Outline of Exhibition

"Western Capital, Eastern Capital - Illustrated Cities of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period"
Period Mar 27 (Tue) - May 6 (Sun), 2007
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions

Adults ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
Elementary & junior high school students: ¥250 (¥130)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent collection included

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

Apr 2 (Mon), 9 (Mon) 16 (Mon) and 23 (Mon)

Sponsor National Museum of Japanese History

Aim of Exhibition

For many centuries the pageantry of Japan's capital cities have captured the peoples' attention. The prosperity of Japan's cities, which developed from the late Middle Ages through the Early Modern period, has been captured in numerous paintings and drawings. Rekihaku's collection includes an abundant assortment of illustrations of these cities, some of which are the oldest extant examples of their type, such as seven folding screens of scenes in and around Kyoto, folding screens of scenes of Edo, various paintings depicting a birds' eye view of Edo, pictures and nishiki-e. There has, however, been no opportunity to exhibit these pictures together in one exhibition. The aim of this special exhibition featuring mainly these illustrations found in Rekihaku's abundant collection is to provide an opportunity for the general public to see just how Japan's cities of the medieval and Early Modern periods were depicted. The exhibition focuses on Kyoto and Edo and the three ports of Nagasaki, Sakai and Yokohama. We are able to observe the emergence and gradual change over time of the depiction of city landscapes, the interpretations of the urban scenes that were depicted, and the diversity of famous places in the huge city of Edo and how they were received. Same size replicas of illustrations such as the folding screens of scenes in and around Kyoto that gave much pleasure to the people of the time are used to enable visitors to take a tour of the city. The exhibition also provides an area where visitors can have fun with picture puzzles of the famous places of Edo. We invite you to come to Rekihaku in Sakura to enjoy taking in the sights of "capitals" of bygone days.

Introduction. Pictures of Kyoto, Fiefs and Famous Places

Using what we know about the rule of fiefs in the early Middle Ages, we consider why there were no detailed depictions of Japan's capital cities in those times, based on pictures of Kyoto, the inner precincts of Kamakura temples, and depictions of Shoen and other places.

Part One. Folding Screens of Scenes In and around Kyoto and Neighboring Areas

Using two folding screens of scenes in and around Kyoto along with other similar pictures held in the Museum's collection, we trace the changes in their composition that occurred over time and also scan the images to examine the meanings of the tiniest details. By displaying a reproduction of Screen I in the exhibition hall, the exhibition enables visitors to experience the geographical features depicted in the pictures of scenes in and around Kyoto. Also on display are related materials such as woodblock prints on themes associated with Kyoto.

Part Two. A Guide to the Famous Places of Edo

In this part, we look at the kind of sweeping images that were painted of Edo, which grew into an enormous city, and present the distinctive features and diversity of the famous places of Edo using a variety of media, including geographical journals, nishiki-e and doro-e. Using materials from the Toyama family of the Hachinohe fief, we present a specific example of members of the warrior class from the provinces visiting famous sites in Edo.

Part Three. Three Ports: Nagasaki, Sakai and Yokohama

These exhibits feature illustrations of Nagasaki, Sakai and Yokohama, three port cities of the Early Modern period, and include distinctive images of each of these cities. Also presented is part of a large picture of Sakai painted in 1689 that is too big to display in its entirety at this exhibition.

Part Four. Let's Have Fun with Pictures of the Capitals

In this area, visitors to the exhibition can have fun putting together picture puzzles of life-sized replicas of the folding screens of scenes in and around Kyoto and folding screens of scenes of Edo, as well as play games based on the famous sites of Edo.

Main items on display

(Items marked with an asterisk are important cultural assets.Those not listed as belonging to other collections are items from the Museum's collection.)

  • * Paintings of the inner precincts of Jokomyo-ji temple in Sagami Province (Jokomyo-ji temple collection)
  • * Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (I) (Rekihaku)
  • * Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (II) (Rekihaku)
  • Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo
  • Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo Castle
  • Pictures of Scenes of Edo
  • Famous Restaurants of Edo (By Utagawa Hiroshige)
  • Documents of the Toyama family from the Hachinohe domain (Hachinohe City Library collection)
  • Collection of Doro-e of Famous Places in Edo and Other Provinces
  • Large 1689 Painting of Sakai
  • Picture scrolls of the villas of foreigners in Nagasaki
Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (I) Early 16th century. Important cultural asset.   Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (II) Late 16th century. Important cultural asset.
Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (I) Early 16th century. Important cultural asset.
Museum collection
 
Folding Screen of Scenes In and Around Kyoto (II) Late 16th century. Important cultural asset.
Museum collection
Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo Early Edo period   Famous Restaurants of Edo 1830-44
Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo Early Edo period.
Museum collection
 
Famous Restaurants of Edo 1830-44.
Museum collection
Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo Castle 1847
Folding Screen of Scenes of Edo Castle 1847.
Museum collection
Collection of Doro-e of Famous Places in Edo and Other Provinces Late Edo period.   Large 1689 Painting of Sakai 1689
Collection of Doro-e of Famous Places in Edo and Other Provinces Late Edo period.
Museum collection
 
Large 1689 Painting of Sakai 1689.
Museum collection

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