Priceless art treasures, many of them hidden for centuries from Western eyes, are on display in Belgium in a three-month festival called "Europalia 89," the biggest celebration of Japanese culture ever held outside Japan.
With an ambitious program of painting, sculpture, music, theater and film in full swing, the festival's Belgian organizers hope to give a rare insight into a country which for many remains an enigma.
"Japan is present in every European's daily life, and yet nobody here knows anything about life in Japan," said Martine Baudin, general director of Europalia's organizers.
"This is a great opportunity for us to offer Japanese culture to Europe," said Taizo Ueda of Europalia's Japanese committee.
The first Europalia, held in 1969, was devoted to all things Italian. Since then the biennial event has invited a different country every two years, but this is the first time it has sought inspiration beyond the shores of Europe.