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Exhibition celebrates car designs

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Japanese cars will be sharing centre stage with delicate bonsai trees in an exhibition of designs from the land of the rising sun.

Japan Car: Designs For The Crowded Globe, which opens on Saturday at the Science Museum in London, was created through a collaboration between graphic designers and architects.

Visitors will be able to see 14 cars from the past decade and conceptual models, including the Nissan PIVO2 and Toyota i-REAL, arranged alongside Japanese bonsai, art and design.

The exhibition, sponsored by seven Japanese motor manufacturers, aims to explore the idea of the car as a "mobile cell" and examines the future of transport in overcrowded 21st-century cities.

Miniature model cars will be displayed next to trees that are up to 120 years old so as to look like the suiseki - the natural stones that often accompany a bonsai display.

Brought to London by bonsai master Seiji Morimae, who represents the 18th generation of a horticulturist and bonsai nursery family going back 500 years, the trees will be switched weekly and stored at Kew Gardens while awaiting display.

Exhibition curator Kenya Hara said: "Although the history of cars in Japan began with an attempt to emulate the West's automotive technology and culture, the context of Japanese lifestyles and Japan's particular route to industrial development has given Japan's cars their own unique characteristics and individuality."

© Press Association 2008