Past Exhibitions

Feature Exhibition: Aquarium at the Kyoto National Museum: What Kind of Fish Can You Find? IV. Fruits of the Sea
July 25, 2017 - September 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.

IV. Fruits of the Sea

Humans have long used harpoons, hooks, and nets to catch up tasty fish from the ocean. In Japan, which is surrounded by water, fish and seafood have always played an important role in everyday meals and in special celebrations. If you look at the handscroll on view here, you will see chefs working very hard to prepare large fish, prawns, and abalone for the table. You may notice some differences between the past and present ways in which people caught and dealt with fish to be eaten. What has not changed over time is people’s desire for delicious seafood!

V. Beautiful Materials from the Sea

Some of the art objects shown in the museum are actually made from shells or other materials of the sea. The pearly, iridescent shells of the great green turban (yakōgai) or abalone (awabi) are used to decorate lacquer boxes. The rough, bumpy hilt (grip) you see on some swords is made from the skin of the cowtail stingray (tsuka ei). Tortoiseshell (bekkō) has an elegant translucence and caramel color that has made it a favorite material for women’s hair ornaments. In this section, you can see how the beauty of sea life has been transformed into handsome, lasting artistic objects.

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