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Andrzej Wajda - Why Japan?

During the German occupation, which I spent in Krakow, I had to hide because my papers were very unsatisfactory. I went to town just once, when I found out that at the Sukiennice Hall there is an exhibition of Japanese art. I didn't know where the collection came from and who had assembled it here, in Krakow. Japan was a German ally during the war, so the Governor-General Frank, who resided at the Wawel Castle, decided to organize an exhibition as a homage to Japan and used this collection. I took a risk and slipped into the Sukiennice and I must say it was an incredible adventure. I remember every detail to this day and I think that the Japanese Centre, standing today by the Vistula river, originated to a large degree from the extraordinary event, which was my encounter with Japanese art here, in Krakow.

Many years later, when my films became well-known and I went abroad a lot, I was also noticed in Japan where I was awarded the prestigious "Kyoto Prize", which is the Japanese equivalent of the Nobel Prize. In short, I received an enormous amount of money - 340 000 USD was a sum beyond my imagination. In all my life I had never earned as much from a Polish movie and I thought - my wife, Krystyna, was of the same opinion - that this is a good moment to consider Japan in Krakow, because this huge collection, about 15 000 various objects, works of art, should be found a place here. Arata Isosaki made a drawing, he came here earlier, and we were standing on the terrace at the Wawel Castle, and he just looked. The city propsed several locations, but in his opinion it was best to build near water, because the most beautiful buildings in the world are built on the waterside. So he selected this location and then the political situation changed suddenly. The new voyevoda was a man who supported this project - Mr. Tadeusz Piekarz, who offered this plot for our Centre. The building was constructed in 15 months. Owing to the government of Japan and to the Railwaymen Union, which also donated a large sum of money for this purpose, Japan suddenly came into existence in Krakow.

An excerpt from a speech from the film "The Debit and the Credit"

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