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Explore Japan

The World of Miniatures

Aired: December 17, 2020 (UTC)


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The world of miniatures is a surprisingly whimsical one, and among it Japanese miniatures have gained a worldwide reputation for being exceptionally unique. In 2020, one of the world’s largest indoor miniature theme parks opened in Tokyo. A wave of miniature art is one the rise, incorporating such everyday subjects as minute recreations of convenience store foods. Uncompromising miniature artistry simulates not just tiny packages, but single grains of rice inside at smaller than 1 mm each.

We watched the craft of a miniature artist with over 2.5 million followers on Instagram, as he uses his incredible imagination to create art with substitution, or mitate: Ordinary objects such as staples and vegetables stand in for scenery or landscape to create immense worlds. Another artist specializes in miniatures carefully recreating the images of rooms and buildings so as to immortalize the memories found within. More than just detail, his works portray the recollections of those who order the miniatures, and the Japanese sensibilities embodied by them.

Examining the creations of 3 different miniature artists, the program explores Japan’s largely unknown history of miniatures, and what it is about them that has earned such an adoring following in Japan.

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