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Must-See Art and Cultural Hotspots in Japan

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Special Lecture on Manyo Ancient Studies

The Complex of Man'yo Culture is a comprehensive cultural center for ancient culture, centering on the ""Manyoshu."" It is located in Nara Prefecture, the hometown of Manyo.

The complex conducts research and study on ancient Japanese culture, and has the exhibition (Manyo Museum) to promote the culture related to the Manyo and library and information service to collect and provide information on the Manyoshu (Manyo library and information room). Also, the museum aims to serve as a comprehensive cultural facility that coexists with the archeological site by preserving the cultural assets that have been unearthed through prior excavations and by creatively utilizing them through restored exhibits and other means.

The Manyoshu is Japan's oldest anthology of poetry, containing more than 4,500 poems composed between the 5th and 8th centuries, and can be considered a classic of the Japanese mind and a cultural heritage of language. Many of the poems in this historic anthology are themed on Nara. You can find many historical spots and natural landscapes featured in Manyoshu poems across the prefecture.

Image of Manyo Day Commemorative Lecture

The Nara Prefecture Complex of Man'yo Culture conducts research and disseminates information from the point of view of Manyoshu and related ancient culture (Manyo ancient studies). Manyo ancient studies is an organic collaboration of literature, history, archaeology, and other adjacent sciences that transcends their research fields and methods. This year, we will hold the Manyo Day Commemorative Lecture and International Lecture on the themes of "Asuka and Fujiwara Ancient Capitals and Related Properties," and "Emperor Tenmu and Emperor Jito and Their Periods," on the ocassion of the 1,350th anniversary of Emperor Temmu's accession to the throne.

Main works (stored items)

The motif of this work is based on Princess Nukata's poem:


This poem expresses the momentary thrill of thinking one's lover has arrived and the disappointment of discovering that it was a trick of the wind. The painting depicts Princess Nukata waiting for Emperor Tenji in a gold line drawing against a background of mountains and temples. Ikuo Hirayama (1930-2009) was a leading contemporary painter who was energetically involved in cultural projects, as well as producing works such as his Silk Road series, which included prayers for peace.

The Poetess Princess Nukata
Drawing by Hirayama Ikuo

The motif of this work is based on one of the masterpieces of Yamabe no Akihito (date of birth and death unknown) about Mount Fuji:


The grandeur of Mount Fuji expressed by Akahito in his poem is expressed in this painting with powerful compositions and vivid colors. Painter Tamako Kataoka (1905–2008), whose style is characterized by intense colors and a bold sense of form, became the third female painter to be awarded the Order of Culture in 1989.

Mt.Fuji Seen from Tagonoura
Drawing by Kataoka Tamako

Spring Melancholy Drawing by Uemura Shoko