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 at the Villa Reale in Monza, the Yōkai. The ancient prints of Japanese monster exhibition comes to Bologna, in the sumptuous 15th-century rooms of Palazzo Pallavicini, from April 7 to July 23, 2023.

Designed and produced by Vertigo Syndrome and curated by Paul Linetti,leading expert in Japanese art and curator of significant private collections, the exhibition presents to the Western audience the fascinating world of monsters from the Japanese tradition through over two hundred works from the 18th and 19th centuries, including antique prints, rare books, clothing, weapons, and samurai armor. The exhibition also features the extraordinary Bertocchi collection of netsuke, small ivory sculptures once used as clasps.

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Why visit the Yōkai exhibition

From April 7th to July 23rd, step into the luxurious 15th-century halls of Palazzo Pallavicini in Bologna for a truly unique experience. Admire works of art and traditional objects that bring to life the evocative power of these legendary creatures.

From mischievous Kappa to formidable Tengu, and from seductive Kitsune to Oni, as tall as mountains, delve into their stories, significance in popular culture, and the captivating characteristics that make them so intriguing. A fantastic opportunity to unexpectedly and surprisingly immerse yourself in Japanese culture!


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.

15_Netsuke con due artigiani intenti a creare una maschera da Tengu_seconda metà XIX secolo

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.


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.


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.

Schools and groups

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.

Palazzo Pallavicini - Bologna

The exhibition Yōkai – The Ancient Prints of Japanese Monsters is hosted at the magnificent Palazzo Pallavicini in Bologna, at 24 Via San Felice. Situated at the heart of the city, the magnificent 15th-century palace served as a hub of European culture during the Enlightenment.