|The Japanese archipelago - comprised of the four main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and a multitude of smaller ones -- lies beyond the eastern edge of the Asian continent. Not surprisingly, it has historically been actively engaged with its neighbors China and Korea, as well as Southeast Asia. Japan did not begin to emerge as a cohesive, national state until well into the 17th century under the Tokugawa shogunate, and even then a strong measure of regional political autonomy persisted. The decentralized political structure is mirrored in the cultural realm as well, in the development of multiple regional hubs of art and culture rather than one dominant center. The Japanese objects in the Asia Society collection reflect this diversity of regional traditions, as well as the remarkable ability of the Japanese to transform foreign artistic stimuli.