Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu 九州国立博物館
The Kyushu National Museum opened to much fanfare in 2005 and was the first national museum to open in Japan for over 100 years.
Dazaifu was the site of a government office in the Nara and Heian periods of Japanese history dealing with diplomacy with Asia. It is this rich history of interaction with the Asian mainland and the surviving art from the period that is celebrated in this high-tech museum.
Kyushu National Museum Exhibits
The striking wave-like, cedar wood and glass building that houses the massive Kyushu National Museum was designed by architect Kiyonori Kikutake (1928-2011).
The museum has five floors (with three floors open to the public) with the main exhibition galleries on the fourth floor. The interior displays match the high-tech exterior with use of high resolution video and a Super High Definition Theater.
The free to enter first entrance floor of the museum contains the museum restaurant - Green House - as well as a cafe and shop and is a fun, interactive introduction to Japan's historical and artistic relations with its Asian neighbors suitable for children.
The third floor is used for special exhibitions of both Japanese and foreign art and crafts. The fourth floor has the permanent "cultural exchange" exhibition themed as "Ocean Ways, Asian Paths". The gallery is sub-divided into five major themes each with their own "theme color".
Ancient stone tools and earthenware in the Green zone introduce the cultural interactions that took place in antiquity.
Rice cultivation began during the Yayoi Period and ancient kings were buried with a rich variety of goods. The Kofun Period saw the influx of new pottery wares brought by immigrant artisans from Korea and the custom of horse riding from the Asian continent. Ritual offerings from Okinoshima are also on display in the Red zone.
The Purple zone explains how Buddhism was introduced from Paekche in Korea and legal codes from Tang dynasty China to the capitals of Asuka, Nara and later Kyoto. Trade along the Silk Road began and the fledgling Japanese state began to send envoys to Korea and China on the perilous sea crossing between Japan and the Asian mainland.
The Blue zone highlights the growing trade in goods, people and ideas (such as Zen) between Japan and Asia from Hakata port (present-day Fukuoka) in "Merchants of the Asian Seas." The Mongol invasions and the arrival of Westerners with Christianity and firearms are also introduced.
The Orange zone charts the period of trading with the Dutch and the Chinese in Nagasaki through to the arrival of Perry's "Black Ships" in Shimoda. Japan was closed to Christianity in the Edo period and a number of fumi-e (images of Jesus or Mary suspected Christians were made to stamp on) are on display.
Kyushu National Museum Access
Kyushu National Museum
4-7-2 Ishizaka, Dazaifu-shi
Tel: 092 918 2807/ NTT Hello Dial 050 5542 8600
Hours: 9.30am to 5pm (last admission : 4.30pm); closed Monday or the next day if Monday is a national holiday
Admission: Adults 430 yen; college students 130 yen.
The Kyushu National Museum is a 10 minute walk from Nishitetsu Dazaifu Station. From Nishitetsu Tenjin Station take a train for Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station and change to the Dazaifu Line or take a Nishitetsu bus for Dazaifu that stops outside the museum.
From Hakata Station take a train to JR Futsukaichi Station and transfer to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station on foot or by bus or take a direct Nishitetsu bus from Hakata Station to the Kyushu National Museum. There are Nishitetsu buses from Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station for Dazaifu that stop outside the museum. There are also buses from Nishitetsu Dazaifu to the museum (3 minutes).
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