Outline of Exhibition

Musical Instruments Tell Stories: Tokugawa Harutomi, Feudal Lord of Kisyu Domain and His Musical Instruments
Period Jul. 10 (Tue),2012 - Sep. 2 (Sun), 2012
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries, National Museum of Japanese History
Admissions Adults: ¥830 (¥560)
Senior high school & college students: ¥450 (¥250)
* Fees in parentheses apply to groups of 20 or more
* Admission to permanent exhibitions included
* Free admission for elementary & junior high school students
* Free admission for senior high school students every Saturday
Hours 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (entrance closed at 4:30 p.m.)

Jul 17 (Tue), 23 (Mon) , 30 (Mon), Aug 6 (Mon), 20 (Mon), 27 (Mon)

Organizer National Museum of Japanese History


It has been reported that the collection of musical instruments handed down in the Kishu-Tokugawa family was put together mostly by Tokugawa Harutomi (1770 - 1853), the 10th head of the Kishu Domain. Focusing on gagaku musical instruments such as sho, hichiriki, etc., the collection consists of more than 20 different musical instruments such as hukimono (wind instruments), hikimono (stringed instruments), uchimono (percussion instruments), etc., scores, other accessories, and also accompanying documents containing instrument-related information. This is one of Japan's largest collections of ancient musical instruments with a total of 159 containers (231 items). Including those with names inscribed, the musical instruments in the collection were made in various times. The collection includes musical instruments with ancient traditions, those made in the Asian continent, and also those for tuning which are rare. The collection has been considered as a representative collection of ancient musical instruments in Japan that is very important from the viewpoint of musical instrument and music history, since it contains a wide variety and number of items of great significance.

What meaning did music have for Tokugawa Harutomi who put together those musical instruments, and under what concept was the collection made? This special exhibition displays typical musical instruments from the collection while clarifying the cultural aspect of musical instruments known from accompanying documents, etc. and studying what constituted “gaku (music)” for rulers (samurai families) and intellectuals in the Edo period.

The traditional music including gagaku is unfamiliar to us who live in modern society. We are also not able to hear the original sounds of the musical instruments handed down to us. For this reason, we will provide various means for deepening the understanding of and becoming familiar with the antique music in the exhibition. We will also exhibit enclosures such as boxes, pipes, bags, etc. which enriched the collection of musical instruments of Harutomi, and the beautiful artwork and remarkable industrial designs inscribed on the musical instruments.

Exhibition Lineup

Part I Vessels of Musical Instruments - Invitation to Traditional Music

This section explains the structures of musical instruments as “vessels playing music” and the structure of the music. This section introduces traditional musical instruments that are not familiar today and invites you into the world of traditional music through support tools that enable the creation and comparison of actual sounds.

Part II People around Musical Instruments

This section focuses on the collection of musical instruments handed down in the Kishu-Tokugawa family. The relationships between musical instruments and people are seen in the accompanying documents, etc. This section examines how the musical instruments were created, how they were handled, and the type of roles that they played in the people's cultural life from various aspects.

Part III Era of Harutomi and Music

The last half of the Edo period when the collection was made was an era when samurai families became involved in gagaku. This section considers the ideal gaku desired by samurai families as policymakers including Harutomi and searches for the ideas and views of music behind this collection.

【Main Artifacts】

* The exhibition materials will be changed during the period.
From the collection of musical instruments handed down in the Kishu-Tokugawa family (Museum collection), sho named “makuzu,” Kamakura period, sho named “hoomaru” made by Shigisan no Raison, 1241 (Ninna 2), sho named “yamanoha,” 1321 (Genko 1), hichiriki named “shigetsu,” ryuteki named “aoyagi,” renkan named “kinryu,” biwa named “hakuho,” biwa named “kagetsu,” so named “hagiku,” so named “musashino,” long Japanese zither named “ogiri,” drums, kakko, scores, tuning tools, etc. Akasaka Misono Sekisuiike Shigaku No Zu (Museum collection), Nishihama Goten Bugaku No Zu (Collection of Wakayama City Museum), 25-stringed koto (Collection of the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts)

So (13-stringed zither) named “musashino”
(Museum collection)
Shichigenkin (7-stringed zither) named “yuran”
(Museum collection)
iwa(Pear-shaped lute) named “hakuho”
(Museum collection)
Sodesho named “suzumushi”
(Museum collection)
Complete set of sho (mouth organ) named “makuzu”
(Museum collection)
Renkan named “kinryu”
(Museum collection)
Taiko (Drum)
(Museum collection)
Score of Tenchoshunoden
Score for biwa created by Toyohara Fumiaki, who was a court musician in Kyoto, and given to Harutomi in 1840 (Tenpo 10)
(Museum collection)

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