The 74th Annual Exhibition of Shōsō-in Treasures
The Shōsō-in treasures, which number approximately 9,000, were once stored in the Shōsō-in repository at the temple of Tōdaiji. Every year around sixty treasures are carefully selected for exhibition, this year marking the Seventy-Fourth Annual Exhibition of Shōsō-in Treasures. As in previous years, this year’s exhibition will feature a wide variety of items, from beautifully crafted artifacts to documents that reflect the world of the ancient capital during the Nara period (710–794).
Those items that the consort of Emperor Shōmu (701–756, r. 724–249), Empress Kōmyō (701–760), donated to the Great Buddha (Rushana) of Tōdaiji on the forty-ninth day after his passing, the twenty-first of the sixth month of Tenpyō Shōhō 8 (756), hold a special place among the Shōsō-in treasures for their clear provenance. Of these, this year’s display will include delicately rendered, gorgeous artifacts, like the Eight-Lobed White Bronze Mirror Inlaid with Gold and Silver Cutouts in Black Lacquer on the Back, as well as the highly esteemed Aromatic Log Used as Incense (Zensenkō) that rivals the aromatic log Ōjukukō (Ranjatai) in fame.
In addition, this year the exhibition features a number of treasures related to Nara-period accessories and ornament. The tiny Rhinoceros-Horn Fish Ornaments and the Painted Bird Ornaments are thought to have been worn by aristocrats, who hung them from their waist sashes or stitched them onto their clothing. Although only a few centimeters in size, the precision of the work on the fish scales and bird wings is remarkable. Penknives hung from waist sashes and fashioned from rare materials like rhinoceros horn and ivory are remarkable for being ornamental accessories that are of practical use, as exemplified by the beautifully decorated Penknife made with a Mottled Rhinoceros Horn Hilt, Green Incised Ivory Sheath, and Gilt Silver Fittings.
During the Nara period (710–794) one role of Buddhism was to protect the nation, and numerous rituals were performed for this purpose. The ink inscription inside the gigaku (a type of mimed drama) mask of Rikishi clarifies that it was used during the Consecration Ceremonies for the Great Buddha at Tōdaiji that were held in Tenpyō Shōhō 4 (752). The mask’s vivid red face evokes the scene of a magnificent ceremonial. The splendor of these Buddhist rites is seen also in the brilliant Painted Rectangular Offering Table and the great variety of cutout designs in the Gilt Bronze Banner.
Moreover, ancient ritual implements, like the Iron Double-Ended Three-Pronged Vajra, that predate the transmission by Kūkai (774–835) of full-fledged esoteric Buddhism to Japan, even now convey the solemn atmosphere of the Buddhist rituals.
These numerous treasures have been preserved and handed down through the generations by people who revere tradition. The final object on exhibition are the Album Leaves with Various Textiles Including Compound Weave Nishiki, Embroidery, Twill Damask, and Plain Weave Silk. When the Repository was inspected in 1833, fragments of Nara-period textiles were sorted and mounted onto a standing screen. This Edo-period standing screen was a symbolic first step towards making order of the treasures in the Shōsō-in. We hope that these textiles inspire you to contemplate the centuries of effort that have gone into the preservation of the treasures to the present day.
Saturday, October 29th – Monday, November 14th, 2022 (Reiwa 4)
The museum is open every day for the entire run of the exhibition.
9:00 a.m. –6:00 p.m.
- Hours are extended to 8:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and November 3rd (Culture Day).
- Last entry is one hour prior to closing.
The East Wing and West Wing, Nara National Museum
|General Admission||2,000 JPY|
|University and High School Students||1,500 JPY|
|Junior High and Elementary School Students||500 JPY|
|Campus Members||400 JPY|
|Persons with disabilities are admitted free of charge along with one attendant. Please show official ID or other documentation.||Free Admission|
Please note that those qualifying for free admission still must reserve their tickets in advance.
|Those with an NNM Premium Card are admitted free of charge.|
- Advance tickets can be purchased at Lawson Ticket [L code: 58885] (Lawson and Ministop stores, telephone (TEL: 0570-000-028), or the official website <https://l-tike.com>). There are no ticket sales at the museum.
- Ticket sales will end as soon as tickets sell out. The final date to purchase tickets will vary depending on the method of purchase.
- One can purchase up to four tickets at a time. However, when reserving free-admission tickets, only a single ticket can be reserved at a time. The number of tickets for each timed-entry window is limited, so please make your reservation for a time and date that you will be able to visit the museum.
- There is no special rate for groups or tours.
- For Those Who Have Reserved Tickets for University, High School, Junior High School, and Elementary School Students
On the day of your visit, students must show their student ID. (Elementary school students are exempt from this requirement). If you do not present your student ID, you will be asked to pay the difference between the regular price (2,000 yen) and the cost of a student ticket.
- Visitors Qualifying for Free and Discounted Admission
For those who have reserved a Campus Members student ticket or a free reserved ticket, you will need to present your certificate or membership card on the day of your visit. If you do not present your certificate or membership card, you will be asked to pay for your ticket (2,000 yen for general admission and 1,500 yen for high school and university students). Persons with a disability certificate (and their accompanying caregiver) or holders of an NNM Premium Card on their first and second visit are admitted free of charge, but they must reserve their ticket in advance. Finally, it is not necessary to make a reservation in advance for children in preschool.
- Advance tickets cannot be used to view exhibitions from the permanent collection—the Nara Buddhist Sculpture Hall and the Chinese Ancient Ritual Bronzes Gallery, but visitors with advance tickets can enjoy a discounted admission. For adults, admission is 200 yen instead of 700 yen, and for university students, admission is 100 yen instead of 350 yen. Admission to the permanent collection galleries is free for anyone under 18 years of age in addition to high school students. It is also free for those 70 years of age and above or visitors with a disability certificate and their caregiver.
Admission is timed-entry for this exhibition, with hour-long windows for entry from the time that the museum opens. You must arrive at the museum during the window designated on your ticket. The last entrance is at 5:00 p.m., and at 7:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and on November 3rd (Culture Day).
Visiting the Exhibition
- Admission will not be granted during an entry window other than the one for which you have reserved a ticket.
- There is likely to be a big crowd at the beginning of each entry window; please keep this in mind as you determine the time of your arrival. You may enter the exhibition at any time during the window indicated on your ticket.
- The line to enter the exhibition begins ten minutes before the start of each entry window. You will only be permitted to join the line for the window designated on your ticket.
- If the galleries are crowded, there is a possibility that you will be asked to wait to enter the exhibition even if you arrive at the time designated on your ticket.
- We will take your temperature at the museum entrance. Please be so kind as to wear a mask.
- To avoid congestion in the galleries, we request that visitors limit their time viewing the exhibition to around one hour.
Nara National Museum
With Special Support from:
The Yomiuri Shimbun
With the Support of:
Iwatani Corporation; SGC Co., Ltd.; Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corporation; Kansai Electrical Safety Inspection Association; Kyoto Arts and Crafts University; Kintetsu Railway Co., Ltd.; Central Japan Railway Company; West Japan Railway Company; Shionogi Healthcare Co., Ltd.; Daikin Industries, Ltd.; Daicel Corporation; Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd.; Nakanishi Metal Works Co., Ltd.; Maruichi Steel Tube Ltd.; and Yamato Noen Co., Ltd.
With the Cooperation of:
Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) Nara Station, Osaka Metro, Nara Kotsu Bus Lines Co., Ltd., Nara Television Co., Ltd., Nippon Kodo Co., Ltd., Bukkyō Bijutsu Kyōkai (Buddhist Art Foundation), and Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation.