Flora Japonica at Kew Gardens

12 September 2016. The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.

Release date: 11 January 2019

Step into the beauty of the Japanese landscape this autumn and watch its incredible native flora come alive, while you weave your way through Flora Japonica, a stunning new exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Astoundingly intricate botanical paintings contributed by 35 of Japan’s best contemporary artists will fill The Shirley Sherwood Gallery, showcasing the natural beauty of plants such as camellias, cherry trees and the Japanese maple. These stunning watercolours have been painted from specimens collected all over Japan, as well as a couple of works which have been painted from specimens collected within Kew Gardens, such as Junko Iwata’s depiction of the majestic Japanese snowbell. Also on display will be works never before seen outside Japan, including historic drawings and paintings by some of Japan’s most revered botanists and artists, such as Dr Tomitaro Makino (1863 – 1957), Sessai Hattori and Chikusai Kato (Edo period artists).

Highlighting Kew’s very own Japanese collections, beautiful artefacts from the Economic Botany Collection – a collection showing the extent of human uses of plants around the world – will be on display. Traditional Japanese lacquerware collected especially for Kew’s Economic Botany Museum in the 1880s, as well as ten decorative wooden panels dating from 1874, one of only three known collections of its kind in the world, will sit alongside key botanical illustrations and publications from Kew’s extensive Library, Art and Archives collections. This includes a monumental illustrated manual of medicinal plants from the 17th century. Further works by Japanese artists from The Shirley Sherwood Collection will add to this incredible insight into the beauty of Japan’s native flora and unique arts and crafts. 

After Flora Japonica comes to an end in March 2017 it will move to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo (12 September to 3 December 2017), and Tokyo University Museum. Kew Gardens is also delighted to announce that The Japanese Embassy in London will hold a small satellite display of Flora Japonica this autumn (24 October to 30 November 2016) highlighting the lasting relationship between Kew Gardens and Japan.

Don’t miss your chance to explore the breathtaking natural beauty of Japan within the tranquility of Kew, as you delve into the history of this remarkable country and its longstanding relationship with Kew Gardens.

Flora Japonica is supported by the JEC Fund, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation, in partnership with The Japanese Embassy in London.

Accompanying book Flora Japonica by Martyn Rix and Masumi Yamanaka

To accompany the exhibition, Kew Gardens is publishing Flora Japonica, a beautiful celebration of modern Japanese botanical art, featuring 80 specially commissioned botanical paintings of Japanese wild plants, contributed by 30 of the country’s best contemporary artists. Each painting is accompanied by text about the plant, including its natural history as well as botanical description and details of the specimen origin. Biographies of all 30 artists are included.


For images and more information please contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email pr@kew.org

Notes to editors

The Japanese Embassy in London will hold a small satellite display of Flora Japonica from 24 October to 30 November 2016. The opening reception will be held on 2 November 2016, with Tony Kirkham (Head of Arboretum, Gardens and Horticulture at Kew Gardens) giving a lecture titled ‘Plant Hunters who visited Japan in the Edo and Meiji period’.

The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture has organised a series of Toshiba Lectures;

9 November at 7pm – Botany and Scientific Illustration by Masumi Yamanaka and Nicholas Hind at Kew Gardens
11 November at 2.30pm – The Japanese Collection at Kew by Masumi Yamanaka and Mark Nesbitt at The British Museum
17 November at 6pm – Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka at Norwich Cathedral

More information can be found here www.sainsbury-institute.org

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.  Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst, attract over 1.5 million visits every year.  Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009.  Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately just under half of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

To request further information on the accompanying book, Flora Japonica, please contact Katie Read katie@readmedia.co.uk  - 07837 485642

Title: Flora Japonica

Authors: Masumi Yamanaka and Martyn Rix

Imprint: Kew Publishing, September 2016

Price: Paperback £25

Page extent: 240 page, 80 full colour botanical paintings, 15 b/w line drawings

ISBN: 978 1 84246 612 4

Rights: © The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Masumi Yamanaka is an award winning botanical artist currently based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and co-author of Treasured Trees (Kew Publishing, 2015).

Martyn Rix is a renowned horticulturalist, and author of many books including The Golden Age of Botanical Art (Andre Deutsch) and co-author of Treasured Trees (Kew Publishing, 2015), and editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, published by Kew.