Outline of Exhibition

The Interaction in Medieval East Asian Sea
Period

National Museum of Japanese History [ Access ]
Wednesday, March 23 to Sunday, May 22, 2005
Osaka Museum of History
Wednesday, July 6 to Monday, September 5, 2005
Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum
Saturday, September 17 to Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hours 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (no entrance after 4:30 p.m.)
Admissions

Adults / ¥1,200 (¥900)
Senior high school & college students / ¥800 (¥400)
Elementary & junior high school students / ¥400 (¥200)
*Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more

Closed 3/28, 4/4.11.18.25, 5/9.16
Sponsors National Museum of Japanese History and Mainichi Shimbun
Co-sponsors Osaka Museum of History and Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum
Support Agency for Cultural Affairs, Korean Embassy in Japan and Korean Cultural Center
Cooperation Japan Air Lines and the Tokyo Club

Sea Routes of East Asia During the Middle Ages - the Jewel of Asia

Since ancient times, the seas of Asia have linked one region with another and, as sites for the mutual exchange of people, objects, culture and technology, they became a cradle of history, serving as a driving force for the reforms that brought new eras. In this exhibition we make use of a diverse range of materials such as archaeological, written, art and folk materials to present the history of this interchange and the glittering cultures that developed as peoples influenced one another with the help of the seas of East Asia from the 12th through 16th centuries in China, the Korean Peninsula, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands.

Folding screen depicting the arrival of "Nanban (southern barbarians)" in Japan (partial. Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Various links were first formed between different regions at around the time of the Song dynasty in China, heralding a new age of interchange that could be called the age of great navigation in East Asia. This interchange mediated by the seas not only linked one country while founded on a Chinese- centered world view, but the seas of East Asia also bustled with the activities of maritime merchants for whom the sea was a communal world that paid no heed to national borders or nationalities. With interchange across the seas as its cornerstone, this era was the most glittering era in all Asian history. The encounters between Asia and Europe that began in the 16th century altered these interchanges and people's view of the world as they expanded to a global level. Interchanges that flourished across the seas of Asia gradually became confined to a national framework. Today, in an age when the world is on the cusp of the wave of globalization, we present this perspective on Asia that takes a close look at the maritime regions of East Asia during the Middle Ages that together formed a world that was not connected by the usual confluence of national borders and countries.

Ceramic ware(Kwangju National Museum of Korea)

Ceramic ware
(Kwangju National Museum of Korea)

Celadon with an inlaid chrysanthemum pattern(Salvaged from Biando Island. National Maritime Museum of Korea)

Celadon with an inlaid chrysanthemum pattern
(Salvaged from Biando Island. National Maritime Museum of Korea)

Celadon iron-glazed Korean drum with peony pattern(from the Wando wreck. National Maritime Museum of Korea)

Celadon iron-glazed Korean drum with peony pattern
(from the Wando wreck. National Maritime Museum of Korea)

Map of Asia by Abraham Ortelius(National Museum of Japanese History)

Map of Asia by Abraham Ortelius
(National Museum of Japanese History)

Shogi (chess) pieces and tags inscribed with the year

Shogi (chess) pieces and tags inscribed with the year "1323"
(National Maritime Museum of Korea)

 

Materials from sunken ships from Sinan, Korea - Sunken ships in East Asia and salvage materials

Materials from sunken ships tell us about the trading ships that plied the seas of East Asia. In this exhibition we display materials from a Sinan wreck that sunk off the coast of the Korean peninsula on its way to Japan after leaving its Chinese port in 1323. Around 20,000 items of ceramic ware have been found from this ship, including tenmoku tea bowls and hand- worked celadon. Also on display are salvaged items from sunken ships discovered off Korea, including items from the Wando wreck, salvaged materials from Doripo and from Biando Island. This is the first time that these recently discovered valuable items of superb Goryeo celadon and other wares have been shown in Japan.

This exhibition is the first of its kind to gather relics salvaged from sunken ships that plied international and domestic shipping routes in East Asia from the 12th century through the 15th century, including items salvaged from wrecks in Japan.

Folding screen depicting the arrival of "Nanban (southern barbarians)" in Japan (partial. Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Folding screen depicting the arrival of "Nanban (southern barbarians)" in Japan
(partial. Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Water holders in the shape of tri-colored birds from southern China(National Museum of Japanese History)

Water holders in the shape of tri-colored birds from southern China
(National Museum of Japanese History)

Pottery with characters written in sumi ink(Excavated in Hakata. Fukuoka City Archaeology Center)

Pottery with characters written in sumi ink
(Excavated in Hakata. Fukuoka City Archaeology Center)

Port towns of the Middle Ages and imported objects

In this exhibition we turn the spotlight on the port towns that were opened up in various parts of Japan for conducting trade with East Asia and take a close look at the trade and interchanges that occurred. The exhibits in the display on the port of Sakai include ceramic wares brought to Japan for use in tea ceremonies and screens showing the arrival of "Nanban (southern barbarians)" in Japan. Through this combination of pictures and ceramic objects we have created a three- dimensional picture of these port towns. We also use pictures depicting contemporary scenes as well valuable items that have been passed down over the generations to show the significance of these items imported to Japan and how they were used. We take a close look at these beautiful imported objects that created a new tradition in the world of the Japanese warrior.

Fukutomi Tale scroll(Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Fukutomi Tale scroll
(Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Four-lobed celadon jar with an inlaid chrysanthemum pattern(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)

Four-lobed celadon jar with an inlaid chrysanthemum pattern
(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)

Carved lacquer food box with pictures of the eight immortals(Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Carved lacquer food box with pictures of the eight immortals
(Idemitsu Museum of Arts)

Bowl with blue and red glaze(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)

Bowl with blue and red glaze
(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)

Bowl with blue and red glaze(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)

Bowl with blue and red glaze
(Yamaguchi Prefectural Hagi Uragami Museum)