Past Special Feature

Feature Exhibition: Treasures of Hyakumanben Chion-ji Temple
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - Sunday, September 9, 2018
The temple of Chion-ji, located at the Hyakumanben intersection on the east side of Kyoto, is one of the seven major Pure Land (Jōdo Shū) Buddhist temples established by the sect's founding priest Hōnen (1133–1212). The name Chion-ji, "Temple of Wisdom and Blessings," came from its second abbot Genchi (1183–1239). Chion-ji is home to numerous important works of art, including the Chinese masterpiece Liu Haichan and Li Tieguai, by Yuan-dynasty painter Yan Hui, which is an Important Cultural Property of Japan. This exhibition includes findings from the Kyoto National Museum's recent inventory of Chion-ji's collections. Enjoy the artistic treasures of Pure Land Buddhism, a religious tradition with deep roots in Kyoto.
Feature Exhibition: An Introduction to the Mysteries of Japanese Art
Saturday, July 21, 2018 - Sunday, September 2, 2018
Enormous dragons and tigers cover the walls and sliding doors of temples. Kimonos are elegantly decorated with pine, bamboo, and plum. Are these just appealing designs, or do all these animals and plants mean something? This exhibition will give visitors of all ages and nationalities, regardless of previous knowledge, a basic introduction to some of the most commonly found designs in Japanese art. Unlocking these mysteries and discover a fascinating new world to explore!
Feature Exhibition: New Acquisitions
Tuesday, June 12, 2018- Monday, July 16, 2018
This feature exhibition highlights some of the finest works of art newly acquired by the Kyoto National Museum between January 2010 and March 2017. The public display of these hitherto unseen treasures was long delayed due to the construction of the Heisei Chishinkan Wing. This is the first exhibition of new acquisitions in seven years, and we think it will have been worth the wait!
The diverse variety of masterworks on view include the 7th century Tang dynasty National Treasure calligraphy Book of Han, Biography of Yang Xiong, Vol. 57 and Square Dishes with the Chinese Monk Poets Hanshan (Kanzan) and Shide (Jittoku), produced jointly by Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) and his brother Kenzan (1663–1743).
Feature Exhibition: The Doll Festival and Japanese Ningyō
Tue. Feb. 20, 2018 - Sun. Mar. 20, 2018
Hina dolls are associated with the Doll Festival, or Hina Matsuri, which takes place around March 3rd each year. Though widely considered to be an ancient ritual, the tradition of displaying and celebrating dolls on a specific day dates only to the early 1600s, in the Edo period. Some types of Edo period hina dolls are named after the time periods with which they are associated, as in the Kan’ei bina dolls (named after the Kan’ei era, 1624–1645) or Kyōho bina dolls (after the Kyōhō era, 1716–1736). The Jirozaemon bina dolls are named after a Kyoto doll maker, Jirōzaemon. The kokin bina dolls are considered to be a new Edo period innovation, while the yūsoku bina courtier dolls faithfully represent the costume and hair conventions of the aristocracy. Also on view are other types such as Saga, Gosho, Kamo, and Fushimi ningyō (dolls), which are named after geographic locales in Kyoto. This extensive selection of dolls offers the opportunity carefully at differences in their details, including facial expressions, gestures, and costumes.
Feature Exhibition; Hidden Treasures from a Merchant's Storehouse: The Hiromi Collection, a Legacy of Elegant Living
Sat. Feb. 3, 2018 - Sun. Mar. 20, 2018
The Hiromi family is an old merchant family in the city of Kaizuka, in Osaka (not far from Kansai Airport). Their family business, established in 1835, was a shipping brokerage (kaisen don'ya) for the rice trade. Thereafter, they added a variety of other divisions including fertilizer, stock investment, and bank management, which not only grew the family assets but also contributed to the development of modern industry in the region. Their spacious estate includes a 34 meter-wide machiya, a tea house, and four earthen storehouses (kura) filled with a vast treasure trove of artworks—painting and calligraphy, tea utensils, furnishings, and other luxurious objects. These long hidden treasures, including works by Itō Jakuchū, Shiba Kōkan, Shibata Zeshin, and others, have been discovered in recent years and donated to the Kyoto National Museum for preservation, study, and exhibition to the public.
Feature Exhibition; Aristocratic Costumes and Furnishings: The Revival of Imperial Palace Culture
Tue. Dec. 19, 2017 - Sun. Jan. 28, 2018
The classical culture of the Japanese court and aristocracy was established during the Heian period (794–1185). Its lavish traditions were somewhat modified and simplified amidst the wars and social upheaval of the medieval age that followed, but it had a revival in the Edo period (1615–1868), when Japan again settled into an age of peace and seclusion. From then on, the court conducted much research into the intricacies of protocol pertaining to dress and ceremony in Japan’s classical era. This exhibition features aristocratic costumes, furnishings, and other materials in the Kyoto National Museum, many originally from the collection of the Imperial Palace, which exemplify the early modern and modern period classical revival of imperial culture.
Feature Exhibition; Puppies Galore: Celebrating the Year of the Dog
Tue. Dec. 19, 2017 - Sun. Jan. 21, 2018
2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Dogs are sociable creatures closely interconnected with human life. In Japan, canine presence is particularly old in the realm of hunting. Records tell us that the ancient Emperor Ōjin (200–310 CE) had a hunting dog named Manashiro for which he constructed a special tomb after it died. The other kind of canine long beloved in Japan is the toy-sized Chin, typically kept as an indoor pet. Today, the standardized Japanese Chin has a short nose, flat face, and long black and white fur. This breed did not actually originate in Japan, though its history in this country is in fact quite ancient. Short-nosed dogs originating in Tibet were brought to Japan by at least the Nara period (710–794). In the Edo period (1615–1868), the term Chin was used to refer not only to these small lapdogs but also to terriers with longer snouts. We hope that dog lovers from around the world will enjoy to this exhibition exploring the age-old relationships between all kinds of Japanese canines and their humans. Here, as in countries all over the world, dogs have provided amusement and delight for centuries.
