Japan & the Netherlands

A Photography Exhibition displaying Japanese influences in Dutch public & private space, and vice versa

Japan is hot! Japanese food, clothes, products and influences are growing in the Netherlands. But just as Japan is interesting for the Dutch, the Netherlands is interesting for the Japanese. The theme park, Huis ten Bosch, is a modern reminder of the influence the Netherlands has in Japan. But even more current, is the growing interest for Dutch design in Japan.

Originally a competition, Inclusive Works asked the public, through photos, to show the multitude of Japanese influences in the Dutch public & private space and of Dutch influences in Japan. The purpose of the project is to take stock of the cultural and international relations between the peoples of the Netherlands and Japan; and how these relationships manifests itself in Dutch public areas and spaces. The photo inventory was compiled through individual photographs, which together provided an impression of more than 400 years international relations. 

We invited everyone in the Netherlands and Japan to participate in this international photography competition. All of the relevant photographs submitted for the competition can be seen in the online gallery at the end of this page.

The photos submitted

We received an unprecedented response of almost 300 photographs from both Japan and the Netherlands

The photographs displayed in the exhibition show various themes. Sport in the form of martial arts has had a clear influence throughout the world and no less so in the Netherlands. Some of the images how children enjoying and learning through this disciplined ancient art. Animation is another influence that has left a mark on both countries, the Dutch designed character of Nijntje (Miffy), is without doubt a much loved character in Japan. In one instance the love of food and Nijntje are incorporated together, where rice is sculpted into the child friendly rabbit, garnished with colourful vegetable and cheese stars. The iconic structure of the world-recognised Dutch windmill, takes precedence in Japan, displaying itself in this exhibition through animation, craft, and in the Netherlands with the Japanese Koinobori, or 'carp-streamer,' a traditional wind sock used to celebrate a traditional calendric event in Japan. Japanese cuisine, a loved influence in the Netherlands, is another theme in the exhibition: the Dutch - inspired ' herring' sushi, the 'Takoyaki' in the poffertjes pan are two examples. But Dutch cuisine has also had an impact in Japan; albeit a much smaller one. This is shown in the Dutch-inspired wafel made in Japan. The influence of cuisine, as displayed in the exhibition, reaches a more intimate and private space of people's lives.

The photography competition allowed us to create visual documentation of the wide variety of influences, that both countries have had on each other throughout history. The images in the exhibition and all of those submitted, form a solid testament of the impact one country has had on the other. 


Current and future exhibitions

The exhibition opening of Japan & the Netherlands: A Photography Exhibition, took place on Thursday 27 October 2016 in SieboldHuis, in Leiden. The event was attended by many of the competition participants. An award ceremony took place and the top three images were announced; in 3rd place was Joyce Aalsma, for her photograph "Tulips and Windmill" in Tokyo, Japan; 2nd place went to Thea Simons for "Our kitchen table" in Utrecht, the Netherlands; and 1st place was awarded to Tjepke Zijlstra for the photograph "Hajime, the art of action," Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The first prize was a TAMRON cameralens from the new SP series provided by the Dutch importer and distributor: Transcontinenta. The second prize received a voucher (worth 50 euro) from the American Book Centre and Japanese tea-set from t Japanse Winkeltje. The third prize receives a Sake-set from t Japanse Winkeltje and articles from the Japan Museum  SieboldHuis

The exhibition is now on display at the Hirado Dutch Trading Post in Hirado, Japan and will be displayed at the Dejima Museum, Nagasaki Japan from November 2017 onwards.

In addition to the photo competition, we asked the participants to send a motivational-video. Many of them did and the videos sent were of such high quality that Inclusive Works created a prize for the best video. The winner of this prize is Hans Spijker. Congratulations Hans!



To accompany the exhibition, Inclusive Works have issued a publication that contains a text in English and Dutch detailing the project, and images of the best twenty images submitted. This publication can be purchased directly from Inclusive Works for €5.00 (excluding postage). Please email [email protected] to purchase your copy today.


















Download the documents:

Poster Dutch

Poster English

Poster Japanese