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period: 16.05.2009 - 30.08.2009

place: De Lakenhal Stedelijk Museum Leiden

on occasion of: Holland Mania Manifestation


Smell is the medium used by artist Maki Ueda. She takes you on a sensory journey to 17th-century Japan when the Dutch were stationed on the artificial island Deshima off the Japanese coast. The Japanese history of smell cannot be told without including the role of the Dutch: the Dutch East India Company (VOC) brought cloves, nutmeg, other spices and essential oils to Japan. The Dutch also introduced new distilling techniques to the Japanese in the 17th century.


Smells from Japanese History


Ueda uses a range of extraction techniques for oils and extracts odours from daily life. Here she uses smells that refer to the history shared by the Netherlands and Japan. Her installations are based on historical fact and arise in her imagination. In this space Ueda has created a maruyama geisha, a geisha's chamber. These geishas served as temporary wives for the heads of the VOC, because Western women were not allowed to enter Japan at that time.



You are invited to sniff around and survey the room. Step into the role of the geisha or that of the visiting VOC chief. Lie down on the tatami mats, powder your face and sample the odours of old Japan, smells that were so exotic to the first Dutch visitors.

Live Geisha Performances

A live "geisha" performance will take place here on 16, 17 and 30 May; 6, 13, 14, June; 4 July (Museum Night 8 pm - 11 pm) and 5 July

Ueda's second installation is in room 24 of the museum, the Beer Brewers Guild Chamber: The Head of the VOC Visiting a Geisha