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Journey through Asia at the Tokyo National Museum: Mythical Animal Wonderland

アジアの旅2021 メインビジュアル

Every year, Journey through Asia at the Tokyo National Museum offers visitors a new viewing experience of the Asian Gallery through a particular theme.

This year’s theme is mythical and imaginary animals, which occupy a major theme in Asian art. The exhibition features a wide range of imaginary creatures, from known ones, such as the legendary bird-like Garuda from India, dragons, and Qilin from China, to unidentified creatures. There are so many kinds of imaginary animals that few of them look alike. This indicates there has been great diversity in the cultures that nurture them. We hope that you will enjoy this tour of imaginary animals from a variety of perspectives.



Major Works in this Exhibition

Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 11
Seated Ganesa
Angkor period, 12th-13th century
Ganesha, identified by his elephant head, is the son of the Hindu god Shiva, and was worshipped as the deity of wealth and wisdom."



Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 3
Clay Figures and Fragments
Yotkan, China, 1st-4th century
Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 3
Plaque with a Griffin
Excavated at Taranto, Italy, 4th century BC
This plaque is decorated with a griffin, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. A small amount of the gold leaf that covered the surface remains.



Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 4
Carved Monster
Reportedly found at Yinxu, Anyang, Henan Province, China, Shang dynasty, 13th–11th century BC
This object is said to have been excavated from a tomb from the Shang dynasty. A pillar or something similar may have been inserted into it.
Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5
Tomb Guardian, Three-color glaze
Tang dynasty, 7th-8th century (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)
This object in shape of a beast guarded a tomb gate. These kinds of objects are often characterized by their unusual appearances, featuring a human face, wings, and other elements.



Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5
Mirror with Sea Beasts and Grapes
Tang dynasty, 7th century
Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5
Octafoil Mirror with Immortals Riding Birds and Beasts
China, Tang dynasty, 8th century



Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5
Jar with a Dragon and Waves, Porcelain with underglaze blue
Jingdezhen ware, China, Yuan dynasty, 14th century
During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), high-quality cobalt was imported from Islamic regions. Cobalt was used to paint blue designs on ceramics before coating them in a clear glaze. The designs on this jar are painted in different shades of cobalt, making them appear almost as if they were moving.
Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 5
Basin with Dragons and Phoenixes, Porcelain with overglaze enamel
Jingdezhen ware, China, Ming dynasty, Wanli era (1573–1620), (Gift of Dr. Yokogawa Tamisuke)
this work was probably also used to heat or chill bottles of sake or for serving meals at tea ceremonies. Its colorful and bustling design is a typical example of porcelain decoration from the Wanli era (1573–1620).



Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 9
Wine Vessel (You) with Animal Masks (Taotie)
Qing dynasty, 19th century (Gift of Mr. Kamiya Denbei)
This cloisonné container imitates the shape of an ancient bronze vessel that was filled with wine for rituals.


Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 11
Angkor period, 11th century
A lintel is a horizontal brace at an entrance. The woman depicted, for whom two elephants pour water, is the goddess Laksmi."



All tickets are now timed-entry tickets and must be purchased in advance online. Museum members and other visitors eligible for free admission must also make reservations online.

See visitor information page for more details.


September 14, 2021 (Tue) - October 17, 2021 (Sun)  
Asian Gallery (Toyokan)
Mondays (except for September 20) and September 21.
Adults: 1,000 yen
University students: 500 yen
High/Junior High/Elementary School Students and persons under 18 and over 70: Free

*Special exhibitions require separate ticketing procedure and admission fees.

*Persons with disabilities are admitted free of charge along with one attendant. Please show official ID or other documentation.

*Regular admission is free for persons under 18 and over 70. Please show proof of age (driver's license, passport, etc.) when entering.

*Free admission to the regular exhibitions on September 20 (excluding special exhibitions).