Exhibition Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Meiji Restoration The Battle of Toba Fushimi
Tue. July 25, 2017 - Sun. Sept. 3, 2017
The lunar New Year of 1868 began with a battle that would burn down much of present-day southern Kyoto even as it ushered in a new modern age known as the Meiji period (1868–1912). Protecting the newly restored imperial government were the forces of the Satsuma-Chōshū alliance. Attempting to topple the new regime and reinstate the former Tokugawa shogunate were the shogunal forces, who marched north toward the capital from Osaka. These two sides clashed in what is now known as the Battle of Toba Fushimi in an area south of Kyoto. This exhibition commemorates the milestone 150th anniversary of the transfer of power from the shogunate to the emperor with artworks and archival materials related to the pivotal battle that defined the course of Japanese history.
Feature Exhibition: Aquarium at the Kyoto National Museum: What Kind of Fish Can You Find?
Tue. July 25, 2017 - Sun. Sept. 3, 2017
This summer, the galleries of the Kyoto National Museum will transform into an artistic aquarium! Organized together with the Kyoto Aquarium, this is the museum’s first exhibition oriented specifically towards young people. How have human beings interacted with fish? How have we imagined underwater life? From familiar fish to legendary sea creatures, this exhibition provides an opportunity to explore a wide variety of aquatic life. Bring your family and come see all the fish living at the Kyoto National Museum.
Feature Exhibition: The Connoisseur’s Eye: Painting and Calligraphy from the Ban Minoru Collection
Tue. June 13, 2017 - Sun. July 23, 2017
Last year, 47 works from the collection of the late Mr. Minoru Ban were donated to museum at the behest of his family. Mr. Ban collected for over fifty years, focusing primarily on calligraphy, and created a collection which continues to gain accolades after his death. The love Mr. Ban had for these pieces is apparent, visible through meticulously selected remountings and other details of the pieces’ state and conservation. In this exhibition, we are pleased to present exemplary works from the collection of this dedicated and passionate connoisseur.
Feature Exhibition: The Doll Festival and Japanese Ningyō
Sat. Feb. 18, 2017 - Mon. Mar. 20, 2017
Hina dolls are associated with the Doll Festival, or hina matsuri, which takes place around March 3rd each year. Though widely considered to be an ancient ritual, the tradition of displaying and celebrating dolls on a specific day dates only to the early 1600s, in the Edo period. Some types of Edo period hina dolls are named after the time periods with which they are associated, as in the kan’ei bina dolls (named after the Kan’ei era, 1624–1645) or kyōho bina dolls (after the Kyōhō era, 1716–1736). The jirozaemon bina dolls are named after a Kyoto doll maker, Jirōzaemon. The kokin bina dolls are considered to be a new Edo period innovation, while the yūsoku bina courtier dolls faithfully represent the costume and hair conventions of the aristocracy. This extensive selection of dolls offers the opportunity carefully at differences in their details, including facial expressions, gestures, and costumes.
Feature Exhibition: Blades of Brilliance: Celebrated Japanese Swords from the Naga Fujikazu Collection
Tue. June 13, 2017 - Sun. July 17, 2017
During the twentieth century, Naga Fujikazu was perhaps the foremost Japanese sword collector in the Kansai region. Though professionally prominent as a medical doctorate in the pharmaceuticals industry, Naga was also widely known as a passionate connoisseur of celebrated historical blades . This exhibition, a comprehensive assemblage of the famous swords in his collection, reveals Naga’s discriminating taste, his erudite knowledge, and his enduring passion for the finest Japanese swords.
Feature Exhibit: The Newly Conserved Standing Zaō Gongen Sculpture of Sanbutsu-ji Temple, Tottori
Tue. January 17, 2017 - Sun. February 19, 2017
Mitokusan Sanbutsu-ji Temple, in the town of Misasa, is one of the most venerable temples in Tottori prefecture. It is said to have been founded during the Nara period in 706 by En no Gyōja, originator of the syncretic, mountain-worshiping religion of Shugendō. Its inner sanctuary, the Nageiro-dō Hall, is built on a sheer cliff face and is designated as a National Treasure. Numerous Zaō Gongen sculptures were formerly enshrined here (gongen means “incarnation” and is the syncretic concept of a Buddhist deity appearing in the form of a Shinto kami). Today seven of these, the temple’s main object of worship and six subsidiary statues, are kept in the Treasure Hall at the mountain’s foot. All are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan, and two of them were just restored at the Kyoto National Museum’s Conservation Center for Cultural Properties. Please take this rare opportunity to view one of them in this feature exhibit celebrating the completion of their conservation.
Feature Exhibition: Sennyū ji, Imperial Temple
Tue. December 13, 2016 - Sun. February 5, 2017
The vast complex of Sennyū-ji in Kyoto’s Eastern Hills was founded eight centuries ago by the priest Shunjō (1166–1227). Its name, literally “temple of the bubbling spring,” derives from the fresh spring water source within the temple precincts. While Sennyū-ji has long attracted worshipers from all parts of Japanese society, it has especially deep connections with Japan’s imperial family, as evidenced by the nickname Mi-dera, or “Imperial Temple.” This exhibition highlights calligraphy, painting, sculpture, and other objects from Sennyū-ji that exemplify its long and distinguished history.
Feature Exhibition; Early Birds: Celebrating the Year of the Rooster
Tue. December 13, 2016 - Sun. January 15, 2017
2017 is the Year of the Rooster according to the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The rooster, which signals the break of day, has traditionally been associated with the sun, believed to chase away darkness and evil with its crowing. But roosters and chickens are only some of the many, varied representations of avian creatures featured in this exhibition. The theme of “birds and flowers” is in fact one of the most popular subject matters in East Asian art. Start the 2017 New Year off right by “catching the worm” with an early visit to the Kyoto National Museum, and surround yourself with the exquisite and diverse images of birds in Japanese and East Asian art.
300th Anniversary Feature Exhibition: Itō Jakuchū
Tue. December 13, 2016 - Sun. January 15, 2017
The eighteenth century Kyoto painter Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800) is famous for his exquisite renditions of birds and flowers, but most exceptional among them are his paintings of chickens and roosters. While lesser known, Jakuchū also produced a small number of figure paintings. He employed a wide range of styles, from delicate renderings in color to bold, forceful works in monochrome ink. In 2016, various major exhibitions commemorate the 300th anniversary of Jakuchū’s birth. The Kyoto National Museum show features works that will not be shown at other venues, revealing the genius and appeal of this master painter.
