top of page
  • Writer's pictureAkiko Murakami

Nara was the Eastern terminal station of the Silk Road.

Silk Road

(Map: The ancient Silk Road on the Land. Source: internet)

Do you know a historic transcontinental trade route between the ancient China and the Mediterranean called "Silk Road"?

"Stretching 6,000 kilometres across the Eurasian continent, Silk Road opened up long-distance cultural and economic relations between China and several other ancient civilizations such as India, Persia (today's Iran), Arabia, Greek, and Rome."

In the 8th century, Nara was actually the Eastern end of the silk road since Japan regularly sent envoys to China during the Nara period. And the proofs are the international artifacts preserved in the Imperial repository called Shoso-in (正倉院).

Shoso-in is located behind the Todai-ji Temple with Great Buddha, and it is one of the oldest wooden buildings remaining in Todai-ji complex since 8th century. It is registered as a National Treasure, and today, the management of it is the responsibility of the Imperial Household Agency.

Surprisingly, Shoso-in treasuries have been preserved for over a millennium, survived the fires or earthquakes, nor distractions due to wars. Many of them are rare and precious and some of them have not lost their original colors.

They includes:

⚫️ Artifacts related to the Great Budda's eye opening ceremony in 752.

⚫️ Emperor Shomu's personal belongings

⚫️ Artifacts used during the Emperor's funeral and memorial services.

Glass cups and bowls, metal mirrors, music instruments, ceremonial objects, books, Buddhist sutras, medicines, spices, etc. etc..

From late October to the middle of November, for about 3 weeks, about 70 items are selected from over ten thousand treasures are selected for the annual Shoso-in Exhibition in Nara National Museum.

This is a much-awaited rare timing we can see the treasures from the ancient time with strong oriental tastes, very unique in our Japanese history.

This year, 2017, will be the 69th exhibition.

⚫️Nara National Museum

In those treasures, we can find many elegant, sophisticated, distinguished ancient Oriental patterns called Shoso-in patterns or Tenpyo (天平) patterns. They have been the sources of inspirations for the artists in many fields, and still popularly used for making many products.

I found a new brand that uses Tenpyo patterns

bottom of page