Together, Japan's National Treasures provide a cacophonous ode to the nation and its heritage for its historical, cultural, geographical and stylistic dissonances. Yet, this is the first time in 41 years that 210 such works (or sets) have been displayed en masse.
On their own, National Treasures are sometimes called "lonely," because what distinguishes them is peerless creativity and ingenuity.
The tallying of dates and figures of the Kyoto National Museum's current exhibition is as striking as the aesthetic experience. Now is the 120th anniversary of the museum's foundation. This coincides with the 1897 Ancient Temples and Shrines Preservation Law, a Meiji Era (1867-1912) edict that brought about the modern "National Treasure" (kokuhō). It was a tumultuous time when Japan officially opened its borders to wider international trade. It was also a time for establishing a national and international identity through rediscovering and constructing a patrimony.