Feature Exhibition: Kameyama Ware; Blue-and-White Ceramics of Nagasaki
Sat. October 15, 2016 - Sun. November 27, 2016
In the year 1807, the Kameyama kiln opened on the side of Mt. Kazagashira, overlooking Nagasaki Harbor. It soon became famous for its Chinese-style porcelains with underglaze painted decoration in brilliant cobalt blue. Though this kiln lasted only fifty years, it produced a broad range of ceramics, everything from dishes for the everyday table to writing implements such as inkstones or water-droppers.
This feature exhibition, drawn from the collections of the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture and the Kyushu Ceramic Museum, is being offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Sakamoto Ryōma: Japan’s Favorite Hero. Kameyama ware ceramics were being made in Nagasaki at the same time that Ryōma was living and working there, and he certainly must have used them in his own daily life.
300th Anniversary Feature Exhibition: Yosa Buson
Tue. August 23, 2016 - Sun. October 2, 2016
The renowned painter and haiku poet Yosa Buson (1716–1783) was born in Settsu province (present day Osaka) but went to Edo (Tokyo) as a young man to study painting and poetry. He then took a long itinerant journey on foot through Japan’s northern provinces. It was not until he was past the age of thirty-five that Buson finally settled down in Kyoto. Though he had full mastery of Ming and Qing Chinese painting styles, some Buson’s most distinctive works are his abbreviated, witty haiga sketches. This exhibition, celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of his birth, showcases the charm and genius of Buson’s painting and poetry.
Feature Exhibition: Buddhist Art from Tango
Tue. July 26, 2016 - Sun. September 11, 2016
The Tango Peninsula, jutting into the Japan Sea, is part of northern Kyoto prefecture. With its maritime access to China and Korea and its close relationship to the longtime capital of Kyoto, the region has long served as an active crossroads for both people and objects. It also has a rich Buddhist heritage, with major temples housing sacred artworks dating from the Heian (794–1185) through Muromachi (1392–1573) periods. Recent research has revealed the special significance of its Heian and Kamakura (1185–1333) sculptures and its medieval Buddhist paintings and ritual objects.
Buddhist Art from Tango also features, for the first time ever, a tenth century “hidden” (hibutsu) Buddhist sculpture of the Thousand Armed Kannon (Avalokiteśvara) from the temple of Enjō-ji. This sculpture is normally kept enclosed and secreted from view, even at its temple. The Kyoto National Museum’s exhibition is an extraordinarily rare opportunity to view this revered icon in addition to a wealth of other masterworks bespeaking the ancient history and Buddhist culture of Kyoto’s seaside region.
Feature Exhibition: The Tokugawa Shoguns and Kyoto: Treasures from Chion-in and Other Temples and Shrines
Tue. June 14, 2016 - Mon. July 18, 2016
Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616), the first shogun of early modern Japan, is most closely associated with Edo (present day Tokyo), where he established a new military government. Lesser known is the extent to which Ieyasu and other Tokugawa shoguns patronized temples and shrines in Kyoto—long the stronghold of Ieyasu’s rival warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598). This exhibition, four hundred years after Ieyasu’s death at age 75, examines how rulers of the new Tokugawa regime protected and supported religious institutions in the ancient capital. It introduces this history through important artworks from Kyoto shrines and temples, especially the major temple of Chion-in, including a pair of seated portrait sculptures of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his son Hidetada (1579–1632) collectively designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2014.
Feature Exhibition: Hina Matsuri and Japanese Dolls
Sat. February 27 - Mon. March 21, 2016
The Japanese Doll Festival, or Hina Matsuri, is a holiday that takes place each year on the March 3rd. In honor of this celebration, the Kyoto National Museum presents its annual exhibition of outstanding Japanese dolls.
Feature Exhibition: Guardian Lions and Lion-Dogs
Tue. December 15, 2015 - Sun. March 13, 2016
Pairs of guardian lions are known collectively in Japanese as komainu (lion-dogs). In technical terms, however, these pairs in fact comprise an open-mouthed lion and a closed-mouthed, single-horned komainu. In ancient Egypt and other areas of the Middle East, sculptures of lions exhibited some degree of realism; however, as such images moved east through China, away from the natural habitats of lions, their iconography became increasingly stylized turning into beasts called Chinese lions (karajishi) before entering Japan. Beginning in the Heian period (794 1185), pairs of guardian lions and lion-dogs began to be placed at the entrance to Japanese shrines and temples or inside their halls, taking on the role of protecting the Shinto or Buddhist deities within. This exhibition features approximately ten pairs of sculptures, giving viewers an opportunity to compare and contrast these charming guardian animals.
Feature Exhibition: Imperial Treasures
Tue. January 26 - Sun. February 21, 2016
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a thousand years and remains home to its rich imperial court culture. Kyoto temples house many significant artworks associated with emperors and the aristocracy. Especially important among them are temples known as monzeki, which were headed by imperial princes and princesses or by the sons and daughters of elite courtier families. These high-ranking temples retain the material culture and customs of the court even into the present day.
This exhibition features portraits of historical emperors and members of the court, imperial calligraphy, Buddhist paintings handed down in monzeki temples, and large scale paintings that decorated temple interiors.
Feature Exhibition: Legendary Blades: Meibutsu and Other Outstanding Japanese Swords
Tue. December 15, 2015 - Sun. February 21, 2016
The imperial capital of Kyoto has since ancient times been home to the workshops of countless master swordsmiths. Many of the most famous blades that they forged have survived through the centuries, appearing in various episodes throughout Japanese history.
This exhibition features some of the most renowned such swords in Japan, many of them counted among a small number of blades known as meibutsu (literally, "famed objects"), meaning the best of the best.
Feature Exhibition: Going Ape for the Year of the Monkey
Tue. December 15, 2015 - Sun. January 24, 2016
2016 is the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese Zodiac. This zodiac system, which is also used in Japan and other places in Asia, features a cycle of twelve animals. In honor of the Year of the Monkey, the Kyoto National Museum is bringing out a variety of paintings and decorative art objects with representations of this zodiac animal.
