This excursion will be back soon. In the meantime we’d be happy to organise a private tour for you. Please contact us on 020 7624 3978 | to make a booking.

Korean & Japanese Art in the British Museum

Russell Square underground station, London

Guided by Dr Barry

Short version: Passing through a portal to different worlds.

Long version: To different times. Different places. Different cultures. To people whose experience – the way they saw the world, the meanings they attributed to it – was hugely different from ours. That's where the portals to Rooms 67 and 91-94 in the British Museum take you.

To the recreation of the serene wooden Sarangbang or scholar's house and feng shui Korean style. Then, moving on at a pace that’s right for this world – a pace that enables us to see these objects properly, see into them (read the stories they tell) – we’re in the presence of the beguiling Korean ceramic Moon Jars.

Our wide-eyed Marco Polo* journey of discovery continues. Continues into the intriguing world of the Land of the Rising Sun. Behold the early Dogu ceramics (that influenced a famous David Bowie costume, let alone Manga comic stories). And those cruel yet elegant Samurai swords and unique armour (looking at them is to have Shogun rear up in front of you, the real thing, stern and glowering, not just a lapdog of a name in a history book). And then, point counterpoint, those cruel swords melt into geishas in woodblock prints from the ‘Floating world’ pleasure quarters of Edo (Tokyo). And just over here, the most refined laquerware (a tale of gold dust blown onto the wet lacquer through a straw). And round this corner, Zen Buddhism. Short of flying half way round the world it’s as close as you can get to that world view, that mindset, that outlook, that way of making sense of this existence. The recreated tea house with its extraordinary rituals – it’s not just an exhibit, it’s a Zen Buddhism experience.

It all comes down to the stories these objets d'art tell – and the guiding through which those stories are mediated. This specialist British Museum is guided by London Walks' Renaissance Man, Dr. Barry.

*Yeah, yeah we know. MP went to China. Please do cut us some slack – we're using his name adjectivally precisely because of the name recognition and because his is a tale of a Westerner gob smacked by the Orient, the which fits perfectly for what happens when we step into Rooms 67 and 91-94 at WC1B 3DG.