General Information

Exhibition dates are subject to change and visitors numbers may be limited in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Exhibition Title Special Exhibition in Celebration of the Emperor's Enthronement
Treasures from the Imperial Palace
Period October 10–November 23, 2020

The exhibition has two installations:
Part I: October 10 – November 1, 2020
Part II: November 3 – November 23, 2020
Venue Kyoto National Museum, Heisei Chishinkan Wing
Transportation JR, Kintetsu Railway, Keihan Railway, Hankyu Railway, City Bus
Closed Mondays except Novemver 23 (national holiday), 2020
Special Exhibition Hours 9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (Entrance until 5:30 p.m.)
*Evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays have been cancelled.
Special Exhibition Admission     
General Campus Members
Adult 1,800 yen 1,600 yen
University Student 1,200 yen 700 yen
High School Student 700 yen 200 yen
  • Campus members, university students, and high-school students with discounted tickets must show ID at the entrance.
  • There are no group discounts or advance purchase discounts.
  • Campus members are the only possible adult discounts.
  • Free admission is available for the following groups only (with ID):
    • Middle school students and younger
    • Visitors with disabilities and one caretaker,
    • Complimentary ticket holders
    • Seifūkai (patron circle) members
    • Special patrons and supporting members of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage
Timed entry tickets for the Kyoto National Museum special exhibition Treasures from the Imperial Palace must now be reserved online. Please purchase your ticket in advance on the exhibition website specifying your date and time of entry.

Tickets for Part I: On sale 10:00 am Friday, Sep. 25
Tickets for Part II: On sale 10:00 am Friday, Oct. 20
How to Reserve and Purchase Tickets Online (English)

Official Website
(In Japanese only)

  • Visitors eligible for free admission still must reserve timed entry tickets (select "timed entry reservation").
  • For those unable to reserve online, there will be a few same-day spots available for sale at the museum. These will be sold on a first-come first-serve basis. Same-day tickets will also be timed, so holders may have to wait to be admitted into the museum.
  • No museum re-entry allowed after exiting the museum grounds (including entering the museum café or the museum shop next to the south gate).
Audio Guide Fee 600 yen (includes tax)
Time approx. 30 min
Language Japanese, English
9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m.
Catalogue 2,800 yen. 256 pages. 98 objects. Color plates.
Available at the Museum Shop
Catalogues of Past Special Exhibitions
Organized by Kyoto National Museum, Imperial Household Agency, The Yomiuri Shimbun, NHK Kyoto Station, NHK Enterprises, Inc. Osaka Branch Office
With the support of Iwatani Corporation, Kinden Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd., Panasonic Corporation, Non-Destructive Inspection Co., Ltd.

Images from the Exhibit

In 2019, with the enthronement of the emperor and empress, Japan formally entered into the new Reiwa era. This special exhibition commemorates this celebratory occasion with works from the ancient capital of Kyoto, home to Japan's rich imperial court culture. The exhibition also features masterworks from the Museum of Imperial Collections, the Sannomaru Shōzōkan.

Part I. Masterpieces of Calligraphy and Painting from the Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shōzōkan

The works of art in the Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shōzōkan, were acquired through various channels, as the imperial family accumulated objects gradually over successive generations of sovereigns. Though diverse in provenance, the masterpieces of painting and calligraphy in the imperial holdings include both objects owned and used by the court up through the Edo period (1615–1868) as well as works presented for collection by the imperial household since the Meiji period (1868–1912).
Part I of the exhibition introduces these works in four sections: "The Power of Calligraphy," "Stories Spun in Pictures," "Admiration for Chinese Painting," and "The Flowering of Early Modern Painting."

The Power of Calligraphy

From the renowned ancient Chinese calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303–361) to the master calligraphers of the Heian period (794–1185) to famous historical figures, the shades and shapes of ink traced by their writings reveal not only the meaning of the words, but also the character of the person holding the brush.

Stories Spun in Pictures

Untie an illustrated handscroll and roll it open, and alternating sections of text and painting reveal themselves before you.
A story evolves as you move through the scroll section by section, holding it open between both hands—an intensely personal viewing experience. The intricately colored imagery unfurling before your eyes can sometimes take your breath away.

Admiration for Chinese Painting

For Japan, surrounded by ocean on four sides, the culture brought over from the Asian continent always held great attraction. Paintings from China and Korea were not only appreciated in their own right, but they were copied and referenced by generations of artists.

The Flowering of Early Modern Painting

The Momoyama (1573–1615) and Edo (1615–1868) periods gave rise to painters of extraordinary individualism and talent. Such artists demonstrated their prowess through folding screens and massive hanging scrolls that, when put on view, had the ability to instantly transform the atmosphere of a room.

Part II. The Colors and Forms of the Imperial Palace

On October 22, 2019 (Reiwa 1), the enthronement ceremony for the new emperor took place with great solemnity at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.
Though few people still remember it, the enthronement of the Shōwa Emperor in 1928 took place not in Tokyo but at the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Though that was the last time accession ceremonies took place in the ancient capital, for centuries before then life in Kyoto had centered around the emperor, punctuated by recurring rituals, festivities, and annual events.
This part of the exhibition introduces daily life in the Kyoto Imperial Palace through various works of art, offering a firsthand glimpse into a world that no longer exists today. It is divided into four themes: "Enthronement Scenes," "Learning in Chinese, Creating in Japanese," "Portraits of Emperors and the Elegance of Imperial Style," and "The Stage for Courtly Tales."

Enthronement Scenes

Clothed in brilliant red sokutai regalia, the emperor dons a crown decorated with gold and jewels. Through paintings and costumes, we trace past scenes of enthronement at the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which differ from the recent Reiwa accession ceremonies.

Learning in Chinese, Creating in Japanese

The culture of Japan developed through the study of Chinese culture, arts, and learning combined with an aesthetic sensibility rooted in Japanese native customs. This confluence of Japanese and Chinese cultures and the appreciation for both shine through in poetry and calligraphy.

Portraits of Emperors and the Elegance of Imperial Style

The emperor's position has changed with the times, but the role of an elegant sovereign at the helm of Japanese culture has remained consistent throughout the ages. In this section, we trace this regal character through various objects including imperial portraiture and writings brushed by emperors themselves.

The Stage for Courtly Tales

The imperial palace was the setting for courtly narrative literature such as The Tale of Genji. Inside was the Higyōsha, also called the Fujitsubo—the part of the empress's quarters in the imperial palace where the women pining after the Shining rince Genji resided. Through slidingdoor (fusuma) paintings and furnishings, we sneak a peek at the inner palace forbidden to all but a select few.

A Message to Museum Visitors

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