Eulenburg
Count zu Eulenburg was a Prussian diplomat. Led by him, a Prussian mission arrived in Japan in 1861 to promote trade with Southeast and East Asia. He played an instrumental role in concluding the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Japan. After leaving Japan, he also concluded a similar treaty with the Qing Dynasty.

1) The Dawn of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Germany
     A) The Eulenburg Mission and the conclusion of the treaty
     B) Visual documents depicting Japan and Prussian people

A Prussian Mission visited Japan at the End of the Edo period!

A Portrait of a Prussian Tradesman and His Female Companion Strolling in Yokohama by Sadahide Utagawa (Personal collection)
The above is a portrait of a Prussian male and female couple painted by Sadahide Utagawa, a famous painter who painted streetscapes and foreigners in Yokohama

When diplomatic relations were first established between Japan and Germany, the latter was not a united country. In Central Europe, there were many independent German-speaking kingdoms. Among them, the Kingdom of Prussia was one of the most influential countries. It dispatched a mission to East Asia in 1860, and signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the Tokugawa Government of Japan on January 24, 1861.
This was the start of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. This exhibition will present precious historical material to illustrate the dawn of their relationships, including the first diplomatic documents exchanged between the two countries and gifts from the Prussian King to the Japanese Shogun Iemochi, along with material borrowed from Germany.

Moreover, the exhibition will introduce pictures of Japan painted by members of the Prussian Mission and of Prussia painted by Japanese artists at that time. You can see that the townscapes of Edo (the present Tokyo) and Nagasaki painted by artists who took part in the Prussian Mission and the portraits of Prussian people painted by Japanese ukiyo-e painters in the mid-19th century strongly reflect the views of both Japanese and Germans at that time.


2) Diplomatic Mediators: Philipp Franz von Siebold and His Sons
     A) Philipp Franz von Siebold’s diplomacy with Japan at the end of the Edo period
     B) The Meiji Government’s diplomacy and Alexander von Siebold

Philipp Franz von Siebold and His Sons
Siebold was a famous doctor who served at the Dutch Factory in Dejima, Nagasaki, but it is not widely known that he was German. After the Siebold Incident, he was deported from Japan but later in the Edo period he returned to Japan, serving for the Tokugawa Shogunate as an adviser of foreign affairs for a short period of time. His eldest son, Alexander, also served for the Meiji Government as a foreign specialist of diplomacy. The second son, Heinrich, was an interpreter for the Legation of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in Japan. He is also known as a collector of material about Japan.

3) The Takeuchi Mission to Europe in 1862
     A) Negotiations to postpone the opening of cities and harbors to the world
       B) Cartoons of the mission

Germany seen by the Takeuchi Mission to Europe in the late 19th century

A cartoon of Japanese in Berlin (National Museum of Japanese History)
Kladderadatsch, a German satirical magazine, published many interesting cartoons illustrating the relationships between Japan and Germany at the time of publication. An example is a caricature published on August 3, 1862 (see the above). This is considered to depict the Takeuchi Mission dispatched to Europe by the Tokugawa Shogunate in the same year. The caption says “(Germans and Japanese are) admiring each other in the Gendarmenmarkt (at the center of Berlin), to the tune of a German folk song ‘We Are Wonderful People!’”

In 1862, the Tokugawa Shogunate dispatched a mission to Europe with Yasunori Takeuchi, Commissioner of Foreign Affairs, as its leader. The objective of the mission was to get approval from each European country for postponing the opening of cities and harbors to foreign trade, including Ōsaka, Hyōgo, and Edo (the present Tokyo), despite provisions in the Ansei Five-Power Treaties and other international agreements. The Takeuchi Mission visited France, Britain, the Netherlands, Prussia, Russia, and Portugal in that order. In Prussia, the Mission participated in many diplomatic ceremonies, including a courtesy call on Emperor Wilhelm I at his palace in Berlin. The Mission also visited the University of Berlin and a machine-making factory. Their experiences were recorded and transcribed.

II Meiji Japan and Germany

1) The Meiji Restoration and Von Brandt
       A) Establishment of the North German Confederation and Boshin War
       B) Establishment of the German Empire and maneuvering of Brandt
        C) Life in the foreign settlement and activities of German trading companies

Take a look behind the scenes of the Meiji Restoration and Brandt, a Prussian consul!

