Last month Mewby and I went down to Nara and took in the Kojiki exhibition currently ongoing at Nara Prefectural Art Museum. I would happily recommend the exhibition as a fascinating and comprehensive exploration of every aspect of Japan’s oldest book. Whether, you are interested in the deepest roots of Japanese culture, ancient mythology and the glorious art it has inspired, or in the very dodgy political interpretations that have attached themselves to the book, it’s all there for you in the Kojiki exhibition. I wrote a bit about it for John Dougill’s Green Shinto blog, and he was kind enough to post my review today.
The Kojiki or Record of Ancient Matters is a collection of myths detailing the creation of the Japanese archipelago, along with stories of the first Gods, heroes and emperors. Compiled in 712 it is the oldest book in Japanese. It is also notoriously difficult to read, even in translation. The exhibition’s own stated aim is to overcome this difficulty and help the visitor to look beyond the text’s ancient language and obscure cosmological convictions, to the lives and emotions of the people from whose culture these legends sprang. To do this they have gathered art and archaeological materials from city museums and private locations across Japan that provide a thoroughly immersive Kojiki experience. The result is a comprehensive overview of this book’s place in Japan’s cultural history. We spent a good afternoon at the exhibition learning that the text of the Kojiki, and its mythological contents, have been not only a rich source of creative inspiration, but also historically of propaganda and political influence. In both regards it is a fascinating story!
You can read the rest of this article here: http://www.greenshinto.com/wp/2014/12/04/kojiki-exhibition/
The good news is that the Kojiki exhibition is FREE for foreigners, but you’d better be quick as it finishes on December 14th. You can find more details in Japanese and a map to the Museum are here: http://www.pref.nara.jp/miryoku/daikojikiten/