Gallery Two explores Japanese culture and daily life between the late 8th and 16th centuries, spanning the Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi, and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. It focuses on the graceful aristocratic culture of the Heian court; the everyday lives of military families in the vicinities of Kamakura and Ichijodani; and the world of commoners in which occupations of all kinds flourished. The gallery also gives attention to international relations with East Asia and to Japan's first encounter with the West.

Court Culture (10th - 12th Centuries)East Versus West (12th - 15th Centuries)Daimyo and Uprisings (15th - 16th Centuries)Commoner Life and Culture (14th - 16th Centuries)Japan in the Maritime Age (15th to mid - 17th Centuries)History of Printing (8th - 17th Centuries)

Court Culture (10th - 12th Centuries)

Out of the Sinocized court culture established in earlier times, there blossomed during the Heian period a uniquely Japanese court culture known as the Yamato court culture which was characterized by strong aristocratic, feminine and urban elements. It was during this period that the Japanese phonetic syllabaries (hiragana and katakana) were created. This freedom to record the Japanese language in written form led to the development of a Japanese literature distinct from of Chinese literature. This display focuses on the life of the aristocrats who lived during this time.

View from the entrance
Clothing of Heian-period aristocrats
The formal ceremonial court costume for men was the sokutai. Men also wore noshi and kariginu on less formal occasions. The formal wear for women was the nyobo shozoku.
Interior with Heian-period furniture
Part of a typical 12th-century aristocratic residence has been reconstructed here based on contemporary illustrations.

East Versus West (12th - 15th Centuries)

After the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate in eastern Japan, the country became a nation divided by two leading centers: the military government based in Kamakura in the east and the imperial capital of Kyoto in the west. The regional differences became even more pronounced with transportation in the east being mainly by land (horses) and in the west by sea. In this display, the contrast between the eastern and western regions is highlighted by a focus on Kamakura, the headquarters of warrior-class governance, and Kyoto, the center of the western economy dominated by the shoen system of land management.

A general view of a display featuring the military clans in eastern Japan,transportation and commerce in the Inland Sea, and a Buddhist sculpture
The Buddhist sculpture represents a seated Yakushi Nyorai Buddha (Important Cultural Property, Yakushido in Tochigi Prefecture).Other components of the display include a scale reproduction of a warrior's residence, and a section describing the ports and transportation system of the Inland Sea.
Model of Kamakura
Scale replica of Fukuoka City in Bizen during the 14th century
The city of Fukuoka in Bizen (now Okayama Prefecture) as it appears in the Kamakura-period illustrated handscroll, "Life of Priest Ippen" (Ippen shonin eden) is reproduced here in a model.

Daimyo and Uprisings (15th - 16th Centuries)

During this period, people in each social class in every region of Japan developed new, horizontal social and political ties. People in villages instituted their own laws and stirred up revolts to demand cancellation of debts and tax reduction, while local landowners formed alliances among themselves in order to control such uprisings. In contrast, the lords of larger domains (daimyo) strove to unify their power which was based on master-servant relationships. This display shows a daimyo residence, as well as the state of villages and cities of the time.

View of the gallery
Scale model reproductions of Lord Asakura's mansion (16th century) and the streets of Kyoto (Shijo and Muromachi) at end of the Sengoku period.
Scale model reproduction of Lord Asakura's residence at Ichijodani Castle (16th century)

A folding screen painting of "Scenes In and Around Kyoto"

(right screen from a pair of folding screens, Rekihaku "A" version, 16th century)
This display presents the folding screen painting, "Scenes In and Around Kyoto." In addition to the Rekihaku screens (formerly known as the Machida screens), one can examine reproductions of the Uesugi version and the Tokyo National Museum version of the same theme. The Rekihaku screens can be viewed in greater detail in the "Web Gallery" section.

Commoner Life and Culture (14th - 16th Centuries)

The word "upheaval" aptly describes the marked movement of commoners, the lowest social class, to the forefront of the historical and cultural stage during the second half of Japan's Middle Ages. At the end of the Kamakura period, the energy and activities of commoners bloomed, agricultural techniques advanced sharply, and the lives of people in mountain and fishing villages stabilized. This display shows a variety of commoners' professions, as well as agricultural and manufacturing

A view of the display featuring theater arts and artisans
This corner presents the ippuku-issen tea vendor (one cup for one coin) and the technique of sawing with the large two-man saw (oga).
The large saw (oga)
During the Muromachi period, the large two-man saw called oga was introduced from China. By making the lumbering of logs possible, it induced a technological revolution in architecture.
Views of a village meeting and of an agricultural village
This corner presents a model of a restored water mill (14th century).

Japan in the Maritime Age (15th to mid - 17th Centuries)

An international framework of relations had formed in East Asia with China at its center, but advances of European powers into East Asia rocked this cultural order and brought many products of western civilization to Japan. Above all, the introduction of firearms and Christianity had a profound impact on Japanese culture. During the Sengoku period, Japan's military strategy changed fundamentally, and military organization, as well as the differentiation of professional soldiers from farmers increased sharply. Such changes eventually led to a unified political government and a powerful centralized state.

View of the gallery
A reproduction of a Japanese seventeenth-century folding screen painting depicting European visitors can be seen in the foreground. A scale model of a trading ship authorized by the shogunate appears in the background.
Introduction of Christianity
Western culture influenced Japanese life and culture during one century.
Introduction of firearms
Because Japanese firearms differ from Western firearms in the direction of their fuse holder and their mechanical parts, and because their shape corresponds to Southeast Asian models, it is thought that Japanese firearms represent a revised Southeast Asian model.

History of Printing (8th - 17th Centuries)

Printing and book publishing flourished in China during the Song Dynasty, and many books were exported to Japan. The influence of such books led to the publication of Buddhist sutras during the mid-Heian period in Japan, followed eventually by the publication of books of many genres. While the first publishers were temples located in the Kyoto and Nara regions, publishing gradually spread to other provinces. Books ranged from Buddhist and Confucian texts to Chinese poetry collections, and Japanese literature, such as Tales of Genji written in flowing kana script. Displays are changed every month.

A view of the gallery
A Song-period chonicle of the history of the late Han Dynasty (National Treasure, 12th century)
This is an example of a Chinese publication imported to Japan. The text displayed here describes Himiko, the Queen of the Eastern Barbarians (Japan at that time).