After 250 years of Locked Country foreign relation policy enacted by Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan began to face the military threats imposed by Western powers in the mid-19th century. As a result, many people demanded Tokugawa to step down and return power to the Emperor while some others urged Tokugawa to remain in power. The divided opinions resulted in many confrontations across Japan. Civil war was soon to erupt. Finally, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Shogun in Japan’s history, decided to return power to the Emperor in order to unite Japan competing against the Western powers. Then, Japan took many modernization initiatives in Meiji Restoration Period.
Many changes took place in Meiji Restoration Period, highlighted by the conflicts between new and old cultures. Japanese applied their technical know-how to arts and had thus improved their art technologies to an unprecedented level. 126 pieces of metalworking, sculptures, lacquers, metals, ceramics and woven velvets exhibited here were produced between late Edo and early Showa Periods. Some artworks were produced by Japan’s royal artists noted for their superb art technologies and fantastic coloring skills. These artworks demonstrate how the artists turned “crafts” into “arts”, revealing the beauty of art in Meiji Period.