The Yomiuri Shimbun The Cultural Affairs Agency, the Imperial Household Agency and The Yomiuri Shimbun announced Thursday that they will embark on a new joint project, named TSUMUGU Project, to preserve and hand down Japanese works of art. They will jointly hold special exhibitions next spring as part of efforts to introduce masterpieces both at home and abroad.
Art treasures including national treasures and important cultural assets, as well as a collection of renowned artworks associated with the Imperial family housed at the Museum of the Imperial Collections (Sannomaru Shozokan), are to be passed on to future generations through the project.
Sannomaru Shozokan in the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is an art gallery run by the Imperial Household Agency that exhibits works handed down to the Imperial family. The museum opened in 1993 to exhibit about 6,300 artworks and crafts donated by the Emperor and his mother Empress Kojun, who was Emperor Showa’s wife. The number of items in the collection has increased to about 9,800 as works left by Empress Kojun and others were added.
Cultural Affairs Agency Commissioner Ryohei Miyata and Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings President Toshikazu Yamaguchi held a press conference on Thursday at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, to unveil the outline of the project and its official logo.
The first of its kind in the nation, the project is designed to preserve, repair and exhibit national treasures and other artworks that possess high cultural value in a coordinated manner, and build a system to continue their efforts long-term.
In particular, their activities will include repairing damaged artworks using proceeds from special exhibitions of the masterpieces. They also plan to preserve digital high-resolution photos of the works and post them on an online website to be set up next year.
Eyeing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the project will also develop a multilanguage service to attract foreign tourists to the country.
Two special exhibitions will be held next year at the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo as a centerpiece of the project, themed on Japanese aesthetics. At the exhibitions, national treasure “Landscapes of autumn and winter,” drawn by artist and Zen monk Sesshu Toyo in Muromachi period (early 14th century to late 16th century) will be displayed.
The first exhibition will be held from March 5 through April 29 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Emperor’s enthronement. It will focus on the beauty of Japan and exhibit such masterpieces as “Birds and Flowers through the Twelve Months,” painted by Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1829), a painter in the Edo period (1603-1867). The set of hanging scrolls, housed at Sannomaru Shozokan, is a masterpiece exhibited abroad to mark a visit by the Emperor and the Empress. Articles related to the Empress’ pursuit of silkworm breeding also will be exhibited.
On March 28, a forum to present the significance of the project will be held at the Yomiuri Otemachi Hall in Tokyo.
Planned for May 3 through June 2, the other special exhibition will show “Cypress tree,” painted by Kano Eitoku in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (late 16th century) and other works.
The project’s first repair effort will be a three-year operation to repair “Raigo of Amida (Amitabha) and Twenty-five Attendants,” a national treasure held by Chion-in temple in Kyoto painted in the late Kamakura period (14th century).