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Life and Death in the Kamakura Period

"Life and Death in the Kamakura Period"

Heiseikan Japanese Archaeology Gallery  September 22, 2021 (Wed) - March 21, 2022 (Mon)

Itabi with Sanskrit Characters Symbolizing Amitabha Triad
From Takao, Akiruno-shi, Tokyo, Muromachi period, dated 1457

From the Kamakura period (1192–1333), political power shifted from the aristocracy to the warrior class. Society and culture began to reflect the tastes and lifestyles of these new rulers, while towns were built around their castle compounds throughout Japan.

New sects of Buddhism also gained popularity in the Kamakura period. One of these was the Zen sect, which was accepted into warrior society. Tea drinking, which spread through Zen, was valued by the warrior class for providing a means for social interaction. Meanwhile, tea utensils became highly valued as symbols of prestige among the warriors. Chinese ceramics became especially prized, and local kilns such as the ones in Seto (present-day Aichi prefecture) began producing ceramics in imitation of them. These ceramics were also created for storing the remains of deceased individuals.

Itabi were stone tablets resembling gravestones, which were created to pray for the repose of deceased individuals. Beginning in the mid-Kamakura period, they were created throughout Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Kagoshima in the south, although most of them were concentrated in the Kanto region around present-day Tokyo. Many of these tablets are similar in form and are thought to have deep connections with warriors of the Kanto region.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 7 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Highlight Itabi with Sanskrit Characters Symbolizing Amitabha Triad From Takao, Akiruno-shi, Tokyo Muromachi period, dated 1457 (Kousho 3) J-25150
Highlight Important Cultural Property Ewer, White porcelain Jingdezhen ware, China, From Minamishiga-cho, Otsu-shi, Shiga Kamakura Period, 13th-14th century (Northern Song dynasty, 11th century) Lent by Omi-jingu, Shiga
Important Cultural Property Celadon Bowl with carved lotus petals From Omachi., Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa Kamakura period, 13th-14th century (Southern Song dynasty, 13th century) J-36933-1
Highlight Cinerary Urn China, Excavated from Maeda, Ibaraki-machi, Ibaraki Southern Song dynasty, 13th century J-25316
Itabi with Sanskrit Character Symbolizing Amitabha From Mineoka-cho, Hodogaya-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Kamakura period, dated 1295 (Einin 3) Gift of Mr. Umehara Tamekichi, J-25211
Pagoda Kamakura period, 12th-13th century J-25321
Highlight National Treasure Jar with Autumn Glasses Found in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Heian period, 12th century Lent by Keio University, Tokyo