Are the Japanese alone in their admiration of the imperfect? This is one of several questions arising from an odd exhibition now on at Tokyo’s Shoto Museum of Art in Shibuya, a pleasant but puzzling “curiosity shop” selection of arts and crafts, ranging from colorful screen paintings to bamboo baskets.

Awash in a sea of impressions, I asked the curator, Arata Yajima, to throw me a lifeline, appealing to him with the question: What is the aim of this exhibition?

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