Teenagers rarely go to museums by choice, but Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum in Shinjuku is a special case. On a recent lunchtime visit groups of lively students came into the galleries and fell into quiet, appreciative murmurs over the needlework of Indian villagers and Japanese grandmothers.

That is because the museum is on the impressive campus of a leading fashion school. Famous graduates of Bunka Fashion College include Kenzo Takada and Yohji Yamamoto. For many years the institute has been building up a valuable design resource in its costume museum. Its collection of 30,000 items includes an early Western-style court gown worn by the Meiji Empress, rare silks from the 8th-century Shoso-in and gorgeous 18th-century French brocades.

The current winter exhibition, however, features something a little more homely: needlework created by mothers' hands.