13m 58s

Azekura (Buddhist Sutra Repository)

The Magic of Japanese Masterpieces

Broadcast on February 9, 2017 Available until March 31, 2029

A small, square hut with sides roughly 1.8 meters long is exhibited in the garden of the Tokyo National Museum. It is built in the so-called azekura style of piling up triangular timbers, which was used for treasure houses from the 8th century. The Tokyo National Museum’s azekura dates from the 13th century and originally stood at a temple in Nara but was transferred for reassembly at the just-completed museum in Tokyo in the latter half of the 19th century. This was the time when Buddhist buildings and artifacts were being destroyed in many parts of the country in connection with the government's policy of making Shinto the national religion. Hisanari Machida, who would later become Japan’s first ever museum director, responded by calling for old cultural properties to be protected and the establishment of a museum. He had learned about the role of museums in the modern state during his travels in Europe, and the conservation of Japan’s cultural properties began under his leadership. This small azekura is one of the precious items rescued during those difficult times.


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