Feature Exhibition: In Commemoration of the 100th Daizō-e Exhibition The Eastward Expansion of Buddhism: Art of the Buddhist Canon
Wed. July 29 - Sun. September 6, 2015
The Daizō-e is an exhibition of Buddhist art and manuscripts organized by Kyoto's Buddhist universities that has been held annually in Kyoto since 1915 (Taishō 4). The name Daizō-e honors the the Taishō Daizōkyō, a massive compendium of all the scriptures in the Buddhist canon (tripiṭaka), which began publication during the Taishō era (1912–1926). In honor of the centennial anniversary of the Daizō-e, the Kyoto National Museum is holding a major exhibition of manuscripts as well as paintings and objects, all of which further our understanding of the history of the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia.
Feature Exhibition: Japanese Masks: From Religious Procession to Noh Performance
Tue. April 21 - Sun. May 31, 2015
This exhibition features approximately thirty heirloom masks belonging to temples and shrines in the Kyoto region. Among them are Heian-period (794–1185) processional masks of the Twelve Devas, which are used at Tō-ji Temple during rites for its five-story pagoda; Nanbokuchō-period (1333–1392) processional masks of the Eight Classes of Protectors; a Kamakura-period (1185–1333) mask of Vaiśravana (Bishamonten) used in the New Years Eve tsuinae ritual at the Kokubun-ji Temple in Tango; and Noh and Kyōgen masks from Kyoto shrines dating to the Muromachi (1392–1573) and Edo (1615–1868) periods. While these richly varied masks were created for functional use in rituals or performances, they also exhibit distinctive sculptural characteristics exemplifying the periods in which they were made.
Feature Exhibition: The Aoi Festival: A Thousand-Year Tradition
Tue. April 21 - Sun. May 31, 2015
The Aoi Festival, or Aoi Matsuri (or more formally, the Kamo Festival), is one of the Three Great Festivals of Kyoto, along with the Gion Festival and the Festival of Ages (Jidai Matsuri). Since ancient times, it has been held annually at Kyoto's Shimogamo and Kamigamo Shrines on the fifteenth day of May. During the Heian period (794–1185), in the early 800s, the Kamo Festival began to be held by imperial order and was attended imperial envoys, making it the most important festival in the capital. Today, as one of Japan's three court-sponsored festivals (chokusai)—along with the festivals Kasuga Festival and Iwashimizu Festival—the Aoi Festival brilliantly conveys the elegance of the Heian capital. Beloved by citizens from every sector of society, the festival has also been the inspiration for numerous episodes in Japanese literature and works of art. This exhibition features works that evoke this age-old annual event, which has been a mainstay of life in Kyoto for over a millennium.
Feature Exhibition: Hina Matsuri and Japanese Dolls
Sat. February 21 - Tue. April 7, 2015
The highlights of the exhibition this year are the large central hina altars with pavilions— exemplifying a now-rare display style formerly found in Kyoto, Osaka, and other areas of the Kansai region. One of these is a newly donated ensemble commissioned for a baby girl in the year 1844. The significance of the Kyoto National Museum's collection should be evident from the high quality of the works on view. We hope that its appeal will extend to visitors of all ages.
Feature Exhibition: Masterworks of Kongō-ji Temple
Wed. March 4 - Sun. March 29, 2015
The formal name of this temple is Amanosan Kongō-ji. Part of the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism, it is said to have been founded by the priest Gyōki (668–749). Among the artworks owned by Kongō-ji are four National Treasure handscrolls of the Engishiki (lit., "Procedures of the Engi Era"; volumes 9, 12, 14, and 16) as well as a National Treasure double-edged sword. In addition, it has preserved manuscripts and documents, paintings, arms and armor, and other outstanding works. Many of the manuscripts have been studied recently by scholars of Japanese literature. This exhibition shares the results of such recent research as it introduces the art and history of this significant Osaka temple.
An Ancient Temple of the San'in Region: The Treasures of Gakuen-ji Temple
Sun. January 2 - Sun. February 15, 2015
Gakuen-ji is a Tendai sect temple in Shimane prefecture. It is hailed one of the sacred places in Japan in a late Heian period (circa 1180) anthology entitled Ryōjin hishō (Songs to Make the Dust Dance on the Beams), which was selected by Retired Emperor Goshirakawa. This reference tells us that by the late twelfth century, Gakuen-ji was already famous as a sacred site and temple among the people of Kyoto.
This exhibition features various artworks from the temple including Buddhist and Shinto sculptures.
Play
Sat. July 13 - Sun. August 25, 2013
This special feature explores the theme of asobi or play/amusement from the Kyoto National Museum's variegated collection of works through motifs and scenes of music and dances offered to deities, banquets, moon viewings, flower viewings, boat rides, theater outings, igo and sugoroku board games, poetry matches, shell-matching games, incense-smelling games, children's rides, and playing with dolls. Come enjoy the museum and learn about renowned works through this familiar theme and encounter hidden treasures in this exhibition.
The National Treasure Twelve Devas and the World of Esoteric Buddhist Rituals
Tue. January 8 - Mon. February 11, 2013
In Jowa 1 (834), the Shingon master Kukai (774-835) began the Rites and Austerities of the Latter Seven Days, (Goshichinichi no mishiho), in the Imperial court. This ritual to pray for national protection at the beginning of the year continues to be practiced at the Shingon temple To-ji in Kyoto to this day. The Kyoto National Museum has a complete set of twelve deva paintings. This exhibition features this set in its entirety along with related paintings such as the National Treasure-designated screens Landscape (KNM).
Commemorating 800 Years of Hōjōki (An Account of My Hut)
Tue. January 8 - Mon. February 11, 2013
In the third month of Kenryaku 2 (1212), Kamo no Chōmei (1155-1216) composed Hōjōki (An Account of My Hut), one of the most representative literary works from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). The Kyoto National Museum will present the Daifukuko-ji Temple edition of Hōjōki (designated Important Cultural Property), known as the earliest existing copy, and other related manuscripts.
