The Eric Carle Museum, Exhibits



The Eric Carle Museum (125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002, Amherst MA)

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan

The show opens on March 18, 2023 and will be on view through August 20, 2023.

The exhibition explores Eric Carle’s long association with—and deep admiration for—the country of Japan. Carle made five trips to Japan during his lifetime. It was the picture book museums he and his wife Barbara saw there—the Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino, the Anno Art Museum in Tsuwano, and Kazuo Iwamura Picture Book Hill Museum in Nakagawa—that became the inspiration for the establishment of The Carle. The six Japanese maple trees outside the Museum’s Great Hall are a reminder of this important connection.

Carle noted, “The picture book museums that we visited and admired in Japan all those years ago planted a seed that has now blossomed and grown into a home for picture book art in our own country.”

Most guests may be unaware that Carle’s most beloved book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was “hatched” in Japan in 1969. The book’s editor, Ann Beneduce, brought the project to Japan when she was unable to find a printer in the United States who could affordably construct the book’s unique design elements. It was the innovative engineers at Kaisei-sha Publishing Company in Tokyo who expertly printed and aligned the die-cut holes and shortened pages that became the book’s signature features. Now, 53 years later, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the most translated children’s book in Japan and will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary in the country!

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan includes never-before-seen photographs of Carle’s visits to Japan over a 32-year period. Of special interest are the original illustrations by Carle and Kazuo Iwamura from their book Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!, a 2001 collaboration between two picture book giants. Also on view are Carle’s illustrated haiku, Japanese word collages, and the portrait he made of a mother—not a teacher—specifically for the Japanese edition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

There are several unique objects on view, like a Japanese quilted version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, exclusive Japanese merchandise, and prints donated by the Chihiro Art Museum when the Museum opened in 2002. Select labels are presented in English and Japanese. Guests are invited to create collaborative books inspired by Carle’s and Iwamura’s Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!

The Carle’s chief curator, Ellen Keiter, organized the exhibition with Courtney Waring, director of education, Motoko Inoue, Carle’s longtime creative director, and Rachel Hass, Carle’s former assistant and now a member of the Museum staff. Keiter says, “Assembling Eric Carle ❤️ Japan was a group effort. The exhibition is more personal than most, highlighting Eric’s fondness for Japanese culture; it includes ephemera like handwritten notes and photographs. Motoko and Rachel provided great insight and historical references. It was fun to curate together!”

Eric Carle ❤️ Japan is made possible through a generous gift from Kaisei-sha Publishing Company.

All Eric Carle exhibitions at the Museum are made possible through the generous support of the Hsin-Yi Foundation.

Japanese language translations provided by the Translation Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The Museum acknowledges The Chihiro Art Museum and the Kazuo Iwamura Picture Book Hill Museum for their assistance with this exhibition.