Cover Graphics

Nachi pilgrimage mandala and a picture of the five realms of existence (Museum collection)

Nachi pilgrimage mandala painting
from Nachi Shrine, Kumano, reproduced from a book from the collection of Seigantoji-temple
(Museum collection)
This pilgrimage mandala depicts the scene around the Kumano Nachi Shrine, one of the three shrines of Kumano, and is indispensable for leaning about the Kumano religion that existed in the middle ages. It incorporates various sacred sites and tales in an attempt to persuade those who look at the painting to visit Nachi. Of particular interest is the Nachi waterfall in the top right corner and which itself is considered to be a kami. In the middle of the bottom of the painting we can see under the torii a boat leaving for the Fudaraku Sea as it heads to the pure land of the Kannon. Kumano nuns and other believers are thought to have carried this picture to all parts of Japan to spread belief in the Kumano religion.

Picture of a circle of the five realms of existence
(Museum collection)
This picture depicts the Buddhist view of the universe centered on reincarnation. Similar paintings are found not only in the Japanese archipelago, but have a wide distribution across the sphere of Buddhist culture. The five realms of existence, hell, hungry demons, beasts, humans, and heaven, are depicted inside the disc held by the large demon, and we have tied it in with the title of this edition's special feature.

Junichi Koike (Museum Research Department)


Special Feature:Pictures and Tales

* A study on the interpretation of pictures and the theory of pictorial historical materials (Junichi Koike)

A Witness to History

A photographic introduction to items from the collection
(Kazuto Sawada)

Special Feature:Pictures and Tales

Pictures and tales seen in pictures of the six realms of existence (Jun Takasu)
Perspective for interpreting pictures - Interpreting pictures of "mabiki" (infanticide) (Toshihiko Hisano)
The "entertaining" picture scroll "Chojugiga" - The themes and purpose for making the first scroll (Harue Soutome)


The magic of "tsumahajiki" (finger gesture) (Toru Tsunemitsu)
Votive pictures of metal items lost at sea and the belief in the dragon god of the sea (Shuichi Kawashima)

47th Rekihaku Forum

The Horizon for the Study of Interpreting Pictures (Masahiko Hayashi and Junichi Koike)

20th Research Update

International Research Conference
"Exchange of Oral Literature Between Japan and Korea"
(Toru Tsunemitsu)

Introducing Our Researchers - Part 15

What is Research into Ancient History? (Atsushi Nito)

Book Review

Bulletin of the National Museum of Japanese History, Vol. 111
- "A Study of Medieval and Early Modern Period Graveyards in Yamato"
Bulletin of the National Museum of Japanese History, Vol. 112 - "Local Societies and Basic Belief"
Reviewed by Akio Tanigawa

Book Introductions by the Author

"Shinsengumi's Place in History" by Masato Miyachi
"The Frontline of Historical Research, Vol. 2 - "The Subject of Environmental Historical Research"
by Satoru Yasumuro

Exhibition Review

Special Exhibition - "Flora that Crossed the Ocean" - Looking at the devices used to display live objects
Reviewed by Tetsuya Yamamoto

Rekihaku Chat (readers' page) November 20, 2004

Rekihaku News