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Twin Peaks : The Finest of Chinese and Japanese Calligraphy

  • Image of "Left : Rubbing of stele inscription, "Preface of the Lanting Gathering", Ding Wu version(Detail)  Right : Poem anthology, Bai-shi-wen-ji(Detail)"

    Left : Rubbing of stele inscription, "Preface of the Lanting Gathering", Ding Wu version(Detail)

    Right : Poem anthology, Bai-shi-wen-ji(Detail)

    Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibition (Heiseikan) Special Exhibition Galleries
    January 11, 2006 (Wed) - February 19, 2006 (Sun)

    In this unique exhibition, works by Wang Xizhi, Ouyang Xun, Su Shi, Kukai, Ono no Tofu, Hon'ami Koetsu, Ryokan and others transcend time and distance to appear together in one showing.

 General Information
Period Wednesday, January 11 - Sunday, February 19, 2006
Venue Heiseikan, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)
Hours 9:30 - 17:00 (last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed Monday
Admissions Adult 1,400 (1200/1100)yen, University students 1,000 (900/800) yen, High school students 900 (800/700) yen, Jr. high school students and under free
* Prices shown in ( ) indicate advance-discount/group (more than 20 persons) tickets.
* Persons with a disability are allowed free entry with one companion. Valid identification requested upon entry.
* Advance tickets are on sale from November 11, 2005 at the Museum ticket office (during museum hours) and JR East Reserved Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi), Ticket Pia and other major ticket offices.
Access 10 minutes' walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15 minutes' walk from Keisei Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Nezu station.
Organizers Tokyo National Museum; Asahi Shimbun; TV Asahi; Shanghai Museum
With the Assistance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Agency for Cultural Affairs; Embassy of the People's Republic of China; Kanagawa Prefectural Board of Education; Saitama Prefectural Board of Education; Chiba Prefectural Board of Education; Taito Ward, Tokyo, Board of Education.
With the Special Sponsorship of   Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
With the Cooperation of Nissay Dowa General Insurance Co., Ltd.; All Nippon Airways
General Inquiries +81-3-3822-1111
Exhibition Homepage http://www.asahi.com/sho/ (asahi.com : In Japanese)
  Accompanying the "Twin Peaks" exhibition
Japanese Calligraphy in the Showa and Heisei Eras
Room T3, Honkan & Thematic Exhibition Room, Heiseikan
Wednesday, January 11 - Sunday, February 19, 2006
* Tickets for the "Twin Peaks" exhibition are valid for this exhibition also. For admission to this exhibition only, the Museum's regular admission fee must be paid.
 Next Venue
Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Calligraphy (provisional title)
Shanghai Museum, China    March 13 - April 23, 2006.
 Major Works on Display  *Rotations of works are scheduled during the exhibition period.
Japanese Calligraphy
  Letters (known as "Fushin-jo")
By Kukai
National Treasure
Ink on paper
Heian period, 9th century
Kyoogokokuji, Kyoto
Poems of Bai Le-tian
Other photos
  Poems of Bai Le-tian
By Fujiwara no Kozei
National Treasure
Handscroll, Ink on paper
Heian Period, 11th century
Tokyo National Museum
(On Exhibit 11 - 29 January, 2006)
Poem anthology &Kokin Waka Shu&, Gen'ei version
Other photos
  Poem anthology "Kokin Waka Shu", Gen'ei version
By Fujiwara no Sadazane
National Treasure
Two books, Ink on decorated paper
Heian Period, 12th century
Tokyo National Museum
(Exhibited pages will change every week during exhibition period)
  Name, "Bai-kei"
By Shuho Myocho
Important Cultural Property
Ink on paper
Kamakura period, 14th century
The Gotoh Museum, Tokyo
Poems with printed ground decoration
  Poems with printed ground decoration
By Hon'ami Koetsu
Handscroll, Ink on decorated Paper
Azuchi-Momoyama-Edo period, 17th century
Tokyo National Museum
(On Exhibit 11 - 29 January, 2006)
Chinese Calligraphy
Rubbing of stele inscription,
  Rubbing of stele inscription, "Shiguwen"
Ink on paper
Warring states period, 5th - 4th century B.C.
Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo
(On Exhibit 11 - 29 January, 2006)
Chinese style poems of Li Bai in running script
  Chinese style poems of Li Bai in running script
By Su Shi
Important Cultural Property
Ink on paper
Northern Song dynasty, dated 1093
Osaka Municipal Museum of Art
(On Exhibit 11 - 29 January, 2006)
Copy of
  Copy of "Ya Tou Wan tie"
Original by Wang Xianzhi
Ink on paper
Original: Eastern Jin dynasty, 4th century
Shanghai Museum, China
Ku Sun Tie
  Ku Sun Tie
By Huai Su
Handscroll, cursive script, ink on silk
Tang dynasty, 8th period
Shanghai Museum, China
Rubbing of stele inscription,
  Rubbing of stele inscription, "Preface of the Lanting Gathering", Ding Wu version
Original by Wang Xizhi
Ink on paper
Eastern Jin dynasty, dated 353
Tokyo National Museum
(On Exhibit January 31 - February 29, 2006)
Enjoying Calligraphy    
There are many different aspects to calligraphy: the content of what is written; the skill or otherwise of the calligraphy as such; the significance of the work's transmission to the present.

Unfortunately, some people seem to shun calligraphy on the grounds that, for example, the characters are too stylized or deformed for them to be read easily, or that the poems or prose thus written are difficult to understand. However, the appreciation of calligraphy is not solely a matter of reading the script or correctly interpreting the Chinese-style poems or the prose that they represent.

Calligraphy presents a variety of beauties: of form, of the flow of the brush-strokes, of the spatial disposition of the characters and their relationship to the space surrounding them. There is also the attraction of the materials used -the paper, and the varying hues of black ink. Besides this, there is the incidental beauty created in the forms of the ideograms and the overall effect when they are written in a continuous flow, as well as by the spreading of the ink or the gradual drying of the ink on the brush, and by the varying pressure of the brushwork. Yet another characteristic of calligraphy is that, by tracing the successive strokes of the brush, one can experience for oneself something of the esthetic emotions of the calligrapher at each moment. One does not necessarily have to apprehend every element of a work at the same time -there is plenty to savor, even in a single aspect.

The specimens of calligraphy from the past that survive today have done so because of their significance in religion, literature, education, or everyday life. There is pleasure, surely, in contemplating this miracle whereby they have been preserved for a thousand years -sometimes, even, since before the beginning of the Christian era. Appreciation of calligraphy transcends its age; at the same time, the work of each individual calligrapher clearly shows the special characteristics and atmosphere of the period in which he lived. Careful contemplation also reveals subtle differences between the calligraphies of Japan and China -the lyricism, whimsicality and intuitiveness of the former, the architectural quality, massiveness and logical strength of the latter.

Calligraphy is rated as accomplished or otherwise for various reasons. But the most important quality in a successful work is a certain sense of grace and dignity. An air of distinction and individuality are the principal charms of the art. "Calligraphy is the man," the saying goes, and the works of those calligraphers whose names have gone down in history are faithful reflections of particular personalities. The best way to enjoy a piece of calligraphy is to contemplate it unhurriedly so as to realize within oneself, as one traces its rhythms, the attitude to life and the esthetic emotions experienced by the author in creating it.