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Friday, Nov. 2, 2012
A treasure trail ends in Nara
By TOMOKO OTAKE
The ancient capital of Nara is celebrating arts of all types, both old and new.
Visitors have been lining up daily at the Nara National Museum, where the annual exhibition of Shosoin treasures is being held. Running through Nov. 12, the 64th exhibition presents a selection of arts and crafts that belonged to the Imperial Family in the seventh and eighth centuries and which were preserved at the log-cabin-style Shosoin treasure repository of Todaiji Temple in central Nara until soon after World War II, when they were relocated to a purpose-built concrete facility.
This year, 64 pieces have been pulled out of the collection for the exhibition. Nine of these treasures are being showcased for the first time. Of particular interest is the famous Raden Shitan no Biwa lute, a red sandalwood five-stringed instrument adorned with elaborate white mother-of-pearl inlays. Another must-see item is Ruri no Tsuki, a blue glass cup. Last exhibited in 1994, it's one of the treasures left behind by Emperor Shomu (701-756). The vessel is believed to have traveled the Silk Road.
Meanwhile, Hanarart, an ongoing contemporary art event taking place across the prefecture, is a chance to see what local artists are making. Continuing through Nov. 11, the event takes place at 15 locations in six cities including Koriyama, Yagi and Miwa. Many of the works are displayed inside traditional buildings from the Edo and Meiji periods, such as a temple, a brewery and wooden private residences.