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Wed, Mar 27, 2024

Tracing 850 years of Pure Land Buddhism history at Tokyo National Museum


National Treasure
Welcoming Descent of Amida (Amitābha) and Twenty-five Bodhisattvas, Known as Haya Raigō (the “Rapid Welcoming Descent”)
Kamakura period, 14th century
Chion-in Temple, Kyoto

Priest Honen (aka Honen-bo Genku, 1133-1212), who studied teachings of the esoteric Tendai school of Buddhism at Mt. Hiei (Enryaku-ji temple), developed his ideas and came to believe that anyone could achieve salvation and be born into the Pure Land (Western Paradise) of Amida (Amitabha Buddha) by repeatedly chanting Namu Amida Butsu (I seek refuge in Amida). In 1175, he founded Jodo Shu, Japan’s first Pure Land school of Buddhism.


Apr 16 (Tue) – Jun 9 (Sun), 2024

Tokyo National Museum
(Ueno Park, Tokyo)

*See outline below for details

To mark the 850th anniversary of the founding of Jodo Shu, the Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park, Tokyo), The Yomiuri Shimbun — a national newspaper publisher in Tokyo — and other institutions are jointly hosting a special exhibition to highlight the life of Honen and the long-standing history of the school. Artistic treasures and scriptures kept at Chion-in (Kyoto), the head temple of the school, and other temples across Japan — including a number of government-designated national treasures and important cultural properties — will be gathered for display at Tokyo National Museum’s Heiseikan in spring/summer 2024.

Portrait of Master Hōnen, known as Takanobu no miei
Kamakura period, 14th century
Chion-in Temple, Kyoto

Haya Raigo to go on display for 1st time after repairs

A must-see among the artistic treasures and scriptures reflecting the teachings of Jodo Shu to go on display in “Hōnen and Pure Land Buddhism,” the special exhibition set to open on Apr. 16, 2024, is the “Welcoming Descent of Amida (Amitabha) and Twenty-five Bodhisattvas” (14th century, see top photo), a painting on a hanging scroll more commonly known as Haya Raigo (Rapid Welcoming Descent).

The Haya Raigo is a designated national treasure owned by Chion-in and entrusted to the Kyoto National Museum. Nearly square in shape (145.7 centimeters by 155.0 centimeters), it features a detailed representation of Amida and a retinue of bosatsu (bodhisattvas) descending on clouds to receive a dying person, who is reciting the nenbutsu (the aforementioned invocation) in the hopes of entering paradise. The painting is going on display in a museum for the first time after having gone under conservation for three years in Kyoto.

The conservation was the first for this painting since 1934 and supported by the Tsumugu Project. The project — a joint effort between Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency, Imperial Household Agency and The Yomiuri Shimbun — utilizes a part of the proceeds from exhibitions such as this one to help preserve the nation’s cultural assets.

National Treasure
Amida (Amitābha) Coming over the Mountains
Kamakura period, 13th century
Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji Temple, Kyoto
National Treasure
Illustrated Biography of Master Hōnen (Hōnen Shōnin e-den), Volume 6 (detail)
Kamakura period, 14th century
Chion-in Temple, Kyoto
National Treasure
Taima Mandala (detail)
China, Tang dynasty or Japan, Nara period, 8th century
Taima-dera Temple, Nara
(Photo: Nara National Museum)

Among other treasures to be showcased are “Amida (Amitābha) Coming over the Mountains” (13th century) from the Eikan-do Zenrin-ji temple in Kyoto, several volumes of the “Illustrated Biography of Master Hōnen (Hōnen Shōnin e-den)” (14th century) from Chion-in, and the “Taima Mandala” (8th century) from the Taima-dera temple in Nara, all of which are designated national treasures.

Important Cultural Property
Seated Portrait of Master Hōnen
Kamakura period, 14th century
Taima-dera Oku-no-in Temple, Nara
(Photo: Nara National Museum)
Important Cultural Property
Letters by Genkū, Shōkū, and Other Priests (detail)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Kōzen-ji Temple, Nara
Important Cultural Property
Standing Amida (Amitābha) Buddha
Kamakura period, dated 1212 (Kenryaku 2)
Jōdo Shū
Important Cultural Property
Passages on the Selection of the Nenbutsu in the Original Vow
(Senchaku hongan nenbutsu shū)

Rozan-ji Version
Kamakura period, 12th–13th century
Rozan-ji Temple, Kyoto
Important Cultural Property
Amida (Amitābha) Triad in Portable Shrine
(Amida Triad) Kamakura period, 13th century
(Portable Shrine) Muromachi period, 16th century
Hōon-ji Temple, Kyoto
Important Cultural Property
Seated Portrait of Tokugawa Ieyasu
Edo period, 17th century
Chion-in Temple, Kyoto
Buddha Entering Nirvana with Sacred Assembly and Animals
Edo period, 17th century
Hōnen-ji Temple, Kagawa

Treasures from temples in Kanto also highlighted

Treasures from Jodo shu temples in the Kanto area — Zojo-ji (Shibakoen, Tokyo), Yuten-ji (Meguro, Tokyo), Komyo-ji (Kamakura, Kanagawa Pref.), Gugyo-ji (Joso, Ibaraki Pref.), Jofuku-ji (Naka, Ibaraki Pref.) and more — will also be a part of the exhibition in Tokyo.

Important Cultural Property
Chinese Buddhist Canon, Song-Dynasty Edition (detail)
China, Northern Song–Southern Song dynasty, printed 12th century
Zōjō-ji Temple, Tokyo
Five Hundred Arhats
Right: No. 57   Left: No. 24
By Kanō Kazunobu (1816–1863)
Edo period, 19th century
Zōjō-ji Temple, Tokyo

The exhibition will run through June 9, 2024.

*The exhibition will move to the Kyoto National Museum in the city of Kyoto later in the year (Oct. 8-Dec. 1, 2024) and the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Pref. in 2025 (Oct. 7-Nov. 30, 2025).

Outline of the event


Tue, Apr 16, 2024〜Sun, Jun 9, 2024


9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
(Last admission at 4:30 p.m.)

Exhibition website


Tokyo National Museum

13-9 Ueno Park
Taito Ward, Tokyo


Adults: 2,100 yen (1,900 yen)
University students: 1,300 yen (1,100 yen)
High school students: 900 yen (700 yen)
Junior high school students and younger: Free
(     ) → Advance tickets

*Visitors with disabilities and one accompanying person each are admitted free (Presentation of ID required).
*Tickets for this exhibition can be used to see general exhibitions on the same day.

Closing day

Mondays except Apr 29, May 6
May 7 (Tue)


Tel. 050-5541-8600 (Hello Dial)



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