National Treasure Collection

Red and White Plum Blossoms

2020.01.24|Fri| - 2020.03.17|Tue|


The Museum’s collection, which were acquired by Okada Mokichi (1882-1955) in most part, mainly comprises works of Oriental art from Japan, China and other Asian countries. One of the most outstanding items in the collection is the Red and White Blossoms by Ogata Kōrin—a pair of folding screens acclaimed as the greatest masterpiece of the artist. Two plum trees—red and white—draw a contrast against the gold background. His designs are stylish even today, with the iconic water flow in the middle.

Three National Treasures housed in the Museum are on display, including the Tea-leaf Jar with a design of Wisteria (Nonomura Ninsei) and the calligraphy album Tekagami Kanboku-jō. Select masterpieces also accompany the exhibition, including the Lady under a Tree and the Illustrated Sutra of Past and Present Karma as well as the Cosmetic Box with a design of a landscape in maki-e and Large Celadon Jar.

Visitors will also be enjoying the plum orchard in full bloom, a nice addition to the day at the exhibition.


RED AND WHITE PLUM BLOSSOMS Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716)
Edo period, 18th c.
National Treasure

The trunk of the white plum tree is almost entirely outside of the screen, while the trunk of the red plum tree is almost entirely within, creating a dramatic contrast. A stream runs in the middle, producing an impression of expansion. The elegantly stylized plum flowers, water rings and the tree trunks all combine to yield a deep sense of rhythm and a stunning decorative effect.


Nara–Muromachi periods
National Treasure

One of the three best collections of outstanding calligraphy known today, the other two being Moshiogusa in the Kyoto National Museum Collection and Minuyono-tomo in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts Collection. Kanbokujō, meaning a Castle of Brush and Ink, contains 311 pieces of excellent calligraphy from the Nara to the Muromachi periods.


TEA-LEAF JAR Nonomura Ninsei
Edo period, 17th c.
National Treasure

This tea-leaf jar is known as the most famous of the many masterpieces by Nonomura Ninsei. The master of Kyoto ware decorated the jar in colorful overglaze enamel designs. It is regarded as a symbol of the refined culture of Kyoto. Blooming wisteria flowers are painted over a warm white glaze in enamels of red, purple, gold and silver in an ingenious composition that perfectly fits the elegant shape of the jar, featuring thin walls of uniform thickness. Ninsei was known for his exceptional skill at the potter’s wheel. The jar bears a large stamp mark reading "Ninsei" on the base. It was passed down in the Kyōgoku family of the Marugame domain, present-day Kagawa prefecture.


Nara period, 8th c.
Important Cultural Property

The Ingakyō (Past and Present Sutra of Karma) is a work comprising four volumes, telling the story of Buddha’s life. E-ingakyō is the illustrated version with pictures added in the upper half of each scroll. This painting is a fragment from Volume 4 and contains eight scenes, including “Buddha’s First Teaching.” It is a valuable example of Nara period painting, only a few of which remain today.


China, Sui dynasty, 6th c.
Important Cultural Property

This small gilt bronze statue represents a slender and baby-faced Kannon wearing a crown decorated with the statuette of a seated Nyorai. She holds a sacred treasure in the right hand while pinching the divine robe with the left hand. Rich ornaments embellish the body which is slightly slanting backward in position. The calm countenance and the robe design demonstrate the characteristic features of the Sui dynasty statues. The beautiful openwork of seven statuettes of buddha and the floral arabesque decorate the flame-shaped halo.


Kamakura period, 14th c.
Important Cultural Property

The box bears scenes of rafts, cormorant fishing and landscape. Inside the box, herons and soaring birds are depicted in a variety of sophisticated lacquer techniques. During the Kamakura period, the maki-e technique developed further, enabling realistic and three-dimensional effects on lacquerware.


Guan ware
China, Southern Song dynasty, 12th–13th c.

The Jiaotanxia kiln, named after its location at the foot of Tortoise Hill close to Jiaotanxia, produced this jar. Because of the high iron content in the clay, Jiaotanxia ware has a deep, alluring color and is characterized by miniscule irregular crackles that cover the entire glazed surface. This elegant and refined jar is an outstanding example and a renowned masterpiece.


China, Tang dynasty, 8th c.
Important Cultural Property

This painting was brought to Japan by the Central Asia expedition party led by Ōtani Kōzui, an abbot of the Nishi-honganji temple in Kyoto, believed to be excavated from the Karahoja near Turpan. It reflects the customs and practices observed in the 8th century. A particularly rare and valuable example of Tang painting on paper.