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Special Exhibition

Passing on Cultural Heritage: Buddhist Murals and Sculptures of Horyuji

Wall Painting from Kondo Hall of Horyuji (No. 6) Copy (detail), By Sakurai Koun, Meiji period, 19th century (Tokyo National Museum, On exhibit from April 14 to May 10, 2020)

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T4 & T5

In Spring 2020, we are commemorating the 70th year since the passing of the Act on Protection of Cultural Heritage. This law was passed a year after a fire broke out in the Kondo (Main Hall) of Horyuji Temple (World Heritage), one of the oldest wooden structures of the world. Invaluable cultural properties, including the astonishing 1300-year old murals from the Asuka period (593–710) were severely damaged in this fire.
In the special exhibition Passing on Cultural Heritage: Buddhist Murals and Sculptures of Horyuji, we are displaying excellent reproductions of the murals of the Main Hall, the Kudara Kannon (National Treasure) and other objects that were damaged. By showing these works we wish to convey the importance of cultural preservation.

Upcoming KIMONO: Fashioning Identities

Robe (Kosode) with Waves and Mandarin Ducks, Edo period, 17th century (Important Cultural Property)

Heiseikan Special Exhibition Galleries

The kimono is one of Japan’s most iconic symbols, its colors and designs exemplifying Japanese cultural sensibilities and aesthetics. Lesser known, however, is that, the kimono originated as an undergarment. The predecessor to today’s kimono is a robe called the kosode (literally, “small sleeve openings”). The kosode first came into its own as an outer robe in medieval Japan during the Muromachi period (1392–1573). It was decorated accordingly with lavish dyed, embroidered, and gold or silver patterns.

This exhibition traces the kimono from its inception some eight hundred years ago to its role today as a symbol of Japanese culture with increasing sway on the contemporary fashion scene. Featuring some of the finest extant textiles, paintings, prints and other artworks drawn from collections in Japan and around the world, KIMONO: Fashioning Identities promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to consider the past, present, and future of this quintessential Japanese garment.