WOW: City Lights & Woodland Shade at Japan House

A is for All Ages: But kids in particular will bloody love this. The real beauty of this exhibition’s interactive elements is they’re all incredibly easy to use whilst yielding really satisfying results. Point your face at a computer screen for six seconds whilst jabbing at a big green button and you’ll be rewarded with a doll wearing the very same ridiculous expression. Spend half a minute hacking away at a hunk of digital wood as it spins on an imagined lathe and then see your magical creation take pride of place in an enormous CGI sculpture gallery. Or stack magnetic tree segments in random piles and watch an army of talismanic cyber birds settle on top of them. It’s all super impressive, even with fairly minimal input.

B is for Be There: Because you’ll feel like you are, which is just as well since – let’s face it – an immersive art exhibition at Japan House is likely the closest most of us will get to actually visiting Japan. Every part of the show is designed to make you feel as though you’ve been whisked away on an impromptu trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, whether you’re experiencing sensory overload in the beating heart of Tokyo courtesy of WOW’s fast-moving City Lights film – complete with a 360-degree wraparound screen – or exploring Japan’s rural traditions in the brilliantly interactive Woodland Shade room.

C is for Carvings: It’s really easy to overlook the exhibition’s emphasis on folk art with so much amazing digital stuff going on, but it’s this seamless marriage of the traditional and the cutting-edge art that makes it so unique. Hand-carved kokeshi dolls come alive via captivating digital projections; folk emblems become the protagonists of hi-tech installations; and digital displays are interspersed with arrangements of traditional hand-carved figures, with copies of the latter available to buy in the shop upstairs.

Tickets: Entry is free.

Verdict: It might be small but this is one of the most perfect exhibitions we’ve been to in a while, and we go to a lot of exhibitions. 5/5

Until 22nd March 2020

Mummy and Ro-Ro play with the POPPO Woods interactive display at WOW: City Lights & Woodland Shade at Japan House.