Applying for the Use of Images and Other Media
Downloading Images of Cultural Properties in the Nara National Museum Collection
Images of cultural properties that are in the collection of the Nara National Museum are available to the public through the Collection Database, which can be used in English, and the Image Database. Only images of objects owned by the Nara National Museum can be downloaded from our online databases. The images that can be downloaded have an approximate resolution of over 4,000 pixels on their long side. (“Size S” corresponds to size A4 paper.)
Images of cultural properties that are not in the collection of the Nara National Museum are catalogued in the Image Database. The Image Database has information on images in the Museum’s archives, including photographs of objects entrusted to the Museum and pictures of cultural properties taken in advance of an exhibition. However, only images of cultural properties owned by the Nara National Museum are displayed in the Image Database. At present, the Image Database can only be used in Japanese. Images of works that do not belong to the Museum collection and image files with a higher resolution than those that can be downloaded from the databases will only be provided once you have completed your application for image permissions. Please refer to the below application instructions and submit the requisite documents to receive these images.
Images of cultural properties owned by the Nara National Museum—those in the Collection Database—can be downloaded and used for the non-commercial purposes listed below (and within the bounds of certain terms and conditions) free of charge and without submitting an application.
- As an academic resource that will not be published (i.e. in reports, powerpoints, and presentations);
- In slides or handouts prepared for class (or as a study guide, homework, etc.) by teachers and students;
- In event announcements and leaflets prepared by schools, local clubs and societies, or NPOs;
- To make non-commercial sculptural reproductions or prints to be used for reference or study that will not be sold.
In each of the cases above, please clearly indicate that the original work is in the collection of the Nara National Museum. (For example, underneath the image you can write “Courtesy of the Nara National Museum” or “From the Collection of the Nara National Museum, Nara.”)
- For private viewing and printing, a computer or phone wallpaper, and other such personal uses;
- For other uses that do not involve providing or redistributing materials to third parties.
You must formally apply for permission from the Nara National Museum for uses of images of objects in the Museum collection beyond the scope of these conditions. You must also apply for permission if you would like to use images of objects that are not owned by the Nara National Museum. Please make reference to the below application instructions and submit the requisite materials.
As mentioned, images of objects that are not in the collection of the Nara National Museum—for example, images of works that are on loan from temples or private collectors and photographs of cultural properties in the Museum’s archives—are catalogued in the Image Database. Photographs highlighting details of objects in the Museum’s collection and images of works undergoing conservation can be found in this database as well. One can access information about the images in our archives (including the Image No. they have been assigned) in our Image Database, but only images of cultural properties owned by the Nara National Museum will be displayed.
Unfortunately, the Image Database can only be used in Japanese. If you are unable to work with the Image Database in Japanese, please be in touch with the Archives Department (See “Contact Us” below) about the image(s) you are trying to find.
Please prepare your application documents and send them as an email attachment or by fax to the Archives Department at the Nara National Museum. Once we have gone through these materials we will contact you. After you have heard from us, please send us the original documents by mail as well. (See “Where to Send your Application Documents” below.) The application is considered complete when the original documents have arrived at the museum. It takes around two weeks from the receipt of the original application documents to complete the entire process of granting formal permission and providing you with the image(s) you have applied to use. Please factor in enough time as you prepare your application.
1. Request for Image Use
2. Order Summary
You are asked to provide the “Image No.” on the Order Summary that you submit. If you do not know the Image No. for the photograph you hope to use but there is a particular angle or detail you are trying to find, please provide us with a copy of that image and/or a description of what you need in your application. For example, you can write in the “Image No.” column of the Order Summary “picture of the Yakushiji lion shot from a diagonal,” “close-up of object’s face,” “detail of the robe,” or “full body seen from the front.” Alternatively, you can email us before submitting your application with a description of what you are looking for and we can help you to locate the correct Image No.
3. Letter of Permission from the Owner of the Cultural Property (Scan and Photocopy)
If you seek an image of a cultural property that is not in the collection of the Nara National Museum, you must first obtain written permission from the owner of the cultural property appearing in the image. Unless you are faxing your application materials, please scan the letter that the owner provides and attach it with your application. Then, when you mail your application to us, please include a photocopy of this written permission. Please keep the original letter in a safe place should the need arise to prove you have obtained permission from the cultural property’s owner at a later point.
4. Copy of the Image
Please include a copy of the image(s) you would like to use if you have one and/or an image (or images) of the cultural property. Providing an image that clarifies your desired camera angle or detail is particularly helpful.
5. Documentation on the Print/Publication, Program, or Project
Please include documentation that helps us to understand how you intend to use the image(s) in your application in the publication, program, or project for which you are trying to obtain image permissions. There is no set format for this documentation. We would like receive as much as possible of the following, knowing that they are subject to change:
Print/Publication: Summary/description of the printed material/publication’s subject and content, table of contents, publisher, number of pages in the publication, anticipated circulation/print run, anticipated date of printing/publication, where and at what price will print/publication be sold, etc.;
Program: Summary/description of program’s subject and content, directors/producers, network, where it will be broadcast, date and time of airing, length of program, sponsors, etc.;
Project: Summary/description of project, anticipated traffic to website (if applicable), website address, affiliated companies or institutions, etc.
6. Earlier Permissions Document(s) Issued by the Nara National Museum
Only in cases where an image or media is being reused.
If you are applying to use an image you have in your possession that you have used in the past in a print or publication, program, or project that is separate from the one for which you applied to use it, a new application is necessary. Please include any earlier permissions documents issued by the Nara National Museum with this new application. Please also write the earlier Licensing No. in the Notes section of the Request for Image Use.
7. How to Submit your Application Materials
First, please email your application materials to us as an attachment. You can also fax them to us.