Thirty-three Years in East Asia: Reminiscence of a German Diplomat by Maximilian von Brandt (National Museum of Japanese History)
Participating in the Eulenburg Mission, Brant arrived in Japan for the first time in 1860. Later, he was stationed in Japan as the first consul of Prussia (subsequently transformed into the North German Confederation and then into the German Empire) from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period. Later, he also served as the consul of the German Empire in China under the Qing Dynasty from 1875 to 1893.

Von Brandt was the first Prussian diplomat stationed in Japan. He once came to Japan as a member of the Prussian Mission at the end of the Edo period. He came to Yokohama again as the first resident consul at the end of 1862 after the enforcement of the Japan-Prussia Treaty. In 1868, when Boshin War broke out, resident consular representatives of Western powers declared their neutrality in the war. Brandt, however, allowed Prussian people to come to Niigata Port, one of the ports opened by the treaty and occupied and managed by the Northern Alliance fighting against the new Japanese government. Thus, Brandt took action in favor of the alliance, whilst Parks, a British minister resident in Japan, supported the new government.


2) What Japan Learned from Germany
        A) Beginning of German education in Japan: studies of Germany from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period
        B) The Iwakura Mission
        C) From Japan to Germany: Japanese studying in Germany
        D) From Germany to Japan: foreign specialists
        E) Great efforts by diplomats

Modern Japan was modeled on Germany.

Shōjiro Kido’s application for study abroad, dated on March 15, 1880 (National Museum of Japanese History)
Shōjiro Kido (1861-84) was a nephew of Takayoshi Kido, a leading figure in the Meiji Restoration, and was adopted as his heir. Shōjiro applied to the government for study in Germany for five years. At first he studied at the University of Berlin from 1881 to 1882, majoring in law. Subsequently he entered a military academy to become an army officer.

Japan embraced Western cultures, at first through Dutch studies during the Edo period and then through English (British and American) studies and French studies at the end of the Edo period. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan found Germany, a then-emerging country, to be the best role model it should follow to emerge from low development status.

Medical and other advanced sciences, as well as military and political systems, were actively introduced into Japan from Germany by sending Japanese people to study in Germany and inviting German experts to teach in Japan.

Japanese imperial universities also adopted a German system of education rather than a British, American, or French system.


3) Japonism in Germany

     A) Art and theater

Japonism in Germany

Japonism reached Germany at the end of the 19th century after enjoying popularity in Britain and France. The Japan Exhibition was held first in Berlin and then in Munich in the summer in 1885, attracting many visitors. The exhibition was painted in watercolor by the painter Adolph Menzel (1815-1905). Meanwhile, in the theatrical world, the Mikado, a British operetta, was performed in English in Munich in 1886 and re-performed in German in 1889, both enjoying an excellent reputation. Through these opportunities, Japanese art, theater, and culture penetrated into Germany, and the aesthetic of Japonism was embraced by many Germans.

Fliegende Blatter No. 89 (National Museum of Japanese History)
Fliegende Blatter was a famous German magazine of humorous social satire published in Munich for a century from 1844 to 1944. It often featured the daily life of German citizens rather than political issues. The magazine contained only a few articles and cartoons about Japan. One of the rare examples is held by the National Museum of Japanese History (see the above). It included a comprehensive illustration of “Japan in Deutschland” depicting people enjoying Japonism
The Mikado or Three Challenges: A Five-act Japanese Folk Tale (Personal collection)
These paper miniatures of characters from the Mikado, a famous operetta, were made by the Ernst Siewert. They were designed to be cut out and played in a paper theater.

     B) Activities of Dokuwa-kai (German-Japanese Society) and Kisaku Tamai
     C) Japanese studies in Germany

III Relationships between Japan and Germany throughout the Two World Wars

1) Conflicts over China and World War I
     A) Triple Intervention of 1895
     B) Japanese-German War (World War I) and German prisoners of war in Japan

Take a look back at the turbulent early 20th century through relationships between Japan and Germany.

Japan fought against Germany in World War I, bringing German prisoners of war from Qingdao and other cities in China to Japan. Many historical records on this matter have been preserved in Japan, including those held by the National Museum of Japanese History. Some of them will be presented in this exhibition to take a look back at the relationships between Japan and Germany throughout the Taishō period (1912-26). This exhibition will also shed a new light on the process of development of their political ties from the end of the Taishō period to the beginning of the Shōwa period from the viewpoint of international politics centered on their respective relations with China. A rare video of the Japanese Art Exhibition held in Berlin under the Nazi regime can provide some ideas about cultural exchanges between the two countries and the mood of the times.

