Great Fake Exposition: Cultural History of Forgery and Imitation
Period Tuesday, March 10 –Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Venue Special Exhibition Galleries, National Museum of Japanese History

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.)
Closed Mondays (When Monday is a national holiday, the Museum is closed the following Tuesday.)
Organizer National Museum of Japanese History

Exhibition Highlight

  • Methodology of the regional characteristics of “fake articles.”
  • Were there mummies in Japan, too? The reality written in Perry’s diary of his visit to Japan, and the method of making mummies will be introduced.
  • Have a glimpse of the world of Mr. Mizuki, a collector in Nara Prefecture, through his collection.
  • A variety of “fake articles” from the Jurassic period to the modern age will be exhibited.
  • The newly-discovered “genuine” letter of Oda Nobunaga will be exhibited for the first time.

Outline of Exhibition

In our daily life, there are plenty of “fake articles” that deceive people simply to make money such as “foods in disguise,” “fake brands,” etc. However, “fake articles” and “genuine articles” exist in a very delicate relationship by nature, and there are many cases where they cannot be classified simply into “light and dark,” “black and white,” etc.

“Fake articles” have an important role in our lives, and have various histories. “Fake articles” also surmount “genuine articles,” and exercise their cultural creativity. Furthermore, there are some cases where “fake articles” made in a museum for study have a higher study value than the “genuine articles.”

This special exhibition will not only display “fake articles” against “genuine articles,” but also clarify the complex relationship between “fake articles” and “genuine articles.”

Representative of Exhibition

Masaru Nishitani

Masaru Nishitani

Title: Professor in Archaeology Division, National Museum of Japanese History
Specialty: History of humanity in East Asia
Main subject of study: History of livelihoods in East Asia, Japanese area study (History of relationship between humans and nature)

Exhibition Lineup


: The fake Annan potteries affair

I. Fakes in Everyday Life

: Regional characteristics of fake articles
: World of vanity and banquet - From the collection of an old family -

II. Fakes - World of fake documents and forgery

: Fake sake, and fake brand sake
: Disturbance by fake articles surrounding researchers
: Why were fake documents made? - Fake documents of the Takeda family and Tokugawa Ieyasu -
: Deep history of “Shoso-in documents”

III. World of Copies and Imitations

: Reproduced and copied block prints
: Imitation and creation of tiles - New creation by copies -
: Imitation and technique of potteries - Unexpected products by copies -
: Imitation by Jomon people - Shell bracelet -

IV. Creativity of Fake Articles

: Mermen/mermaids really existed! - Show booth, nishiki-e, and mummies of mermen/mermaids exported to the West -
: Western culture in funerals - Evolution of floral wreaths for condolence -

V. “Replicas” and “Copies” in Museums

: Replicas of fossils, and fake fossils
: Counterfeiting money - Replicas for restoration of technique -
: Replicas and copyrights of music

1) Fake Annan potteries
(Personal collection)
2) “Hawk picture” hanging scroll allegedly of Sesshu, and appraisal report
(Personal collection)
3) Mummy of merman / mermaid
(National Museum of Japanese History)
4) Bracelet from Oginodaira Site
(Tochigi Prefectural Board of Education)
5) Restored koban before and after painting
(National Museum of Japanese History)
6) “Korin Muradori” folding screen allegedly of Ike no Taiga
(Personal collection)
7) Piltdown Man (Fake fossil)
(Personal collection)
8) Letter allegedly of Oishi Kuranosuke
(Personal collection)
9) Calligraphy allegedly of Yoshida Shoin
(Personal collection)

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