Email: photo_narahaku * nich.go.jp (please replace the * with an @ sign)
Fax: (+81) 0742-22-7221
Once you have emailed or faxed your application materials to us, please wait to hear back about your application in case there is anything to correct or clarify. After you have heard from us, please send your completed application to:
Archives Department, Curatorial Division
Nara National Museum
50 Noboriōji-chō, Nara City
Nara Prefecture, JAPAN 〒630-8213
Attn: Image Permissions
Points to Keep in Mind
- When requesting an image of a cultural property in the collection of the Nara National Museum, please first check whether or not the cultural property appears in our Collection Database. If it does, please make note of the Image No. for the image(s) you would like to use. We would be grateful if you could write down the Image No.(s) on your Order Summary. Each image in our database has an Image No. starting with the letter A, D, or H followed by six digits. If you cannot find the image(s) you are looking for in the Collection Database, please contact us by email with a description of the image(s) you seek; we will help you locate the Image No. Or, if you are able to use it in Japanese, please try searching the Image Database. For images of cultural properties that are not in the collection of the Nara National Museum, the Image Database displays only numbers instead of images.
- If you cannot find the image(s) you are looking for or its Image No. in our Collection Database or our Image Database, please contact us by email or fax. We would be grateful if you could specify how you hope to use the image(s) with your inquiry and include a copy of the/each image if you have it. Alternatively, you can write on your Order Summary the name of the cultural property depicted in the/each image, identify its/their owner(s), and describe the photograph(s) you hope to use (i.e. “frontal view of the entire body”, “right diagonal of half body”, “full object”, “detail” etc.).
- If you are reusing an image that you already have or if you are republishing an image in a new edition of a book for which you have applied to use an image, you must re-submit a complete application. As mentioned above, please be sure to include a copy of any earlier permissions documents you have received from the Nara National Museum and write the earlier Licensing No. on your Request for Image Use form. Re-printings and re-releases of books and rebroadcasts of programs that are published without revisions do not require a new permissions application, but we ask that you please notify us by email or fax. Be sure to inform us of the company or organization, coordinator, director or editor, publishing house or network, anticipated date of publication or airing, the Licensing No. you received with your initial application, and other such pertinent information.
Four fees are charged for every permissions request: the Image Licensing Fee, the Image Preparation Fee, the Processing Fee, and Shipping. Should you opt to download the image(s) you would like to use from our Collection Database (or from our Image Database), the Image Preparation Fee will be waived and there is no charge for shipping. The Image Licensing Fee and the Image Preparation Fee are charged per image, not per order.
The rates listed below do not include tax.
Rates for the Image Licensing Fee
|Purpose of Use||Rates|
(books, magazines, exhibition catalogues, research monographs, edited volumes, etc.)
Small Size (A4 and below; long edge 29.7 cm; 350 dpi)
Medium Size (A3 and below; long edge 42 cm; 300 dpi)
Large Size (Long edge over 42 cm; in excess of 300 dpi)
(broadcast programs, webpages, e-books, digital editions, etc.)
- Please note that we cannot provide images larger than size A1 (84.1 cm long edge, approx. 300 dpi)
- If your purpose of use is not listed above, please consult with the Archives Department.
- When orders are submitted by the national, prefectural, or municipal government towards educational, academic, or cultural projects, the Image Licensing Fee may be waived at the discretion of the museum.
Rates for the Image Preparation Fee
|Type of Image||Rates|
(Color or Black & White)
|1,000 JPY per image|
|Photographic Print||Size 2L 1,000 JPY
Size A4 1,500 JPY
Size A3 2,000 JPY
(As long as this is not to be used in a print/publication or digital context)
|Black & White 100 JPY
Color 200 JPY
The Image Preparation Fee is waived in the following cases:
- You are downloading the image(s) you would like to use from our Collection Database or Image Database.
- You are reusing an image in the same way that you initially applied to use it (i.e. a reprinting, a rebroadcast)
- You are using an image reproduced from a publication
Rates for the Processing Fee
|Fee per order
(domestic and international)
|Fee for receiving a
(Cost depends on institution, exchange rates, etc.)
We prefer to provide images and media using cloud storage; the delivery fee is waived when files are shared in this way. However, orders involving a large number of images and/or a great deal of data will be sent to you by mail, saved on a DVD. Please refer to the below table for the shipping fee charged when orders are fulfilled using a DVD.
A shipping fee is also charged in fulfilling requests for photographic prints, and printed copies.
|Cost per order
|Cost per order
|Cost of Postage|
- We prefer to provide images and media using cloud storage, though orders involving a large number of images and/or a great deal of data will be sent to you by mail, saved on a DVD. A shipping fee is only charged when orders are fulfilled using a DVD.
Delivery of Permissions Documentation
Once permission has been granted, we will send the Image Licensing Letter and an Invoice to the applicant by mail. Please keep these materials in a safe place should you need to submit proof that you are rightfully making use of the image(s) or media we have licensed down the line.
Image Management and Protocol
Please take care of the image(s) and/or media with which you are provided once we have processed your order. After you have used them in line with your permissions request, please delete the image(s), media, and any related data immediately. Please discard prints or any digital media like DVDs as soon as you are finished with them; it is not necessary to return these to the museum.
Scope of Image Permissions
Images and other media can only be used in line with the purpose outlined in your application (i.e. according to the options you select on your Request for Image Use) and written in the Image Licensing Letter; it can only be used by the parties the application and licensing documentation indicates. Should images or media be used beyond the scope of the licensing agreement, in violation of its terms, or towards a purpose distinct from the one(s) outlined in the application, permission will be suspended and subsequent permissions requests will be declined.
Archives Department, Curatorial Division
Email: photo_narahaku * nich.go.jp (please replace the * with an @ sign)
Fax: (+81) 0742-22-7221