The Japanese Side of Amsterdam

Last week I made a trip to Amsterdam and discovered the little Japanese things hidden behind Dutch paintings and coffee shops.

Van Gogh, for example, was inspired by the composition, use of colors and perspective of ukiyoe. First, he explicitly introduced Japanese elements in his paintings. At that time, European artists were very fond of Japanese prints. The Van Gogh brothers started a collection of ukiyoe.

He copied the courtesan (oiran) of a cover illustration, but changed the background.


Funny is that he copied the characters as well.


Japanese influences are still visible in his later work. An interesting read about the link between Van Gogh and Japan you can find on Sequins and Cherry Blossoms.

At the Rijksmuseum, I found some Japanese inspired works as well. There was a section about historical Japan-Dutch relations, and an Asian pavilion.


Girl in white kimono, George Hendrik Breitner, 1894

A maquette of Deshima, the island on which only the Dutch were permitted to stay during the Edo period. A bridge connected this trading post with Nagasaki.

DSC04985A part of a cannon captured at the Battle of Shimonoseki (1863).


Cornelius Tromp had an impressive collection of weapons. The lances were made on Tanegashima island.


A temple guard from the 14th century.


The shrimp on the kimono is a pun on the name of the wearer, actor Ichikawa Ebizo. (ebi = shrimp)


DSC05025Frightening bunny ears.


Enough museums for today. Last stop is Melkweg, a cultural center that organizes a Japanese cinema festival from 1 to 6 October in Amsterdam. The program can be found here.



One thought on “The Japanese Side of Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: 150 Years of Japan-Belgium Relations | nippaku

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