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Special Exhibition Celebrating the 900th Anniversary of Its Construction:
The Golden Hall of Chūson-ji Temple

  • Image of "The Buddha AmidaHeian period, 12th century; lent by the Kondō-in of Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate Prefecture (National Treasure)"

    The Buddha Amida
    Heian period, 12th century; lent by the Kondō-in of Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate Prefecture (National Treasure)

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T5
    January 23, 2024 (Tue) - April 14, 2024 (Sun)

    This exhibition commemorates the 900th anniversary of the construction of the Golden Hall of Chūson-ji Temple, the roof of which was raised in 1124. The exhibition will display the eleven Buddhist statues — all designated as National Treasures — enshrined in the center of the Golden Hall. It will also feature many brilliant examples of the decorative arts, foremost of which is the Flower Garland with Kalaviṅka, a gilt-bronze ornament that formerly adorned the Golden Hall.

    Moreover, a full-size reproduction of the splendid Golden Hall — the site of devout prayer and worship for 900 years — will be presented using 8K technology. We invite you to join us and experience the cultural heritage of Hiraizumi, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the home of the Golden Hall.

Highlights of the Exhibition


See All Eleven Buddhist Statues from the Central Altar On View in a Historic First

Three altars are inside the Golden Hall. Each one holds a coffin containing human remains. The coffin in the central altar houses the remains of Fujiwara no Kiyohira, the founder of the Ōshū Fujiwara clan and the local ruler who commissioned the hall’s construction. As such, the central altar is the most significant of the three. There are eleven Buddhist sculptures enshrined on top of it, each of which is a National Treasure, and all eleven will be on view in the gallery. This is a historic first, as the statues have never been exhibited outside the temple grounds. Adornments that once decorated the inside of the hall will also be on display.


Amida Triad

Center: Seated Buddha Amida

Left: Standing Bodhisattva Seishi

Right: Standing Bodhisattva Kannon

Heian period, 12th century, Konjiki-in, Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate (National Treasures)

The buddha Amida (Sk. Amitābha) sits in the center, his hands in front of his waist in a gesture of meditation with his thumbs lightly touching (Sk. dhānamudrā). The bodhisattvas Seishi (Sk. Mahāsthāmaprāpta) and Kannon (Sk. Avalokiteśvara) stand in front of him to the left and right. All three statues are covered in gold. Their serene, gentle expressions and full, rounded cheeks are distinct stylistic features.

The three altars inside the Golden Hall have probably enshrined a changing array of statues across the centuries, but scholars believe these three were continuously enshrined on the central altar since the hall’s founding. If the statues date to when Kiyohira constructed the hall, they are evidence that Buddhist sculptures in northeastern Japan at the time rivaled those of the very best Buddhist sculptors in Kyoto.

The statues are invaluable historical materials that attest to the heights to which Hiraizumi climbed as a cultural center under the rule of the Ōshū Fujiwara clan.



Bodhisattva Jizō

Standing Bodhisattva Jizō
Heian period, 12th century, Konjiki-in, Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate (National Treasures)



Two Devas

Left: Standing Deva Zōchōten
Right: Standing Deva Jikokuten
Heian period, 12th century, Konjiki-in, Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate (National Treasures)


With their arms swung upward and their hips thrust sideways, these statues of the devas Zōchōten (Sk. Virūḍ haka) and Jikokuten (Sk. Dhṛ tarāṣ ṭ ra) are alive with dynamic energy. The renderings of their clearly defined faces and billowing sleeves are particularly impressive. The Kei school of Buddhist sculptors (based in Nara) became especially known for figures sculpted in the midst of wild movements during the Kamakura period (1192–1333). However, these statues from northeastern Japan reveal a pioneering sense of sculptural form that predates those activities.



