The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Multiethnic Japan: The Life and History of Immigrants

Multiethnic Japan - Life and History of Immigrants -

Guide of Exhibition Hall

[ First Floor ]
The historical background of multiethnic Japan, the response of Japanese society including local governments and NGOs to deal with the developing society, and activities of foreign residents are focused on this floor.
- History of “Multiethnic Japan”
Today's “multiethnic Japan” has a long history since the first creation of a foreign settlement here. It was followed by an outflow of Japanese emigrants to the new world, and a host of people coming and going, sometimes in a forceful manner, under Japan's policy of colonization. Combined with the era of the bubble economy, an upsurge of foreign population appeared after the World War II. Tracing the history of today's “multiethnic Japan”, administrative and legal systems concerning foreign matters including immigration control are examined here.
- Thematic Area of “Multiethnic Japan”
This area illustrates important topics vital to understanding the present picture of “multiethnic Japan”. Topics included are the complicated procedure for immigration, jobs mainly taken by non-Japanese, Islamic people living in Japan who maintain Islamic customs and practices in their daily life, and deep-seated discrimination against foreign residents in Japanese society.
- Cities in Which Foreign Residents are Concentrated
Foreign residents depending on the host community's demand for labor are inclined to concentrate in certain area by occupation. Restaurants, video shops and other reciprocal community networks emerge from these areas, attracting foreign residents all the more. Such dynamism promotes activities in view of harmonious co-existence involving the local people and governments.
- An Ethnic Arcade
Lots of grocery stores selling Korean, Vietnamese, and South Asian goods can be found today. Playing the role in providing people of respective community with necessary goods, these stores also serve as a place of exchanging information or a place of recreation and relaxation, as well as a place for the Japanese people to meet different cultures.
- Administrative Projects and NGOs' Activities
As foreign residents take root in Japanese society, they have to face legal and institutional problems concerning medical care, employment, dwellings, and education. In addition, the linguistic barrier and differences in customs have caused cultural friction between foreign residents and local Japanese people. Responding to this situation, NGOs and local governments have helped foreign residents in various ways to fit in to local communities.
- Multiethnic Festival Square
Religious and cultural events originating in foreign countries are on display here. Such events as Lion Dances, Dragon Dances, and the procession of the Catholic Saints by Peruvians offer good opportunities for cultural exchange and have greatly contributed to activating local communities.
- Children's Corner
In this section, children with various cultural backgrounds send messages to children who are visiting the special exhibition through essays, pictures, and art works.
- Satellite Studio of “FM waiwai” Radio Station
The multilingual radio station, “FM waiwai” based in Kobe, sends a program concerning the exhibits and events of the special exhibition in various languages every Sunday afternoon from the Minpaku Satellite Studio.
- Multiethnic Media
Newspaper and magazines in various languages targeting foreign residents are increasing in number. More than two hundred publications printed in sixteen languages including Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Tagalog are put into circulation today. In this area, visitors are free to reach out to foreign publications on display.
- Panda Room / Ethnic Schools
Reproduced in this section is a classroom for the children or grandchildren of Chinese returnees who have Chinese descent. Other ethnic schools are also included. You can experience a variety of play activities of different ethnic groups.

[ Second Floor ]
Displayed on this floor are different groups of foreign people who reside in Japan, such as Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, Filipino, and Vietnamese. They are introduced through their history of immigration, and their actual life in Japan.
- Chinese Residing in Japan

Since the time of the Meiji Restoration, overseas Chinese left their country and have established own life and culture in Japan with the spirit of mutual aid. While they settled and assimilated into Japanese society, indications of change are arising in their society due to the increase of a new generation with different customs and consciousness.
- Filipinos Residing in Japan

Philippine people who came to Japan before or after the World War, those who immigrated into Japan after the 1970s, and those who grew up in Japan as the second generation are covered in this section. It is very interesting to learn about Filipinos who lived in Japan before and after the World War, because it clarifies the relevancy and irrelevancy of their life and that of the contemporary generation.
- Brazilians Residing in Japan

There are 270,000 Brazilian in Japan at present. They have their roots in those who migrated to Brazil from Japan and their families. This section focuses on those who came to the country of their ancestors to seek employment, what they have looked forward to and how they are living in Japan now.
- Vietnamese Residing in Japan

This section introduces the life history of several Vietnamese together with photographs of their life in Japan, cultural activities in the community such as the Lunar New Year and the mid-autumn harvest festival, and educational and religious activities. A typical living room is duplicated to illustrate how they live in Japan.
- Koreans Residing in Japan

Under the half-century Japanese control over Korea, there were people who directly or indirectly were compelled to immigrate into Japan. This biggest minority group in Japan, referred to as zainichi, has continued four generations to date. Despite their adverse circumstances, they have laid a solid base in Japanese society. They are seeking new ways of living in Japan with those who newly emigrated from Korea.