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9 Agency for Cultural Affairs' foreword Each year the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan sends an exhibition of traditional Japanese cultural treasures to a different foreign country. Our aim is to increase understanding abroad of the history and culture of Japan and thereby contribute to good international relations. On this occasion we are happy to be staging an exhibition of ancient Japanese doguat the British Museum. Doguare prehistoric artefacts made in Japan up to about 2,300 years ago, low- fired clay objects often in the shape of the human body. They survive in many forms: some with their arms up- stretched, others sitting and some apparently female figures crouching, close to giving birth. All are highly appreciated internationally as works of art, as well as being concrete manifestations of the spiritual world and beliefs of the Jomon people. This exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of dogu, from their earliest beginnings in the Jomon period some 14,000 years ago until their final decline at the beginning of the subsequent Yayoi period, some 2,300 years ago. The finest examples, including many National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, have been assembled from many regions of Japan. In addition to the clay dogufigures from the middle to late Jomon ( about 4,500 to 3,000 years ago), which are rich in individuality and sculptural beauty, there are also clay vessels with applied human forms and striking clay masks with exaggerated features. This is the first time, either in Japan or internationally, that all of these pieces have been displayed together. We hope very much that the exhibition will provide an opportunity for people from many countries who visit the British Museum to deepen their interest and understanding of Japan and that it will further cultural exchange between the United Kingdom and Japan. Last but not least, we would like to express our warm thanks to all those who have worked so hard to bring the exhibition to fruition. Aoki Tamotsu Commissioner, Agency for Cultural Affairs