Opening of the exhibition “Bamboo and Birch”

The photo exhibition “Bamboo and Birch. The POWs of the Russo-Japanese war 1904–1905” was opened in The State Museum of Political History of Russia.

150 archival photographs tell about how Russian and Japanese POWs were kept, how their daily life looked like. “It’s not the first time when The State Museum of Political History of Russia addresses to the topic of the relations between Russia and Japan; more than 500 exhibits about it are kept in the museum funds - popular prints and postcards about the Russian-Japanese war, photographs, documents, correspondence of military leaders and diplomats,” - said Evgeni Artemov, director of The State Museum of Political History of Russia, at the opening of the exhibition.

The exhibition was organized by the Tokyo Russian Language Institute. Yosihiko Mori, its director, has been collecting materials about the Russian-Japanese war for many years. The number of Russian soldiers and officers captured during this war, exceeded 70 thousand. "For the Japanese people, this was the first large-scale experience of communicating with the foreigners and other cultures," - said Mori at the opening of the exhibition. According to him, the name “Bamboo and Birch” was not chosen by chance and reminds of the exchange of the cultural experience: during life in Russia, Japanese prisoners made musical instruments from the birch, and Russian prisoners who lived in Japan made them from bamboo.

The exhibition presents string instruments from the collection of the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatrical and Musical Art - lunar guitar (geckin) and shamisen. They were made by the Japanese POWs, held in the village Medved of the Novgorod region. Other unique exhibits include photographs collected by the French Consul in Japan, Lucy-Fossarye during the war on behalf of the French government. More than 450 photographs have become the part of the official report of the stay and maintenance of the prisoners, now they are kept in the Russian State Archive of Cinema and Photo Documents (RSACPD).

The photographs were well preserved, the album with them in a small edition of the Russian State Archive of Cinema and Photo Documents, together with the Tokyo Russian Language Institute was published in 2010, said Elena Koloskova, a representative of the archive of film and photo documents. "Relations between Russia and Japan have not always been smooth, but similar projects allow two countries to come closer," - she said.

On the first day of the exhibition, the Consul General of Japan in Saint-Petersburg Masanori Fukushima visited it, and the famous Japanese musician Yasuo Kinohati, a master of playing the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi, performed at the opening of the exhibition.

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