Creatures' Paradise: Animals in Art from the Kyoto National Museum
Sat. July 16 - Sun. August 28, 2011
Creatures' Paradise is the first special feature to showcase animals in works of art from the Jōmon period to today in the museum’s collection. Visit magnificent mammals such as elephants and camels, pets such as dogs, cats, and rabbits, as well as colorful birds, humorous amphibians, insects and fishes, and powerful sacred animals. Transcending differences in production date, expression, and media, this exhibition features lively images of animals that have been long cherished in Japan.
Celebrating125 Years Since the Birth of the Artist
The Seal Engraver Sonoda Kojō
Sat. January 8 - Sun. February 20, 2011
The renowned seal engraver Sonoda Kojō (1886-1968) was closely connected to the Kyoto National Museum. Today, we can see his calligraphic work, which was used for characters "Kyoto National Museum" in the frame above the entrance of the Special Exhibition Hall. Sonoda Kojō also associated with cultural figures of his time, such as the painters Tomioka Tessai (1873-1924), Hashimoto Kansetsu (1883-1945), and Kanda Kiichiro (1897-1984), and engraved many of their personal seals. To celebrate the 125th year of his birth and recall his achievements, this commemorative exhibition will present works and materials related to this figure.
New Acquisitions
Sat. July 17 - Sun. August 29, 2010
This annual exhibition presents works of art and cultural assets acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2008 and 2009.
Special Feature The Swords and Armor of Atsu Hime's Contemporaries
Wed. October 22 - Sun. December 7, 2008
The current NHK year-long historical drama series Atsu Hime has been very popular in Japan. Born to a branch family of the Shimazu clan in Kagoshima and adopted as the daughter of the feudal lord Shimazu Nariaki, Atsu Hime ("Princess Atsu," 1836-1883) became the wife of the thirteenth Tokugawa shogun Iesada (1824-1858). After her husband's death, she supported Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913) and saw the surrender of Edo Castle from within the inner ladies chambers (J., Ooku). In life, Atsu Hime lived through the political upheavals at the end of the Tokugawa (Edo) period. In this televised series, the character Atsu Hime has captured the hearts of her viewers. In conjunction to the Atsu Hime series, this special feature presents five renowned swords and armors housed at the Kyoto National Museum that originally belonged to historic figures who played important roles in Atsu Hime's life.
Sakamoto Ryōma
Wed. July 23 - Sun. August 31, 2008
This exhibition on Sakamoto Ryōma (1835-1867) features objects owned by the revolutionary hero. Highlights include handwritten letters by Ryōma that reveal his character, such his illustrated letter reporting events of his honeymoon to his family in Tosa. Other historically related manuscripts from the end of the Tokugawa government will be on display.
Seventy Years Later: Sugimoto Tetsuro's Reproduction of Ajanta and Sigiriya Cave Paintings
Wed. June 25 - Sun. July 27, 2008
The painter Sugimoto Tetsuro (1899-1985) copied the cave paintings in the Ajanta and Sigiriya caves from 1937 to 1938, becoming the first foreigner to undertake this large task. After returning to Japan, he held an exhibition at the Imperial Gift Musuem of Kyoto (later renamed the Kyoto National Museum), which stunned his viewers, and donated his works to the museum. Seventy years later, we look back to this event.
The Milieu of The Tale of Genj: Archaeological Discoveries from the Heian Period
Wed. April 2 - Sun. June 29, 2008
This year marks a thousand years since Lady Murasaki wrote her celebrated novel, The Tale of Genji. This exhibition explores the age in which this author lived through archaeological objects related to her contemporaries including the powerful Minister of the Left (later regent) Fujiwara no Michinaga and his daughter, the Imperial consort Shoshi, who Murasaki served. Highlights include the impressive bronze sutra container (National Treasure, Kinpu Shrine) that Michinaga buried on Mount Kinpu and the elegant gilt gold and silver sutra case with floral motif (National Treasure, Enryaku-ji Temple) that Shoshi donated to Mount Hiei.
New Acquisitions
Sat. May 21 - Sun. June 22, 2008
This annual exhibition presents works of art and cultural assets acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2007.
Hina Matsuri and Japanese Dolls
Sat. February 23 - Sun. March 30, 2008
This annual exhibition presents works of art and cultural assets acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2005.
An Old Man's Mischief: The Works of the Buddhist Sculptor Shimizu Ryukei
Wed. January 2 - Sun. March 30, 2008
Kiyomizu Ryukei (n.d.) came from a family of Kyoto Buddhist sculptors that continued for four generations during the Edo period. He was a skilled sculptor, who was affiliated with the renowned priest Tankai (1629-1716) of Hozan-ji Temple. In his latter years, however, he carved dolls that reflected the social conditions of the time and called them the "mischief of an old man." This exhibition examines the works of this dynamic artist.
Famous Swords from Shrines
Wed. January 2 - Mon. February 11, 2008
Sword endowed with various wishes have been offered to the gods and buddhas since ancient times in Japan. Among these are offerings by renowned warlords. This exhibition features sword offerings that have been made to famous shrines in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Aichi.
Gifts from the Kyoto Museum: The Beginnings of the Kyoto National Museum Collections
Wed. November 21 - Mon. December 24, 2007
The history of acquisition began in 1891, when the Prefecture of Kyoto donated over one thousand works of art and cultural artifacts to the museum. Showcased here are these little-known gifts.
Noh Theater and Art
Thur. October 11 - Sun. November 11, 2007
This special feature presents exemplary noh masks, costumes, and librettos.
Treasures of Daikaku-ji Temple: Commemorating the 700th Anniversary of Emperor Gouda's Appointment as Abbot
Wed. August 8 - Mon. September 17, 2007
Daikaku-ji Temple, which is renowned as the "Saga Imperial Palace," underwent a major revival in 1307, when the retired emperor Gouda (1267-1324) became its abbot. Featured here are treasures from Daikaku-ji, including the cloistered emperor's powerful yet playful calligraphic works and resplendent screen paintings by Kano Sanraku (1559-1635) that adorned the temple quarters.
New Acquisitions
Wed. June 20 - Sun. July 29, 2007
This annual exhibition presents works of art and cultural assets acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2006.
