Plants and Flowers Crossing over the Sea in Japanese History
Sponsor: National Museum of Japanese History
Exhibition period: Tuesday, July 13 through Sunday, September 12, 2004
Venue: National Museum of Japanese History
(Special Exhibition Galleries 1-3, Entrance, and Courtyard)
Botanical Garden of Everyday Life
Admission fee: Included in general admission fee

The history of the relationship between mankind and plants is deeply entwined with all aspects of life and has undergone numerous changes. The way of life that developed on the Japanese archipelago is closely related to not only the plant population that is native to Japan, but also to the many diverse kinds of plants that migrated to Japan. These foreign plants also brought changes to the history of our relationship with plants. Until now, there has been a tendency for our close historical involvement with plants to center on grains such as rice and wheat. However, our involvement with plants is not limited to these less diverse plants, but in fact also encompasses many flowering and ornamental plants such as the Morning Glory, Peony, herbaceous Peony, plum and chrysanthemum, gourds and melons belonging to the gourd family, fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, chili pepper, cotton and safflower, and taro and sweet potato and other roots. Furthermore, their history in Japan is not simply a matter of their gradual spread after their introduction on one occasion. Rather, our shared history is somewhat complex as many different types were brought to the Japanese archipelago on numerous occasions, with some suddenly dying out while others spread rapidly.

Although there has been research into the plant population that crossed the oceans to reach Japan that has focused on different plant species and different fields of study, there has been virtually no research that has placed this non-native plant population within the general framework of Japanese history or way of life. It is for this reason that, with the exception of some research that has focused on the history of gardens, the transmission of the history of plants with which we have had a very close relationship has been only fragmentary.

This special exhibition places the history of plants, on which our knowledge has been broadened through studies that have concentrated on individual plants, within the general framework of the Japanese way of life. Through a two-pronged exhibition consisting of the remains of plants and written documents and living witnesses that have been bred from seeds and seedlings, our aim is to deepen our understanding of the history of the relationship between Japanese people and flora that migrated to this land and to open up a new perspective for the study of Japanese history.


International Symposium on Asian Plant Diversity and Systematics

Date: Thursday, July 29 - Sunday, August 1, 2004
Excursion: Monday, August 2, 2004
Venue: National Museum of Japanese History
Web-site: http://www.soc.nii.ac.jp/jsps/iapt2004/