Heiseikan Thematic Exhibition Room
April 12, 2016 (Tue) - May 22, 2016 (Sun)
Tigers, with their striped fur, belong to the cat family. Though their skeletons and behavior are similar to cats, they are fierce, carnivorous animals with bodies as long as three meters. Tigers were feared and were thought to have special power. They even appear in Chinese legends as the rivals of dragons.
From long ago, paintings with tigers have also been popular in Japan. But, because tigers do not inhabit Japan, no one knew what they were really like. It seems that at first tigers were brought to Japan as gifts for emperors and military rulers. It was around 150 years ago when real tigers were seen by many people in Japan. Being foreign animals, tigers were taken around to different parts of Japan to appear in shows and circuses, and later, zoos were built. Before that, the people of Japan could only imagine tigers based on paintings, stories, or tiger fur from overseas. Tigers that look just like cats were also drawn back then.
Artworks featuring tigers from Japan and other Asian counties have been brought together for this exhibition. While some tigers look like imaginary animals, others are quite realistic. Other animals, such as leopards, lions, and cats, are also featured. Take a close look at these “feline friends of tigers,” who are expressive even to their tails!
This exhibition is held in conjunction with this year’s annual commemorative event for International Museum Day, “In Search of Tigers on Ueno Hill” (scheduled for May 15; advanced booking required). This event is organized jointly by three institutions in Ueno Park: Ueno Zoological Gardens, the National Museum of Nature and Science, and the Tokyo National Museum.