Last weekend, after consuming a wonderful selection of beer at Bell’s Brewery‘s Eccentric Cafe, we wandered over to the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, mostly to check out the Jump to Japan. It’s obviously for kids, but it was still fun. I mean, they have a more-or-less life-sized Catbus (which I happily posed in, as you can see) which was basically the major reason I wanted to go.
It does cover the history of art and culture in Japan in a fun and hands-on way — you can create your own animated sequences, draw (well, trace from templates) manga characters and also learn about older forms of art, like the process behind Japanese woodblock prints and the history of a couple of culture holidays.
The exhibit is designed well and the connections between the past and the present are clearly made. The whole thing is probably more interesting if you’re 7 years old, but I did love seeing the comparisons between still shots from My Neighbor Totoro and photos from Japan.
The exhibit is a traveling one (it’s been around for a couple of years now) and is up at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum through Sept. 7. The website doesn’t list where it’s going next, but I hope it finds another home because I’d love for more kids to get to see it.