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Time Machine: Shousou-in Exhibition, Nara

Date Published: Last Update:2015/04/09 Travel & View point ,

What is “Shousou-in”?


- Shousou-In -
There are three store rooms inside the building.
Photo from flickr

“Shousou” was a term for a repository owned and controlled by government offices or major temples during the Nara (710 – 784) and Heian periods (794 – 1185).
“Shousou-in” meant the area where a group of “shousou” were built.

Now, only one storehouse of “shousou-in” is existent, located at the temple Toudai-ji, Nara.
The word usually refers to this particular repository today.

Toudai-ji 2

- Toudai-ji -

For more information, see here.
You can see photos of treasures in this website, too.

Shousou-in Exhibition

Shousou-in 3

- An item displayed in the last Exhibition -
From a free paper for the Exhibition.

Some of treasures in “shousou-in” are open to public once a year as a special exhibition at Nara National Museum.
About three weeks in Autumn.
There are variety of collection, originating from foreign countries as well as Japan, and including clothes, musical instruments, accessories, documents, etc.
Sometimes the original and its copy are displayed, so you can see what the original looked like in its time.

Shousou-in 2

My favourite items are documents.
I’m looking forward to seeing them whenever I go to the Exhibition, because it is very interesting to know how people lived in that time.
For example, reports about a person who was punished because he burnt something beside a house and of absence, household registration, records on necessities and workers for constructions or something, and so on.

Also, it is amazing to see how “washi”, a traditional Japanese paper, can be maintained in a good condition under proper control.
I once heard that “washi” and “sumi” (Japanese ink) were the best combination for keeping records, as they would last quite long.
Although documents displayed have changed in colour to brown, they generally can be read clearly.


All the information are based on the last Exhibition.

– Ticket –

Shousou-in Ticket

- Ticket for the last Exhibition -

  • You can buy in advance at several places including convenience stores before the Exhibition is open to public.
    It will cost you a little cheaper.
    Even after the Exhibition is open, you may still be able to purchase advance ticket at places like small shops or railway stations in Nara.
  • “Autumn Late Ticket” is the cheapest.
    It’s sold solely at ticket booths of the museum and can be purchased two hours and a half before the closing time.
    The ticket allows you to enter the museum only from one hour and a half before the closing time of the date of issue.
  • Just for reference, admission fees for adult last time:
    After the Exhibition is open : 1100 yen
    Advance (“Mae-uri” in Japanese) or a group with more than 20 people : 1000 yen
    Autumn Late : 800 yen

On the final day of the last Exhibition, admission was free in cerebration for “san-jyu” (the age of eighty years) of the emperor and the empress.

– Others –

Quite many people come to Nara during the Exhibition throughout Japan.

  • Longer opening hours than usual during the Exhibition.
    From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., open everyday.
    On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays, closed at 7 p.m.
  • Around four in the afternoon is probably the best time to visit the Exhibition.
    I used to go there before the opening time, waited in a long, long queue outside, then had a great difficulty to see exhibits properly in a crowd inside.
    There are less people in the afternoon, and the time right before people with Autumn Late Ticket enter seems the least crowded.
    As for the permanent exhibition, there will be much less people at any time.
  • If you visit Nara in Autumn, you’d better book your accommodation in advance.
    It would be almost impossible to find a room for reasonable price on the date of arrival in Nara city, especially on weekends during the Exhibition or in the foliage season.
  • There are many special exhibitions other than the museum during this period.
    You probably can enter some buildings which are usually closed in the temples nearby, although you need to pay some money.
  • Better not buy “shika senbei” (biscuits for deer) in this particular period.
    Too many people seem to buy and give them to deer, and deer are just fed up with the same old biscuits!
    Deer in Nara
    However, if you see somebody with biscuits being attacked by greedy and aggressive deer (as usual), that means they aren’t tired of “senbei” yet, so you can enjoy feeding (or being ripped off by) them.
  • Beside a pond(s?) near “Toudai-ji”, you may find a self-service stand with food for carp.
    Toudai-ji 1

    - Toudai-ji and the pond "Daibutsu-ike" -

    If I remembered right, it cost 100 yen for a long-stick-like food and there was a note on the stand saying “You can give this to deer too”.

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A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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