Emaki illustrated scrolls are one of the most important cultural heritages of our country containing as they do a variety of unique features highly characteristic of Japanese culture. Although it is not clear exactly when such scrolls were first produced, the confirmed fact is that they were quite popular in the latter part of the Heian period when the Tale of Genji Scrolls and the Scroll of the Courtier Ban Dainagon came into being. The illustrated scrolls produced in this period mostly comprise those based on fictional stories, anecdotal tales and religious scriptures. With the arrival of the Kamakura period, scrolls based on legendary accounts of the origins of temples and shrines, biographical stories of high priests and tales of wars made their debut and enjoyed immense popu1arity. In the Muromachi period, many folk tales were added to further increase the already impressive variety of illustrated scrolls. Unlike the picture scrolls in the earlier period, which were meant solely for the enjoyment of the Imperial court nobles, those in the Middle Ages often served to whip up the morale of the fighting men or to help various temples, shrines and religious sects to publicize their beliefs and doctrines, and such new duties gave colorful twists and immense momentum to the development of illustrated scrolls in general. For the current exhibition, we have selected three types (four items) of scrolls - the Stories of a Mongol Invasion to Japan, one of the best known war tale scrolls in the Kamakura period, the Story of a Painter, a chronicle of a host of untoward incidents which fell on the protagonist, and two popular Middle Age versions of the Legends of Kitano Tenjin Shrine containing biographical stories of Sugawara no Michizane, a famous scholar in the Heian period who is consecrated in the Kyoto shrine.
It will give us great pleasure if the visitors to our museum will take this opportunity to fully appreciate the scrolls which have so far rarely been on display.