Hina Matsuri and Japanese Dolls
Sat. February 17 - Sun. April 8, 2007
Featuring hina ningyo (Girls' Day dolls) and various other Kyoto dolls, including Gosho ningyo and Kamo ningyo.
Shinto Sculptures
Tue. January 2 - Sun. March 25, 2007
Unlike Buddhist sculptures, images of Shinto deities take various forms due to the lack of standized models. See how the Japanese preceived the deities through the different Shinto images in this exhibit.
Kōdai-ji Makie and Nanban Lacquerware
Tue. January 2 - Mon. February 12, 2007
Kōdai-ji makie represents a decorative lacquer technique used for architectural interiors, furnishings, and personal accessories that were popular in the Momoyama period (1573-1615). Nanban shikki (literally, "Southern barbarian lacquerware"), also produced at this time, refers to lacquerware that was in vogue among the Europeans who came to Japan. Enjoy opulent masterworks of lacquer from the beginning of Japan's early modern period.
The World of Immortals
Tue. January 2 - Sun. January 28, 2007
Introducing Chinese and Japanese paintings of immortals, including Xiama and Tieguai by Yan Hui (Important Cultural Property, Chion-in Temple) and Qingao and Other Immortals by Sesson (Important Cultural Property, KNM).
The Calligraphy by the Founders of Japanese Buddhism
Wed. November 15 - Sun. December 24, 2006
Highlighting calligraphy by celebrated Buddhist priests of the Kamakura period, including Myoe, Shinran, and Nichiren. See works by various eminent masters who left a mark in Japanese Buddhist history.
ENJOYING AUTUMNAL LEAVES
Wed. October 25 - Sun. November 26, 2006
The exhibitions in The Collections Hall are often organized based on seasonal themes. This fall, the Kyoto National Museum presents various artworks capturing colorful autumnal leaves. Enjoy the spectacular brocade in the city and at the Kyoto National Museum!
Qi Baishi and His Contemporaries
Wed. September 6 - Sun. October 1, 2006
Featuring paintings by the modern Chinese master Qi Baishi (1863-1957) and his contemporaries, such as Priest Ruiguang and Yao Hua, primarily from the Suma Collection, which was donated to the museum in recent years.
New Acquisitions
Wed. May 31 - Sun. July 2, 2006
This annual exhibition presents works of art and cultural assets acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2005.
Daiitoku Myoo
Wed. April 19 - Sun. May 7, 2006
The distinctive expression of his elongated body and large, wide-open eyes demonstrate features of classic early tenth-century Buddhist sculpture in Japan. Moreover, documents, confirming its date of production to the beginning of the tenth century, make this work extremely valuable in terms of Buddhist art history. For these reasons, this image was designated an Important Cultural Property in 2004, and restored with government funding at the Conservation Center for Cultural Properties at the Kyoto National Museum in the following year.
Traditions Unbound Paintings Return to Kyoto
Sat. March 25 - Sun. April 9, 2006
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco presents Traditions Unbound: Groundbreaking Painters of 18th-Century Kyoto from December 3, 2005 to February 26, 2006. The original concept of the San Francisco show comes from the Kyoto National Museum exhibition Conflicting Aesthetics: Japanese Art in the 18th Century, which was held in 1980.
Commemorating the Restoration of the Myoken-ji Temple Documents
Wed. March 1 - Sun. April 2, 2006
This rare display of handscrolls from the collection of Kyoto's Myoken-ji Temple Documents (designated as Important Cultural Properties) commemorates the completion of their restoration.
Girls' Day and Dolls
Sat. February 18 - Sun. April 2, 2006
This annual display, celebrating Girls' Day on March 3rd, features hina dolls and various traditional Kyoto dolls, such as gosho ningyo (Imperial Palace dolls) and Kamo ningyo (Kamo dolls).
Sculptures of Shinto Deities and Guardian Lions and Lion Dogs
Mon. January 2 - Sun. March 26, 2006
Every other year, the Kyoto National Museum features Lions and Lion Dogs as part of the New Year's exhibition. This year, these sculptures will be exhibited with images of Shinto deities in their former role as sacred guardians.
Master Swords from Temples and Shrines in Kyoto
Mon. January 2 - Sun. February 12, 2006
Swords from famous temples and shrines in Kyoto, including Yasaka Shrine, Atago Shrine, Daikaku-ji Temple, and Myoshin-ji Temple, will be featured. See treasured swords said to been owned by the warlords Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98) and other examples designated as Important Cultural Properties.
Japanese Poetry and Art: 1100 Years of Kokinshū, 800 Years of Shinkokinshū
Wed. November 23 - Sun. December 25, 2005
This exhibition celebrates the compilation of the classical Japanese poem anthologies, Kokinshū (Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems) and Shinkokinshū (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems), through various exemplary works of art, such as the National Treasures Hon'ami Edition of Kokinshū (segment of scroll 12) and Portrait of Emperor Gotoba, as well as other poem anthologies, paintings of poetic sages, and poetic motifs in the applied arts.
Tracing the History of the Ji Sect: Celebrating the 1200th Anniversary of Chōraku-ji Temple
Wed. July 13 - Sun. August 21, 2005
According to the legends of Chōraku-ji, this year marks the 1200th year since the founding of this Kyoto temple. Historical documents left by generations of priests of the Buddhist Ji (Time) Sect will be traced.
New Acquisitions
Wed. June 1 - Sun. July 3, 2005
This annual exhibition presents artwork and cultural properties acquired by the Kyoto National Museum in fiscal year 2004.
Calligraphy by Emperors: The Sentiment that Went into Imperial Letters
Wed. March 2 - Sun. April 3, 2005
This is an exhibit of calligraphies by emperors. These imperial writings reflect their milieu as well as sentiments of happiness, surprise, and anger.
Ito Jakuchū
Sun. January 2 - Sun. March 27, 2005
The painter Ito Jakuchū (1716-1800) enjoyed a revival in popularity since the special exhibition at the Kyoto National Museum, Jakuchū: On the 200th Anniversary of the Artist's Death, held in 2000. During Jakuchū's lifetime, he was said to have told a priest that his works would only be understood two hundred years after him. If he truly said this, then his words have been realized. Jakuchū's works now often appear in textbooks and in video clips, and most recently, as designs on beverage bottles. Although a few paintings by Jakuchū have been shown at the Kyoto National Museum, this current exhibition is the first since the 2000 special exhibition to feature so many of his works.
