Names in this site follow the Japanese custom of family name first.

July 30, 2013

Asuka Historical Museum, Nara (museum reviews)

Fourteen hundred years ago, Asuka (now a quiet village) was the cultural and political center of Japan. Here for the first time a unified state was established, based on the introduction of the more advanced culture, technology and administrative systems of China and Korea. Buddhism was introduced as well and the first temples were built.

The landscape of Asuka is still dotted with the sites of palaces and temples, ancient tumulus graves, and quaint stone figures, - those last ones probably statues from the old palace gardens.

Osaka Museums
[Asuka Historical Museum]

You will find copies of those statues in the Asuka Historical Museum, both outside in the landscaped grounds and in the exhibition hall. The museum was established to display the rich archeological harvest of this area. As excavations continue, the museum collection is regularly bolstered by new discoveries, such as the ongoing excavation of the Kitora Tumulus.

The exhibition presents a historical overview, organized around the six themes of palaces, temples, tumuli graves, the Takamatsu Tumulus, stone figures and the Manyoshu poetry collection. The display consists of excavated items, models and panels with text and photos - for some visitors unfortunately only in Japanese.

Asuka Historical Museum, Nara Pref.
[Asuka Historical Museum]

The most impressive exhibit is the restored gallery of the lost Yamadadera Temple in the second exhibition hall. Here the excavated parts of the original lattice windows have been used, which predate Horyuji, the oldest existing wooden building in Japan, by fifty years. You will also find samples of the votive objects buried under the central pillar of the pagoda of Asukadera, as well as clay plaques with Buddhist figures in relief.

The most famous gravemound in Asuka is the Takamatsu Tumulus, which was excavated in 1972. The museum displays objects found in the grave chamber, such as a beautiful mirror with a pattern of vines and sea horses. And to come back to the stones, finally, besides all the copies, the museum houses the original “Sumeru stone,” an artifact in the shape of a mythical mountain, which originally formed part of a fountain.
Tel: 0744- 54-3561
601 Okuyama, Asuka-mura, Takaichi-gun, Nara-ken 634-0102
Hours: 9:00 - 16:30; CL Mon (next day if NH), NY
Access: From Kashihara-Jingumae St on the Kintetsu line take a bus bound for Okadera and get off at Asuka Daibutsu-mae; then 10 min on foot; from Sakurai St on the Kintetsu and JR lines take a bus bound for Okadera and get off at Asuka Shiryokan. A taxi from Kashihara-Jingumae St is also convenient. 
Combine a visit to this museum with a walking or cycling tour through Asuka.Website

In the Takamatsu-zuka Wall-paintings Hall, also in the Asuka area, you will find a complete replica of the famous tomb paintings (0744-54-3340; 9:00-17:00; CL NY: 15 min walk from Asuka St on the Kintetsu Yoshino Line).