Innovative designs by world-renowned design engineer and The University of Tokyo Professor Yamanaka Shunji are on display at Japan House’s latest exhibition Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation. Running 16 January - 17 March 2019, the exhibition explores the potential of prototypes to act as a link between cutting-edge technology and society, offering us a glimpse into the structures and textures of the future. Enjoy learning the stories behind the prototypes and interacting with displays.

Forget Alexa, Siri and driverless cars, Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation brings to London prototypes such as ‘Ready to Crawl’, a series of robots which are 'born' fully formed just like a living thing, with all of their parts created at the same time, fully assembled, and with form and movement closely mirroring living things.

Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition at Japan House London 16Jan 17Mar2019 ImageJeremie Souteyrat 12

Visitors learn the stories behind the prototypes. They can touch and interact with select displays, offering a glimpse of the structures and textures of the future. The three core exhibit themes include:

  • Additive Manufacturing: Taking prototyping to the next level with 3D-printing which has allowed engineers and designers to create infinitely more complex prototypes with textures and the “feeling of the future.”
  • Bio-Likeness Robots: Beyond metal and motors, Japanese researchers explore adding life-like motion and behaviour to robots, giving the impression of intelligence; for example, the robot ‘Apostroph’ examines the mechanisms that allow living organisms to stand.
  • Prosthetics: Various interpretations of the “expanded human body.”

Following the exhibition’s knock-out success at Japan House Los Angeles, the exhibition will run for the first time in the UK from 16 January to 17 March 2019.

Populo 1 bicycle European launch at Japan House London

Populomobile at Japan House London

As part of the celebration of innovative Japanese design during the Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition, The Shop at Japan House London will have on display products exploring the possibilities of paper by Shikou Shiten (founded by past students of Professor Yamanaka) and will also launch an exclusive range of ‘populo 1’ bicycles designed by leading Japanese car designer Yamada Atsuhiko. The unique, streamlined U-frame stainless steel bicycle offers a stylish approach to urban mobility and have never before been sold in Europe. The compact ‘pupulo 1’ bicycle showcases a pure and simple design approach that aims to transform the way Londoners move around.

Exhibition menu at Akira

Mikan dessert at AKIRA restaurant during Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition at Japan House London 16Jan 17Mar2019

Especially for the Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition, Akira restaurant at Japan House London introduces a cocktail and dessert inspired by Ehime Prefecture, Professor Yamanaka’s birthplace in Japan. Ehime is renowned for citrus fruit production; especially mikan (satsuma mandarin). The Ehime Garden cocktail is made with Suntory ROKU gin, yuzu juice and slices of mikan. The dessert is a mikan crème brûlée. The mikan cocktail and dessert are available at Akira restaurant for the duration of the exhibition (16 January - 17 March 2019).

Ehime Garden cocktail at AKIRA restaurant during Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition at Japan House London

For more information about this free exhibition on ‘Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating design-led innovation’, please visit:

Commenting on ‘Prototyping in Tokyo’ Professor Yamanaka Shunji, world-renowned design engineer and University of Tokyo professor:

“When I design products for the market or prototypes for research, I don't intentionally draw on Japanese aesthetics for inspiration. However, outside Japan, my works are often described as resembling 'Japanese style'. An art director from France once told me that the attitude of cherishing a basic element and adding nothing conveys the sense of Japan. An architect from Italy said that my design is minimal and rich, and that that is 'Japanese style'. A professor from the USA described his understanding of 'Japanese style' to me as the fusion of organic and machine-made. Although what I am doing is simply searching for the common ground between science and beauty, people tend to find various interpretations of Japanese aesthetics in my designs. I look forward to seeing how people in the UK feel about my works.”

Additional Information
Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating Design-Led Innovation will be open to the public at Japan House London from 16 January through 17 March 2019. Admission free.

Exhibition presented by:
Prof Yamanaka Shunji | Prototyping & Design Laboratory, The University of Tokyo
+ Japan House London

Production Cooperation:
DENSO Corp. / DENSO WAVE Inc., Tetsudo Kousaikai Foundation
Prosthetics and Orthotics Care Centre, SIP / MIAMI Project

London Exhibition Sponsor:
Ricoh Europe PLC

About Professor Yamanaka Shunji

Prof Yamanaka exhibits Running Specific Prostheses in Prototyping in Tokyo at Japan House London

Founder of Leading Edge Design and professor at the University of Tokyo, Professor Yamanaka Shunji is one of the most respected design engineers in Japan, with previous works ranging from wristwatches to railway carriages. Recently, Yamanaka’s projects include beautiful prosthetics and life-like robots that re-examine the relationship between humans and machines. Numerous honours include: the 2004 Mainichi Design Award, the iF Design Award, and multiple Good Design Awards (backed by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Infrastructure). His 2010 work, Tagtype Garage Kit, is part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

About Japan House London

Prototyping in Tokyo exhibition at Japan House London 16Jan 17Mar2019

Japan House London is the new cultural centre offering visitors an experience of the best and latest from Japan. Located on London’s Kensington High Street, the experience is an authentic encounter with Japan, engaging and surprising even the most knowledgeable guests. Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology, it deepens our appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. Part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are two other Japan Houses in Los Angeles and São Paulo.

About Ricoh Europe PLC, London Exhibition Sponsor
Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services enabling individuals to work smarter. For more than 80 years, Ricoh has been driving innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems. In the additive manufacturing space, Ricoh has established dedicated Rapid Fab facilities in the UK and Japan. The sites offer a showroom experience and cover a full range of services from consultancy and training to design and post processing.  Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2018, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,063 billion yen (approx. 19.4 billion USD).


For more information or images please contact:

Hollie Mantle, PR Manager [email protected] 

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