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Buddhist Art Library

External appearance

Facade of the building

The Buddhist Art Library was founded in 1980 for the purpose of creation, collection, arrangement, and conservation of research data related to Buddhist art, as well as the publication of related books and photos.

Materials currently available to the public (since April 2008)

Books: 67,000 volumes
Magazines: approximately 3,000 titles
Exhibition catalogs: approximately 10,000 copies
Photos: approximately 128,000 prints
*Please visit this page for inquiring about the photographic images.

Library Catalog (OPAC)

Users can search for Buddhist Art Library materials, including books, journals, bulletins, reports, and exhibition catalogs, via the Internet. Books and journals can be searched by title, author, and subject using the “Book/Journal Search.” Articles in journals and exhibition catalogs can also be searched by title and author using the “Article Search” as well.

Days and hours of operation

Wednesdays and Fridays: 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
(Photocopy service available until 4:00 PM)
 Closed on holidays and from December 26 to January 4.


The center is available for browsing, photocopying of written materials, and reference to archives.

How to use the library

Please enter the building site from the south gate on the approach to the Kasuga Shrine and register at the west entrance reception desk in the building.

Central hall

Sekino hall

Reading room

Reading room

About the building

The Buddhist Art Library was built in 1902 as an exhibition hall for local Nara prefecture products. It was designed by an architectural history scholar named Tadashi Sekino (1867–1935). The building is made of wood and roofed with pantiles (a type of corrugated roof tile) and uses western-style architecture techniques on its roof trusses and walls, although the exterior is primarily of Japanese style. This is a lofty building at the end of the right and left wings stretching from the high-roofed central building. The overall image of the building was modeled on Byōdōin Hō’ōdō in Uji, Kyoto. The facade has a porch decorated with a Karahafu style gable (undulating gable) with Islamic designs on the windows. The building is highly regarded as representative of modern Japanese architecture from the mid-Meiji era.
The building was later renamed the Nara Prefecture Commerce and Industry Exhibition Hall. In 1951, the hall’s management was transferred to the Japanese government, and it was used as the office of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties until 1980.
It has been used as the Buddhist Art Library since 1982. In 1983, it was registered as an important cultural property, and the management was transferred to the Nara National Museum in the same year.

Concerning the upgrade to ensure earthquake resistance

Under the construction from October. 2009 to March. 2011, the building was renovated to ensure earthquake-resistance; also restored the interior of the building to enhance its historical and cultural value. As a result of the renovation, the spacious area around central hall to west wing, the wooden arch and clearstory are resurrected to their original configuration:that of the Meiji era.
It was also modernized as a research center; provided a reading and a study rooms, reinforced the floor, and also installed confluent bookshelves.
Now we are planning to promote the historical and cultural value of this building while providing public access to the academic resources as the Buddhist Art Library, as well as preserve and utilize this modern architecture.