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Gathering the gems of Japanese art

National Treasures: Masterpieces of Japan


How many national treasures are there in Japan? As of 2017, there are 1108 items. Approximately 200 items of national treasures will gather in Kyoto for a special exhibition this fall. To commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Kyoto National Museum, an exhibition titled National Treasures: Masterpieces of Japan will be held. The exhibition will be divided into four terms, presenting the greatest treasures of the Japanese art.

1co_teteOne of the highlight is the presentation of three works by great masters: Korin Ogata’s “Irises” (Nezu Museum, Tokyo), Okyo Maruyama’s “Pine Trees” (Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo) and Buson Yosa’s “Snowclad Houses in the Night” (4th Term). The unique perspective of “Pine Trees,” in which the branches seem to come forward on the right panels while they stretch backwards on the left panels, is juxtaposed with “Irises” with unique flat composition and “Snowclad Houses in the Night” depicting night landscape, which is rare for Japanese paintings. It is a great opportunity to enjoy the differences of aesthetics and uses of spaces among the masters.

About 10 percent of the National Treasures were created outside of Japan. The fuzzy monkey depicted in Muqi Fachang’s “Guanyin, Monkeys, and Crane” (Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto) will charm viewers. The Sesshu is sometimes regarded as the champion of National Treasures, for six of his works are registered as National Treasures, and all six of them will be shown in a room, which will be a breathtaking experience to see (October 3rd – October 22nd) The exhibition’s include not only paintings but also variety of objects from archaic objects including Flame-Rimmed Deep Vessel to Buddhist statues, calligraphy, dyed and woven clothes, porcelain and metal works such as swords and armors. These gems will surely take your breath away.

(Text: Naoko Aono)

National Treasures: Masterpieces of Japan
Dates: October 3rd (Tue) – November 26th (Su)
1st Term: 10/3-15, 2nd Term: 10/17-29, 3rd Term: 10/31-11/12, 4th Term: 11/14-26
Venue: Kyoto National Museum, Heisei Chishinkan, 527 Chaya-cho, Higashiyama, Kyoto
Hours: 9:30-18:00 (-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, entrance closes 30 minutes before the closing time) Closed on Mondays (Open on 10/9, closed on 10/10)
Admission: 1,500 yen
Inquiry: tel. 075-525-2473 (Telephone Service)

National Treasure “Pine Trees” by Okyo Maruyama, Edo period, 18th century. Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo (Exhibited from 10/31 to 11/26)

National Treasure “Flame-Rimmed Deep Vessel” excavated from Sasayama site, Niigata prefecture. Jomon period, 3500-2500 BCE. City of Tokamachi, Niigata (kept in the Tokamachi City Museum).



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