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Change of Exhibits, Regular Exhibitions: Starting from July 7, 2020 (Tue)

Regular exhibitions at Tokyo National Museum are rotated almost every week. This page provides the latest information on the change of exhibits.
* Some works are exhibited for a longer period of time.

Japanese Gallery (Honkan)

  
Room 1  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - December 25, 2020 (Fri)

Japan has some of the earliest pottery in the world, dating back about 13,000 years. It was created by the people of the Jōmon period (ca. 11,000–400 BC). These people built permanent settlements and relied on hunting, fishing, and gathering.

At the height of their culture, they made pottery with richly sculpted forms and figurines with distinctive shapes.

In the Yayoi period (ca. 4th century BC–first half of 3rd century AD), people from Northeast Asia (now China and Korea) immigrated to Japan. They brought knowledge of how to farm rice and make objects with bronze and iron. More food became available and people started making tools, weapons, and ritual objects with metal.

In the Kofun period (ca. second half of 3rd–7th century), regional rulers seized power and resources. They formed an early state and the imperial line became its central authority. These rulers had giant tomb mounds built for themselves, with clay sculptures placed outside and valuable objects buried inside to express the rulers’ authority even after death.

  
Room 1  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 23, 2020 (Sun)

Japan's leaders transformed their society by adopting Buddhism and other foreign cultures and practices. Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha in ancient India around 500 BC. Later it spread throughout Asia and was introduced to Japan from the Korean Peninsula in the 6th century AD.

In the Asuka period (593–710), people from the Korean Peninsula brought advanced knowledge to Japan. They included monks, scholars, and artisans, who brought technology, scholarship, artistic traditions, and Buddhist teachings. Under the leadership of the emperor and powerful clans, Buddhism began to flourish as temples were built and sacred images created.

In the Nara period (710–794), Japan’s leaders emulated the Buddhist culture that was thriving in China. In the capital of Nara, the emperor oversaw the creation of a giant buddha sculpture at Tōdaiji Temple, the symbol of a state now unified under Buddhism.

The sculptures, ritual tools, sacred texts, and other works on display illustrate these two periods of rapid change.

  
Room 2  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 10, 2020 (Mon)

This room is specially designed for the comfortable viewing of masterpieces in a tranquil setting. With each rotation, one exceptional work of painting or calligraphy designated as National Treasure will be presented. The selections come from the Museum's collection or works that are on loan to the Museum.

  
Room 3  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

The beliefs and arts of Buddhism, along with its followers, became more diverse over time. In the Heian period (794–1192), the emperor and court nobility practiced and supported Buddhism. They used their vast wealth to build temples and create images for worship, often in delicate styles reflecting their tastes.
In the Kamakura period (1192–1333), the samurai gained political power, also becoming patrons of Buddhism. They preferred Buddhist art that was clear and dynamic, which led artisans to develop new styles. Many common people also became followers of Buddhism at this time, blending this religion with local beliefs, especially in the Muromachi period (1392–1573).
During these centuries, monks brought new schools of Buddhist thought from China, and developed new schools in Japan based on older teachings. Buddhism also became more integrated with Shinto, the indigenous religion. The paintings, sculptures, ritual tools, and sacred calligraphy on display illustrate this diversity in Buddhism.

  
Room 3  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

After emulating China for generations, the imperial court began to develop its own cultural identity around the 10th century. This movement was led by the court nobility serving the emperor. The body of work they produced — literature, calligraphy, painting, and elegantly decorated items for daily use — became one of Japan’s cultural foundations.

Even after the samurai gained more political power than the court in the 12th century, the court remained the home of high culture for centuries.

The different art forms of the court were closely related, with literature playing a central role. Previously the nobility wrote in Chinese, but the creation of a new writing system (kana) helped Japanese literature to flourish. Both noblemen and noblewomen wrote some of Japan’s most celebrated poetry and stories, including by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu. Scenes from literature were also shown in paintings and on furnishings, which the nobility commissioned for their mansions.

  
Room 3  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

Zen Buddhism was introduced from China, and had widespread influence on culture in Japan. Zen does not stress elaborate rituals or the study of sacred texts. Rather, it teaches that meditation and daily tasks, even cooking and cleaning, are the way to spiritual enlightenment. In the 13th century, monks brought Zen to Japan as a complete school of Buddhist thought.

These monks also brought the latest cultural practices from China. One of them was ink painting, which uses expressive lines and delicate gradations to portray nature and people. Ink painting spread beyond Zen temples and became a major artistic tradition in Japan.

Another practice was calligraphy by Zen masters, which was prized for its spiritual and aesthetic value.Along with the painting and calligraphy shown here, Zen Buddhism influenced tea ceremony, garden design, and many other forms of art.

  
Room 4  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 10, 2020 (Mon)

Tea drinking and its role in society changed over time. In the 12th century, Zen monks introduced a new kind of tea drinking from China: green tea was ground into a powder and mixed with hot water. Monks drank this tea as a medicine and to stay awake during meditation.

Before long, the samurai also began to drink tea and competed for prizes in blind tasting competitions. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the elite samurai who ruled Japan focused on the aesthetics of tea drinking. They collected valuable Chinese works like paintings and tea bowls, displaying and using them during tea gatherings.

A century later, Sen no Rikyū (1522–91) established the foundations of the tea ceremony. When serving tea, he used valuable Chinese works together with simple utensils. He also stressed humility and the beauty of imperfection. Elite samurai practiced his style and its variations as a social, aesthetic, and spiritual pursuit.

From its origins until the present, the tea ceremony has always incorporated diverse genres of art. Works that tea masters believed had great aesthetic or historical value were carefully passed down through the generations. A selection of these works is shown here and changed regularly to reflect the seasons.

  
The Prince Takamado Collection Room  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - October 18, 2020 (Sun)

This exhibition displays contemporary netsuke, which was collected by the late Prince Takamado with her Imperial Highness Princess.

Asian Gallery (Toyokan)

  
Room 3  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

This part introduces art of the Western Regions (Central Asia) from about the 1st to the 10th century, with a focus on Buddhist art. The highlight of this part is the rich variety of works with high artistic and historical significance.

  
Room 5  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - November 1, 2020 (Sun)

This gallery introduces burial items of tombs from about the 2nd century BC to the 8th century AD. Mingqi are models of various implements and equipment, such as cooking stoves, vehicles including carriages and oxcarts, and even toilets. Tomb figures are models of humans who served a master, such as servants and entertainers. The objects on display present the idealized lifestyle that people of this time entrusted to mingqi and tomb figures.

  
Room 5  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - November 1, 2020 (Sun)

This gallery presents the changing expressions of Chinese ceramics from the 7th to the 19th century.

  
Room 8  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

Dr. Hayashi Munetake (1923–2006) was a businessman and collector born into the distinguished Lin Benyuan family in Taiwan.

  
Room 8  July 7, 2020 (Tue) - August 16, 2020 (Sun)

The literati were people who devoted themselves to reading, calligraphy, painting, and other highly valued art forms in China. Their way of life was viewed as an ideal. This exhibition room recreates the studies of the literati, where they created works of calligraphy and painting.