Inside “Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art”

1 minute read

See the role of animals in Japanese culture and their representations. This new exhibition showcases more than 200 art pieces from the fifth century to the present.

Here is a look at “Every Living Thing: Animals in Japanese Art”

  • Animals in Japanese culture

Representation of animals – real or imaginary- is abundant in Japanese culture. Presents in the different aspect of life, they are portrayed as divine, dangerous, powerful or supernatural. Six thematics explore the influence of every living thing in Japanese life:

  • The Japanese Zodiac
  • World of the Samurai
  • Myth and folklore
  • Religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto, and Zen)
  • Foreign and exotics animals
  • The natural world
Pair of sacred foxes. Late Kamakura period, 14th century


Haniwa horse. Kofun period, 6th century.

Did you know? According to the Japanese zodiac, 2019 is the year of the board. To celebrate it, art objects representing this animal are displayed in homes and temples.


Artworks presented include painting, prints, sculpture, kimono and much more. In Japanese art, in opposition to Western art, animals are often the central subject.



  • Highlights


The representation of tigers was interesting as this animal is not native from Japan. Locals were inspired by domestic cats and, they also relied on foreign artists.

Tiger family and magpies, Edo period, 1807

Did you know? Leopard was misinterpreted as a female tiger.


By 1600, Portuguese sailors traded and gifted foreign and exotics animals like elephants and camels.

Boy’s ceremonial kimono (Iwaigi) with tigers and bamboo. Meiji period, late 19th to early 20th century.


ivory dancing fox. Edo period, 18e century


Fox is one of many animals appearing in Japanese tales. They believe that fox could find a marriage partner, transform into people, and light a fire.



Did you know? Fox could also make rain hence the expression “a fox’s wedding” referring to a light rain when the sun is shining.





Plan your visit

  • Exhibit on view from September 22nd to December 8th, 2019
  • Location: LACMA (Resnick Pavilion), 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles,90036
  • Hours: 11am-5pm Monday-Thursday, 11am-8pm Friday, 10am-7pm Saturday-Sunday. Closed on Wednesday.
  • Admission: $25
  • Duration: I spent 1 hour to discover it.
  • Parking on site $16 ($8 after 7pm) or street parking
  • More information available at


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