Upon the severed heads of forty thousand foes, the Pax Tokugawa was founded.

The absence of wars, by erasing memories and horrors of past massacres, fostered the development of epic tales that gave rise to dark and terrifying atmospheres.

Come and explore the enigmatic realm of Yōkai, the ancient Japanese spirits

After the great success of the editions in Monza and Bologna, the exhibition Yōkai is also coming to Florence, in the stunning exhibition spaces of the Museo degli Innocenti, with a completely renewed display of hundreds of ancient and previously unseen works, along with two new exceptional curators.

Conceived and produced by Vertigo Syndrome and curated by Paola Scrolavezza, one of Italy’s foremost Japanologists and director of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Bologna, and Eddie Wertheim, director of the Japanese Gallery Kensington in London, the exhibition once again presents to the Italian public the fantastic world of monsters from Japanese tradition. It features over one hundred and fifty new, never-before-seen works from the 18th and 19th centuries, including ancient prints, rare books, masks, and weapons and armor on loan from the Stibbert Museum in Florence.

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Why visit the Yōkai exhibition

From June 13 to November 3 2024, step into the stunning exhibition spaces of the Museo degli Innocenti in Florence for a truly unique experience.

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What will you find at the Yōkai exhibition?

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More than 200 works

Among the prints on display, the extraordinary woodblock prints of Hokusai stand out, including some of his famous manga sketchbooks and ‘The Book of Chinese and Japanese Warriors,’ one of his most prized illustrated works, presented in its first edition, which is now exceedingly rare. Additionally, the exhibition highlights masterpieces from the three most important masters of the Utagawa school: Hiroshige, Kunisada, and Kuniyoshi.

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Original objects

Rare books, clothing, masks, ancient weapons and a huge original samurai armor. The exhibition also features an extraordinary collection of netsuke, small ivory sculptures.

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The ritual of the hundred candles

An immersive room that will make visitors experience the thrill of the macabre ritual of the hundred candles. Originating in the 17th century during the Tokugawa era, the ritual required samurai to assemble in a dark room lit solely by the glow of one hundred candles after sunset. During the ritual, each samurai would take turns telling a story to their comrades, attempting to frighten and test their courage, while one candle was extinguished after another…

A sold-out illustrator

The exhibition also features a series of striking illustrations by Marga “Blackbanshee” Biazzi, an acclaimed artist who has sold out at major Italian comic fairs and garnered collaboration requests from around the world. Each illustration will present a contemporary take on a story and monster, showcasing the unmistakable style that characterizes the work of the artist. All seven illustrations will be collected in a special edition box set available exclusively at the exhibition, and never to be sold again, making it a rare collector’s item.

A series of collateral events linked to the exhibition will enliven the opening months, featuring conferences, workshops, concerts, and guided tours.

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Is the Yōkai exhibition suitable for children?

The Yōkai Exhibition is perfect for children, who can enjoy a specially designed Yōkai-themed playroom, as well as a fun treasure hunt among the artworks and engaging workshops, adventures, and games that will introduce them to the mysterious world of Japanese monsters while having fun.

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Why bring school children to the exhibition?

Japanese monsters entered our television culture starting from the 1950s with , bringing with them exotic cultures, customs, and traditions. Series, films, and generations may change but Japanese monsters are always there to enchant the younger audience, in a schedule that has lasted for decades, bringing people together and becoming a topic for intergenerational dialogue. The exhibition is structured around a narrative path that aims to compare our educational approach to the storytelling of fairy tales and legends with the Japanese one.

The exhibition visit

The exhibition visit can become an opportunity to analyze the narrative purpose; study the types of screenplays and their structures from ancient Greek to modern Japanese and provide a foundation for collaborative work starting from the monsters that students currently see on TV, comparing them to those of the teacher’s generation and tracing their cultural origins.

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The Yōkai Exhibition – Monsters, Spirits, and Other Hauntings is hosted at the magnificent Museo degli Innocenti, located in the historic Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, 13.

The museum is part of the monumental complex designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and serves as the headquarters for the Istituto degli Innocenti, of which the museum is a part.

Originally established to display the artworks of the ancient Spedale, a major center for child care, the museum has been transformed into a journey that reveals a unique cultural heritage. This heritage is deeply connected to the activities carried out in support of children who could not be raised by their families of origin.

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