“Flower Garland” Ornament

“Flower Garland” Ornament with Kalaviṅka
Heian period, 12th century, Konjiki-in, Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate (National Treasures)


Metal ornaments modeled on actual flower garlands are used to adorn the interiors of Buddhist temple buildings. This ornament features birds with human heads called kalaviṅka, which live in the Pure Land of the buddha Amida. The scrolling floral vines rendered in openwork also include mythical blooms (called hōsōge) that blossom in the Pure Land. The ornament was originally suspended from a beam between the upper parts of the pillars in the Golden Hall. It and other objects from the hall’s interior have profound historical significance, as they preserve the original forms of adornments placed inside temple buildings during the Heian period (794–1192).



The Chūson-ji Canon

The Tripitaka in Chūson-ji Canon (detail)
Heian period, 12th century, Daichōju-in, Chūson-ji Temple, Iwate (National Treasures)


This set of the entire Chinese Buddhist canon was copied out on scrolls in alternating lines of gold and silver ink. The frontispieces on this unique collection have gold and silver paintings depicting scenes from the sacred sutras. As a whole, the set is commonly called the Chūson-ji Canon (or Chūson-ji Sutras). Scholars have established that the decorated paper was procured from Kyoto, and the paintings on the frontispieces were presumably made by the most skilled artists of the period. Fujiwara no Kiyohira commissioned the set’s meticulous creation over a period of eight years. The scrolls were originally stored in the sutra repository in front of the Golden Hall.



The Golden Hall Recreated at Full-Scale in Ultra-High Definition 8K CG

*Concept image
Perspective drawing of 8K CG image ©NHK

At the exhibition, the Golden Hall will be recreated in its actual dimensions on a large screen measuring close to 7 meters wide and 4 meters tall (approx. 23 ft. x 13 ft.). This recreation in ultra-high-definition computer graphics (CG) was made using 8K digital images of the Golden Hall and its interior, including its Buddhist statues. Called 8K CG, this digital archiving method was jointly developed by NHK and the Tokyo National Museum and allows cultural masterpieces to be captured in true-to-life detail. At the actual site in Hiraizumi, the Golden Hall is only viewable through glass. However, this exhibition uses 8K CG to take visitors on a virtual tour inside the hall, giving them a close-up look at the radiant paradise the hall’s creators envisioned when they imagined the Buddhist Pure Land. These beautiful, powerful images will allow visitors to immerse themselves as never before in the hall’s sacred golden spaces that have inspired prayer and devotion for 900 years.



General Information

Period January 23–April 14, 2024
Venue Japanese Gallery (Honkan), Room T5, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)
Hours 9:30–17:00
Open until 19:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.
*Last admission 30 minutes before closing.
Closed Mondays (Except February 12 and March 25) and February 13

Visitors can view this exhibition without making reservations. Tickets may also be purchased at the ticket counter, but you may be asked to wait if the exhibition is crowded.

Adults: ¥1,600 (¥1,400)
University students: ¥900 (¥700)
High school students: ¥600 (¥500)
Junior high school students and under: Free

  • *Prices in parentheses indicate discount ticket prices for advance purchase.
  • *Persons with disabilities are admitted free with one accompanying person each (please present an ID at the ticket booth).
  • *Visitors with tickets for this exhibition may also view the regular exhibitions on the day of their visit at no extra charge.
  • *Advance tickets are available for purchase at museum ticket booths (during museum opening hours, excluding the last 30 minutes) and other major ticketing agencies from November 13, 2023 to January 22, 2024.
Access 10-minute walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15-minute walk from Keisei Ueno Station, Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Nezu Station
Organizers Tokyo National Museum, Chūson-ji Temple, NHK, NHK Promotions, the Japan Arts Council, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs
With the Assistance of The Tendai School of Buddhism, Iwate Prefecture, and Hiraizumi Town
With the Sponsorship of SGC, MITSUMURA PRINTING Co., Ltd.
Catalog The exhibition catalog (2,800 yen) is available at the Honkan Special Exhibition Shop and at the museum shop in Honkan (Japanese Gallery).
General Inquiries 050-5541-8600 (Hello Dial)
Exhibition Website https://chusonji2024.jp/en/