THE Ashmolean Museum’s new show Tokyo: Art & Photography – which launched this week – is a celebration of one of the world’s most creative, dynamic, and fascinating cities.

It is an exploration of Japan’s capital city through the vibrant arts it has generated over 400 years and the first exhibition in Britain to feature both historic and contemporary art about Tokyo.

Perhaps more than any other city in the world, Tokyo has needed to constantly rebuild and reinvent itself necessitated by the devastating impact of natural disasters and man-made catastrophes.

The exhibition highlights the artists and audiences who have long responded to the changing urban landscape and reflected the personal experiences of living in a place under intense regeneration and development.

Oxford Mail: Tokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean MuseumTokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum

It tells the stories of a resilient population who, against a backdrop of destruction and renewal, have made Tokyo so famous with their insatiable appetite for the new and innovative.

With over 37million residents today, the Tokyo metropolitan area is unrivalled for its size and population, but the city has its roots in small fishing village where the Edo warrior clan constructed a fortified residence in the 12th century.

For a long time, it was little more than a remote garrison town compared to the refinement of the imperial headquarters of Kyoto. But in 1603, Edo became the de facto capital of Japan.

Within decades the brash new town had transformed into a thriving metropolis – not only a political and commercial centre, but a city with its own distinctive culture, fostered by samurai patrons and ordinary townspeople.

Oxford Mail: Tokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean MuseumTokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum

It has remained a centre of artistic innovation ever since – and, in the late 19th century, was renamed as the city we now know to be Tokyo.

Tokyo: Art & Photography will span the last four centuries from scrolls and screens to interdisciplinary avant-garde art collectives and many of the works have never been shown in this country before.

It features the iconic woodblock prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige through to the contemporary photography of Ninagawa Mika and Moriyama Daido and includes works on loan from Japan, new commissions, as well as treasures from the Ashmolean’s own collections.

Oxford Mail: Tokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean MuseumTokyo exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum

The exhibition is co-curated by the Ashmolean’s Dr Lena Fritsch (Modern and Contemporary Art) and Dr Clare Pollard (Japanese Art) who have both lived, studied and worked in Tokyo. Lena and Clare have also co-authored a publication to accompany the exhibition available now from the Ashmolean museum and online shop.

Dr Xa Sturgis, director of the Ashmolean, said: “With its tumultuous history and rich and diverse artistic output, Tokyo is one of the most exciting cultural hotspots in the world. In showcasing this exceptional range of artworks from the 17th century right up to present day installations, along with precious works on loan from Japan, this exhibition promises to be a thrilling insight into Tokyo, one of the most extraordinary cities in the world.”

The exhibition is made possible thanks to The Shikanai Foundation, The Ishibashi Foundation and The Tokyo Exhibition Circle

l Tokyo: Art & Photography runs through to 3 Jan. Booking is essential at