Outline of Exhibition

Beech Forests and the World of Kijiya Woodworkers

Bijin Forest, Matsunoyama, Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture

From ancient times to the present day, in virtually all aspects of providing food, clothing and shelter mankind has processed and used a variety of plants depending on their intended application. For this fiscal year, we have chosen the theme of wooden items made using lathes and the trees from which they were made. The exhibition tracks the changes that took place to beech trees and beech forests in Japan's Early Modern and Modern periods when kijiya (woodworkers) led a migratory life as they searched for wood for their craft. Broadleaf trees such as horse chestnut, beech and zelkova were generally used to make bowls and trays, and most of this wood was felled from native forests. Beech, which grows mainly deep in the mountains, is the most abundant type of broadleaf forest in Japan today. The use of beech increased along with growing demand for lacquerware, and kijiya would move on in search of a new forest when the supply of wood at a particular forest had been exhausted. There are known examples of repeated migration where kijiya returned to regenerated forests within a particular region every 100 years or so. Kijiya did not necessarily keep moving, as they also used the land left over from beech felling to settle down and return to farming, or worked in forests of Japanese cedar or cypress trees.

The overarching theme of this exhibition is the use of beech forests and the changes they went through, but it also aims to deepen visitors' understanding of wooden items made using a lathe and the types of wood that were used. Examples from all over Japan are featured in panel displays, and there are exhibits of wood specimens and products.

Period Feb 10 (Tue)- Mar 29 (Sun), 2009
Venue Botanical Garden of Everyday Life, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions

¥100
Groups of 20 or more: ¥50 per person
* Free admission for children junior high school age and younger
* Free admission for high school students every Saturday

Hours 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(no entrance after 4:00 p.m.)
Closed

Feb 16 (Mon), 23 (Mon),
Mar 2 (Mon), 9 (Mon), 16 (Mon), and 23 (Mon)

Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History

Exhibition Lineup

The exhibition in the Azuma-ya in the Botanical Garden of Everyday Life features one lathe used for woodworking, ten different types of wood that have been worked into round shapes, five panels, five items made using a lathe, including Oyama and Edo spinning tops, as well as information panels. Information sheets will also be available.

Autumn leaves in a man-made beech forest (Bijin Forest, Matsunoyama, Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture)

Autumn leaves in a man-made beech forest
(Bijin Forest, Matsunoyama, Tokamachi City, Niigata Prefecture)

Wood specimen (beech)

Wood specimen (beech)

A modern-day kijiya making an Oyama spinning top

A modern-day kijiya making an Oyama spinning top

Oyama spinning tops

Oyama spinning tops

Note: Please note that items in the exhibition are subject to change.