Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics
Spring Exhibition

MARCH 6—JUNE 14, 2020

PLEASE NOTE: To ensure the safety of all in our community, this exhibition and Japan Society building have been temporarily closed to the public. Please visit our COVID-19 page for information on ticket refunds and donations, and stay connected with us on social media to learn more about our virtual program initiatives.

Boro (“rags” or “tatters”) are patchwork textiles hand-pieced by peasants in Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The inability to cultivate cotton in the northern climate of Tohoku necessitated the practice of stitching remnants of used fabric into utilitarian items, including blankets, coats and mittens. These hard-used garments – reworked over generations – express essential principles of Japanese ethics and aesthetics, such as an appreciation for distinguished imperfections and the avoidance of waste.

For the first time in the U.S., this exhibition assembles over 50 archival pieces from the personal collection of folklorist and cultural anthropologist Chuzaburo Tanaka (1933–2013) presented alongside new portraits by editor-photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, designs by pioneers of Japanese avant-garde fashion Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and textile-based works by Susan Cianciolo and Christina Kim – part of a generation of contemporary artists influenced by the aesthetics and ethics of mending, patchwork, and re-use. The installation, designed by New York architecture firm SO–IL, rediscovers this traditional handicraft, its history of survival and ingenuity, and its continued legacy within creative practices today.

Admission: $12/$10 students and seniors; free for Japan Society members. Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Welcome Desk or online in advance.

Docent tours are provided free with admission on Friday & Saturday at 2:30 PM (English) and Friday at 6 PM (Japanese).

Exhibition-Related Programming

Exhibition Preview

Selected Works


Teppei Kaneuji "White Discharge (Built-up Objects #36)


A new, year-long installation by artist Teppei Kaneuji will debut in our building’s lobby garden with the opening of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

Visitor Information

Gallery Hours:
Note: The Gallery is temporarily closed.

Tuesday—Thursday, 12—7 PM
Friday, 12—9 PM
Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM—5 PM
Closed Mondays and on major holidays.

$12/$10 students and seniors
Free for Japan Society members (Join today!)
Free for patrons with disabilities and an accompanying Personal Care Assistant
Free admission on Fridays from 6—9 PM
  Docent-led Tours:
Friday & Saturday, 2:30 PM
Japanese language tours Friday at 6 PM
Tours are free with admission and approximately one hour in duration.     To arrange private group tours, please call (212) 715-1283. Two weeks    advance request recommended.

Student Group Tours: 
K-12 school groups can schedule interactive guided gallery tours and    hands-on workshops to experience Japanese culture firsthand and    make curricular connections. Two weeks advance request recommended.

Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics is supported, in part, by The Coby Foundation, Ltd., the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission as part of the institution-wide Passing the Torch series.


Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor and American Airlines, the exclusive U.S. airline sponsor of Gallery.

Exhibitions and Arts & Culture Lecture Programs at Japan Society are made possible, in part, by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund, the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, Raphael and Jane Bernstein, Friends of the Gallery, and an anonymous donor. Support for Arts & Culture Lecture Programs is provided, in part, by the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

Image: © AMUSE INC. Courtesy of Amuse Museum/Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.
br /> Image: © AMUSE INC. Courtesy of Amuse Museum/Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

Calendar of Events

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