A poster of the Bandō Prisoner-of-war Camp Fair in March 1918 (National Museum of Japanese History)
This is a poster of the Bandō Prisoner-of-war Camp Fair held at Ryōzen-ji Temple (the first temple of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage) and a public hall near the camp from March 8 to March 17, 1918. It was designed by a prisoner and printed by a local printer. The fair attracted so many visitors that it was extended for two more days until March 19.
A postcard of the Bandō Prisoner-of-war Camp Fair depicting visitors enjoying exhibits (National Museum of Japanese History)
This was one of the six pieces of postcards made and sold in a set by a photo studio in Tokushima city. It illustrates how crowded the fair was.


2) Exchanges between Japan and Germany during the Weimar Republic Period: from the Taishō to the Shōwa Period
     A) Wilhelm Solf, a diplomat, and assistance to Germany in academic promotion
     B) Japanese people studying in the Weimar Republic

3) Nazism, Militarism, and World War II
     A) Attitudes of Japan and Germany toward China: the Manchurian Incident and the League of Nations
     B) The rise of the Nazism and the increasingly close relationship between Japan and Germany
     C) Cultural exchanges between Japan and Germany during the Nazism
     D) Chiune Sugihara “A Man of Justice of the Peoples of the World”
     E) Defeat of Japan and Germany in World War II

IV Japan and Germany after World War II

1) Postwar Recovery of Japan and Germany: Reconstruction of Their Provincial Cities
     A) Reconstruction of Wurzburg in Bavaria
     B) Reconstruction of Nagasaki

2) Restarting as a Democratic Nation
     A) Re-establishment of diplomatic relations
     B) Introduction of German culture

3) Development of Interregional Exchanges

Recovery from the ashes of war

Former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida’s Visit to Bonn in October 1954 (German Historical Museum/Pressebild-Verlag Schirner/DHM)

This exhibition will present Wurzburg and Nagasaki, which have established sister city relations with each other, as examples to trace the process of how Japan and West Germany restarted as a democratic nation and recovered from the ashes of war. You can also see how the two countries have deepened their ties through the records of talks between leading figures to re-establish their diplomatic relations and the activities of local governments and various cultural organizations.

Moreover, this exhibition will explore the German culture introduced to Japan after the Second World War through the journal of Tatsuji Iwabuchi, a famous researcher on Bertolt Brecht, during his study in Germany.


1) Three Monuments in Miyakojima Island

2) Cultural Exchanges between Sister Cities

Miyakojima: an island of friendship between Japan and Germany

Part of a rubbed copy of the monument of philanthropy erected by the German Emperor (Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo)
Now that years have passed since it was erected, the monument is too weathered to read. This exhibition, however, will display a rubbed copy made by the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo to remind visitors of the history of friendship between Japan and Germany.

In July 1873, a German trading ship, Robertson, went aground on the coast of Miyakojima Island, and its crew members were saved and cared for by local residents. In deep gratitude, the German Emperor Wilhelm I erected a monument on the island in 1876. Since then, the island has been treated as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

Exhibition Lineup

* Please note that some exhibits will be replaced during the exhibition.

  • A portrait of Count zu Eulenburg (Personal collection)
  • Ratification Instruments of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and Prussia (Prussian Privy State Archives)
  • Gifts for Iemochi Tokugawa: porcelain made by the Prussian Royal Porcelain Manufactory and a framed landscape (Tokugawa Memorial Foundation)
  • A letter from the Hanseatic League to the Japanese Emperor (Hamburg State Archives)
  • A narrative picture scroll of Moon King and Princess Otohime (Berlin State Library)
  • Records of Siebold (Personal collection)
  • Iemochi Tokugawa’s letter of credence for the Takeuchi Mission (Prussian Privy State Archives)
  • Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation between Japan and the North German Confederation (Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)
  • German Dictionary and Grammar published by the Foreign Books Research Institute of the Tokugawa Shogunate (Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library)
  • A color-printed article on the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution (National Museum of Japanese History)
  • Records of the Aoki family including a portrait of Shūzō Aoki (Personal collection)
  • Records of Koeberlein, a German prisoner of World War I in Japan (National Museum of Japanese History)
  • Photo albums and other records of the Bandō Prisoner-of-war Camp (Naruto German House) *Panels
  • Japanese translation of My Struggle (National Museum of Japanese History)
  • The Memorial Art Book of the Japanese Antique Exhibition (Personal collection)
  • A rubbed copy of the monument of philanthropy erected by the German Emperor (Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo)

* Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.

Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.