Buddhist Sculptures and the Art of Photography
Sun. January 2 - Sun. March 27, 2005
Sculptures transform depending on the angle and lighting in which they are viewed. These elements also come into play when photographing sculptural works. This display of Buddhist sculpture and their photographs considers the relationship between sculpture and its viewing angle and lighting.
Kōdai-ji Makie and Nanban Lacquerware
Sun. January 2 - Sun. February 20, 2005
In the Momoyama period (1573-1615), members of the warrior class vied with one another to decorate interior spaces and furnishings in ornate makie, a decorative lacquer technique using metal powders or flakes. Kōdai-ji makie, named after Kōdai-ji Temple in Kyoto, is one of the most exemplary styles of this technique. Nanban lacquerware, an appellation used to describe the Europeans in Japan, who, enamored with makie, commissioned religious utensils and Western-style furniture, during this period.
Heian Elegance: The Twelve Devas and the Landscape Screen
Sun. January 2 - Sun. February 13, 2005
Two Heian (794-1185) masterpieces--he Twelve Devas, which were formerly used in celebratory rituals at the imperial palace in Kyoto, and the Landscape Screen, the only extant screen painting from this period--will be shown.
The Other Moriya Collection: Chinese Bronze Mirrors
Tue. October 19 - Sun. December 19, 2004
This exhibition, held in conjunction with the special exhibition, The Sacred Letters of Early Sutras, presents the entire set of mirrors at the Kyoto National Museum that formerly belonged to Kozo Moriya for the first time in almost fifty years.
CELEBRATING THE RESTORATION OF THE NATIONAL TREASURE KYOGYOSHINSHO BY SHINRAN
Tue. November 2 - Sun. November 28, 2004
This exhibition commemorates the completion of a two-year restoration project (during the fiscal years 2002 to 2003) of the National Treasure Kyogyoshinsho (from the collection of the Shinshu otani Sect).
Her Majesty the Empress and the Sericulture of the Koishimaru Silkworm:
Celebrating Ten Years in the Reproduction of Shōsō-in Textile
Sat. August 21 - Thur. September 23, 2004
For the last ten years, the Imperial Household Agency Office of the Shōsō-in Treasure House has been involved in the reproduction of ancient textiles from the Nara period (710-793) used for the Shōsō-in treasures.
New Acquisition
Wed. June 30 - Sun. August 1, 2004
Featured are artworks acquired and donated to the Kyoto National Museum during the fiscal year Heisei 14 (2003).
Edo to Meiji-period Studies of Ancient Objects through Illustrations
Wed. May 19 - Sun. June 27, 2004
Before the prevalence of photography, illustrations and rubbings of objects excavated from tumuli and treasures found in temples were commonly made during the late Edo (1616-1867) to Meiji (1868-1912) periods. This exhibit surveys these early records of artworks and artifacts.
Mysterious Landscapes and the Korean Edition of Yuzhi Bizangquan from the Nanzen-ji Sutra Collection
Sat. April 6 - Sun. May 16, 2004
Included in the collection of the entire Buddhist canon from Nanzen-ji are nineteen volumes (scroll seventeen missing from an original set of twenty volumes) of the Korean edition of the renowned Yuzhi Bizangquan (works by the second Northern Song emperor Taizong (r. 976-997). See these exquisite printed volumes from the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) with detailed woodcut illustrations modeled on first Chinese Northern Song edition.
Celebrating the Doll's day Festival
Sat. February 14 - Sun. April 4, 2004
Hina dolls will be highlighted in this annual spring display. A variety of Japanese dolls, including gosho ningyō, Kamo ningyō, and costume dolls, will also be shown.
Lions and Lion Dogs
Sun. January 4 - Sun. March 28, 2004
This annual exhibition of lion and lion-dogs focuses on examples from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Highlights include works by the sculptor Tankei (1173-1256), who created a new style of these guardian images.
The Twelve Devas and the Landscape Screen
Sun. January 4 - Sun. February 1, 2004
Don't miss this special opportunity to see elegant masterworks from the Heian period (794-1185). The Twelve Devas, originally used in religious ceremonies at the imperial court, represent the height of late Heian Buddhist painting. The Landscape Screen is the only extant screen painting dating from this time.
Imperial Missives: Calligraphy by Emperors
Tue. January 4, - Sun. February 1, 2004
Elegant letters written by early Japanese emperors, evoking various sentiments of happiness, anger, and surprise, and reflecting the social conditions of the time, will be on display.
A Historical Overview of Shinsengumi
Thur. September 4 - Sun. October 5, 2003
This exhibition introduces Shinsengumi--the police force made up of disfranchised samurai in Kyoto, at the end of the Tokugawa government--through historical records, letters, and picture scrolls.
Sakamoto Ryōma
Thur. September 4 - Sun. October 5, 2003
Materials related to the revolutionary hero, Sakamoto Ryōma (1835-67).
New Acquisitions
Wed. July 2 - Sun. August 3, 2003
Featured are artworks acquired and donated to the Kyoto National Museum during the fiscal year Heisei 14 (2002).
The Sutras of Chūson-ji Temple
Wed. April 23 - Sun. May 25, 2003
The magnificent Sutras of Chūson-ji Temple, designated National Treasures, will be displayed in conjunction with the special spring exhibition, Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kūkai and Mount Kōya. This extraordinary decorative set of the entire Buddhist cannon, brushed in gold and silver characters on indigo paper, now mostly owned by Kongōbu-ji Temple on Mount Kōya, was originally donated to Chūson-ji (in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture) by Fujiwara Kiyohira, in the late Heian period (794-1185).
Celebrating the Dolls' Day Festival
Sat. February 15 - Sun. March 30, 2003
An annual spring exhibition of hina ningyō and other Japanese dolls.
