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The Digital Gallery of Hōryūji Treasures


    The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures Interactive exhibition space
    January 31, 2023 (Tue) - July 30, 2023 (Sun)

    In The Digital Gallery of Hōryūji Treasures, visitors can examine and interact with digital reproductions of historic objects from the temple that cannot be kept on permanent exhibit. Reproductions on graphic panels and a massive 8K monitor give visitors the opportunity to authentically experience these works of art and the freedom to study them down to their smallest detail. The exhibit will focus on the National Treasure Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku starting on January 31st, 2023, followed by the Murals in the Kondō Hall on August 1st. Other replicas reconstruct what Gigaku masks and costumes may have looked like in their heyday, offering a window into the colorful world of this performing art, which once enthralled people.

Highlights of the Exhibition


Graphic Panel: The National Treasure “Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku

Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku
By Hata no Chitei, Heian period, 1069 (The National Treasure)

The National Treasure Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku is a series of paintings that once adorned the inner walls of the Hall of Paintings at Hōryūji Temple. These ten large panels depict fifty-seven of Prince Shōtoku’s exploits. Created by Hata no Chitei in 1069, during the Heian period, they are the oldest paintings that chronicle the prince’s life and deeds, and they exemplify the early Yamato-e style of classical Japanese painting. But time has taken a considerable toll on the Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku, and the fine details are no longer visible to the naked eye.


Cultural Properties in 8K: The National Treasure Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku

8Kで文化財 国宝「聖徳太子絵伝」操作画面の写真

Cultural Properties in 8K presents ultrahigh-resolution images of this priceless painting on a large 8K monitor. Each 1.9-by-1.5-meter painting in the illustrated biography was photographed in twenty-eight sections, which were then recombined to create 1.8 billion pixels of data per painting. The application processes two panels—3.6 billion pixels of data—in real time as viewers explore the painting at their own pace on a 70-inch 8K monitor.

Production: National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties (CPCP), NHK Educational Corporation
Available in Japanese and English


Gigaku, with Reconstructed Masks and Costumes

復元模造 伎楽面・伎楽装束の写真

Gigaku, a form of masked, outdoor performance, reached Japan from mainland Asia during the Asuka period (593–710). The fifth painting in the National Treasure Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku shows the prince assembling youths to learn this art. Their teacher, a performer named Mimashi, studied Gigaku while living in what is now China before he returned to Japan via the Korean peninsula in 612, during the reign of Empress Suiko. Gigaku declined in the Heian period (794–1192) and is now known only through written records and inscriptions on masks.

The Hōryūji Temple treasures in the Tokyo National Museum’s collection include thirty-one Gigaku masks. Although the Shōsōin Imperial Repository and Tōdaiji Temple in Nara preserve other examples, most date from the Nara period (710–794). Only the Hōryūji collection includes masks made in the Asuka period. The Tokyo National Museum and the National Center for the Promotion of Cultural Properties collaborated to create replicas of two Gigaku masks in 2019, and two costumes in 2021, consulting surviving records to recreate what these items originally looked like.


details (CPCP Website)