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'Splendours of Japan – Treasures from the Tokyo National Museum' at Te Papa

News from Te Papa - 24/02/06

The chance to see one of Japan’s finest samurai swords, fashioned more than 700 years ago, is rare. So too is the opportunity to view an ancient edition of the Man’yö Shü, Japan’s oldest poetry anthology, or to see exquisite Buddhist arhat scrolls. Items designated ‘National Treasures’ and ‘Important Cultural Property’ such as these, seldom seen outside Japan, will be on display in Splendours of Japan – Treasures from the Tokyo National Museum, at Te Papa from 4 March - 30 April.

Spanning Japanese history from ancient times through to the end of the Edo period in the mid-nineteenth centurySplendours of Japan showcases a spectacular selection of some 130 items offering a taste of Japan’s rich cultural heritage and artistic achievement. From realms as diverse as agriculture, science, and theatre, as well as art, the exhibition includes pottery 5000 years old, burial ornaments, samurai armour and swords, and exquisite calligraphy and woodblock prints.

Together the works give a fascinating sampling of Japan’s history – the unique products of its stone-age culture, its periods of imperial and military rule, the influences of religion and the pursuit of refinement, and the country’s interactions with the outside world and its isolation from it.

Splendours of Japan is the first fruit of a significant cultural exchange project between Te Papa and the Tokyo National Museum that has been nearly five years in the planning. This collaboration with this most important art institution in Japan provides a rare opportunity for museum visitors in this country to experience the rich expanse and elegance of Japan’s cultural heritage,’ said Dr Seddon Bennington, Te Papa’s Chief Executive.

Nozaki Hiroshi, Executive Director of Tokyo National Museum explains that while our countries are located on opposite sides of the equator, due to their marine environments there are similarities in the cultures. For example, ancient Japanese fishing tools, examples of which are included in this exhibition, resemble those used by the Mäori people.

‘Next year, an exhibition that introduces the art and culture of Mäori will be held at the Tokyo National Museum. It is our hope that understanding each other’s art and culture will enhance the friendship between the people of New Zealand and Japan,’ said Mr Hiroshi.

Encompassing the everyday and the extraordinary, the treasures in this exhibition illuminate a world that is unfamiliar to many New Zealanders. Visitors will relish the insight it offers into the beauty, elegance, intricacy, and delicacy that characterise Japanese life, art, and custom.

An exciting events programme is planned for the exhibition, commencing with martial art performances and taiko (drumming) displays throughout the opening weekend.

Events

Saturday 4 & Sunday 5: Way of the Warrior!
Banzai! Celebrate the opening of Splendours of Japan with an explosive weekend of movement and music. See powerful taiko drumming and traditional Japanese martial arts. Experience these art forms depicting ‘the way of the sword, ‘the way of the bow’, and ‘the way of the empty hand’.

11-11.10am, Taiko (Te Papa Plaza); 12-12.10pm, Taiko (Wellington Foyer); 12.10-12.20pm, Karate (Wellington Foyer); 1-1.10pm, Taiko (Te Papa Plaza); 1-1.20pm, Judo (The Marae); 1.20-1.40pm, Aikido (The Marae); 1.45-2.05pm, Karate (The Marae); 2-2.10pm, Taiko (Te Papa Plaza); 2.05-2.25pm, Iaido (The Marae); 2.25-2.45pm, Kendo (The Marae); 2.45-3.15pm, Kyudo (The Marae); 3.30-3.40pm, Taiko (Wellington Foyer).

Thursday 9 March, 6pm 7pm: Modern European art and the Japanese woodcut.
Find out how Dutch and French artists engaged with the Japanese woodcut print from Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, Te Papa's Director Art and Collection Services. Presented in association with the exhibitionSplendours of Japan, and with examples from Te Papa¹s collections. ICON, Level 2. Free entry.

Sunday 12 March, 11am 6pm: Exquisitely Japan Ikebana, Bonsai, Japanese Embroidery, and Netsuke. Experience these beautiful forms of traditional Japanese art. Wellington Foyer, Level 2. Free entry.

Splendours of Japan – Treasures from the Tokyo National Museum
4 March – 30 April 2006
The TOWER Gallery, Level 4, Te Papa
Admission charges apply


Figure of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana) Heian period, 1000-1200 ce Hanging scroll of priest Xienzi catching shrimp Nanbokucho period, 1333-1392 ce
Figure of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana) Heian period, 1000-1200 ce, Important Cultural Property. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005.
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Hanging scroll of priest Xienzi catching shrimp Nanbokucho period, 1333-1392 ce, Important Cultural Property. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005.
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Haramaki-style armour with multicoloured lacing Muromachi period, 1400-1500 ce Noh mask - manbi, Edo period, 1600-1700 ce
Haramaki-style armour with multicoloured lacing Muromachi period, 1400-1500 ce, Important Cultural Property. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005.
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Noh mask - manbi, Edo period, 1600-1700 ce. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005.
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Haniwa (tomb ornament) horse, Kofun period, 500-600 ce Tachi (slung sword), by Suzekane, Kamakura period, 1200-1300 ce
Haniwa (tomb ornament) horse, Kofun period, 500-600 ce, from Gunma prefecture. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005.
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Tachi (slung sword), by Suzekane, Kamakura period, 1200-1300 ce, National Treasure. Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum © 2005
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Photo Source: Te Papa

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