EARLY CALLIGRAPHY AND EXEMPLARY ALBUMS
Tue. January 7 - Sun. February 2, 2003
This ostentatious display of exquisite calligraphic works include the Moshiogusa Album of Exemplary Calligraphy (National Treasure, Kyoto National Museum), the Large Album of Exemplary Calligraphy (Important Cultural Property), the Manshu-in Edition of Kokin wakashū (Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poems, designated National Treasure, Manshu-in Temple), and the Hon'ami Edition of Kokin wakashū, Scroll 12 (National Treasure).
NEW YEAR FELICITATION
Thur. December 26, 2002 - Sun. February 2, 2003
To celebrate the New Year, the Kyoto National Museum proudly presents, from the 2002 year-end to the beginning of 2003, New Year Felicitations, a colorful exhibition of artworks related to this season.
Celebrating the Restoration of The Illustrated Biography of Priest Ippen
Wed. October 9 - Sun. November 10, 2002
The Illustrated Biography of Priest Ippen (1239-89) will be shown in its entirety to commemorate the recent completion of its six-year restoration. Related works and materials, newly discovered during its restoration, will also be on display.
Sakamoto Ryōma
Wed. July 31 - Sun. September 1, 2002
Art and historical materials from the Kyoto National Museum collection and other lenders related to this late Edo period hero.
New Acquisitions, 2002
Wed. July 3 - Sun. July 28, 2002
This exhibition focuses on images of deities,designated Important Cultural Properties,from the Daishogunhachi Shrine.
DEITIES OF THE DAISHŌGUNHACHI SHRINE
Wed. July 3 - Sun. August 4, 2002
This exhibition focuses on images of deities, designated Important Cultural Properties, from the Daishōgunhachi Shrine.
The Treasures of Yasaka Shrine
Wed. May 29 - Sun. June 30, 2002
A large variety of treasures offered to this famous Gion shrine in Kyoto at the beginning of the Edo period, as well as decorative arts, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, etc., many on exhibit for the first time ever.
Lions and Lion Dogs
Fri. January 4 - Sun. March 24, 2002
Sculpture of lions and komainu (lion dogs) from the early Heian and Kamakura periods, with an emphasis of the history and development of the genre.
Japanese Dolls and the Doll Festival
Fri. February 15 - Sun. March 31, 2002
An annual spring exhibition of hina ningyō and other Japanese dolls.
Sutra Manuscripts of the Nara Period: The Beauty of the Written Character
Wed. February 6 - Sun. March 10, 2002
Approximately twenty-five outstanding Buddhist sutra manuscripts dating to the Nara period.
New Acquisitions of the Kyoto National Museum, II
Wed. October 31 - Sun. December 2, 2001
Outstanding works of contemporary Chinese painting from the Suma Collection, recently donated to the Kyoto National Museum.
Treasures of Chishaku-in Temple
Thur. September 27 - Sun. October 28, 2001
Featuring National Treasure wall paintings by Hasegawa Tōhaku and Kyuzo and other cultural properties from the temple collection, this exhibition commemorates the 400th anniversary of the reconstruction of Chishaku-in.
Sakamoto Ryōma: Ryōma and His Contemporaries
Wed. August 1 - Mon. September 2, 2001
New Acquisitions of the Kyoto National Museum, I
Wed. June 27 - Sun. July 29, 2001
Japanese Dolls
Fri. February 16 - Sun. March 25, 2001
Kōdai-ji Makie and Namban Lacquerware
Thur. January 4 - Mon. February 12, 2001
Buddhist Art as Ritual Offering: Shaka Rising from the Gold Coffin and Other National Treasures of the Heian Period
Thur. October 12 - Sun. November 19, 2000
Treasures of Chōraku-ji Temple
Thur. October 12 - Sun. November 12, 2000
New Acquisitions, II: Contemporary Chinese Painting from the Suma Collection
Wed. September 6 - Mon. October 9, 2000
Sakamoto Ryōma and the Battles of the Late Edo Period
Wed. July 26 - Thur. August 31, 2000
Classical Literature and Art: The Collection of Osaka Aoyama Junior College
Wed. July 26 - Thur. August 31, 2000
New Acquisitions, 2000
Wed. July 5 - Sun. August 6, 2000
Japanese Dolls
Fri. February 18 - Sun. April 2, 2000
Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Ueno Collection
On the 40th Anniversary of Its Donation
Wed. February 2 - Sun. March 5, 2000
The Twelve Devas
Tue. January 4 - Sun. February 6, 2000
The Elegance of Japanese Court Costume
Tue. October 6 - Sun. November 11, 1999
Sakamoto Ryōma
Wed. August 4 - Sun. September 5, 1999
New Acquisitions 1999
Wed. June 30 - Sun. August 1, 1999
Japanese Dolls 1999
Thur. February 25 - Sun. April 4, 1999
Guardian Lions and Lion Dogs 1999
Tue. January 5 - Sun. April 11, 1999
Kōdai-ji Makie and Namban Lacquerware 1999
Tue. January 5 - Sun. February 21, 1999
New Acquisitions 1998, Part II: Muromachi to Edo Period Mirrors
Thur. August 6 - Sun. September 20, 1998
New Acquisitions 1998, Part I
Wed. July 1 - Sun. August 2, 1998
Kamo Horse Races
Wed. April 8 - Sun. May 17, 1998
Japanese Dolls 1998
Thur. February 26 - Sun. April 5, 1998
The Twelve Devas and Sanzui-byōbu Screen 1998
Sun. January 4 - Sun. February 1, 1998
Lions and Lion Dogs 1998
Sun. January 4 - Sun. March 29, 1998
A Hundred Years of the Kyoto National Museum
Wed. October 15 - Mon. November 24, 1997
Court Costumes Donated by the Princess Chichibunomiya
Wed. September 10 - Sun. October 12, 1997
Legends of the Kegon Sect Handscroll
Wed. August 6 - Sun. September 7, 1997
New Acquisitions 1997
Wed. July 2 - Sun. August 3, 1997
Japanese Dolls 1997
Fri. February 21 - Sun. April 6, 1997
Lions and Lion Dogs 1997
Sat. January 4 - Sun. March 23, 1997
Twelve Devas and Sanzui Byōbu Screen 1997
Sat. January 4 - Sun. February 9, 1997
Kōdai-ji Maki'e and Nanban Lacquerware
Tue. January 4 - Sun. February 2, 1997

A Message to Museum Visitors

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