Famed for its spring verdure and rich autumn colors, Tōfuku-ji is one of Kyoto’s representative Zen temples. It was established during the early Kamakura period on the orders of the imperial regent and advisor Kujō Michiie. He entrusted the founding to Enni (Shōichi Kokushi), a priest who had previously travelled to China to study Zen (Ch.Chan) Buddhism. The name "Tōfuku-ji" was taken from the first character of Tō-ji and the second character of Kōfuku-ji, two temples in Nara.
Also known as the "Tōfuku no Garanzura", the temple complex creates a striking impression with its vast array of huge medieval-style buildings. This exhibition marks the first chance to view the temple’s many treasures in one place. The legendary Buddhist painter Minchō’s Five Hundred Arhats will be displayed in its entirety for the first time since the completion of restoration work, for example. It will be joined by a number of precious cultural properties that somehow survived destruction during Ōnin War of 1467-77.
The exhibition also showcases several masterpieces of painting and calligraphy as well as Buddhist sculptures whose monumental size chimes well with the temple’s vastness. While tracing the temple’s history since its founding, the exhibition presents a board overview of the Zen culture that bloomed through exchanges with the rest of Asia. It also explores Tōfuku-ji’s enduring appeal and its significance to Japanese culture.
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