Billed as an exhibition of masterpieces from the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), "Admired from Afar" is the latest in a number of exhibitions of Japanese art from American collections to be held in Japan. The exhibition comprises 51 paintings and occupies only half of the special exhibition galleries of Tokyo National Museum's (TNM) Heiseikan. Patient viewers who manage to avoid the worst of the crowds, however, will be much rewarded.

The exhibits, arranged into the categories of devotional art and human figures, flora and fauna, narrative subjects, and landscapes were acquired largely under Sherman Lee (1918-2008), CMA's director from 1958 to 1983. Lee was exceptionally disciplined as a collector and the exhibition reads in part as homage to his artistic tastes and values.

According to Interim Director Fred Bidwell, "the concept of the 'masterpiece' is central to the culture of the Cleveland Museum of Art.""It's not", he explains, "a stamp collection where you want one of every year," but rather reflects "a more refined ideal" wherein everything is of "extremely high quality."