Nara: Sacred Images of Ancient Japan at the British Museum from October 3 to November 24

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Buddhist and Shinto Sacred Images and Treasures of Nara.

Before Tokyo and Kyoto, during the Asuka (538?-710) and Nara (710-784) periods, several capitals of Japan were established in Nara Prefecture. It was at this time that Buddhism was introduced to Japan and developed there, becoming the official religion of the imperial court. It is for this reason that you can visit some of the oldest temples in Japan in Nara, and admire many masterpieces of Buddhist art.

An exhibition of the treasures of the temples and shrines of Nara will be held at the British Museum in London, as part of the Japan – United Kingdom cultural season – and a few months before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. Fifteen works exhibits will be exhibited (for a total of nineteen pieces), including Japanese National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties; some will be visible for the first time outside of Japan. A few works from the collections of the British Museum will complete this exhibition.

After this exhibition, why not come and visit Nara to discover these treasures of Buddhist art, and many others, in the temples and sanctuaries to which they belong?

Nara Prefecture has many temples and shrines, some of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most famous is Todai-ji, in the city of Nara, where you can admire one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan: a seated Buddha, in bronze, 15 meters high. But many works of great historical value are also visible in less frequented sites. For example, the oldest Buddha statue in the archipelago is in Asuka-dera, considered the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. This small temple is located in the village of Asuka, 30 km south of the city of Nara.

It is also possible to visit the Nara National Museum. About a hundred Buddhist statues, mainly from Nara, but also from all regions of Japan, are exhibited there so that you can contemplate them from all angles. The visitor can thus observe the evolution of aesthetics and sculpture techniques over time.

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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