The Kamakura Museum of National Treasures (鎌倉国宝館 Kamakura Kokuhōkan), or just "Kamakura Museum", is located on the grounds of Tsurugaoka Hachimangū in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. It was founded in 1928 to preserve the cultural treasures of the region and to make objects of cultural and historical significance available to the general public. The Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 had caused immense damage to the cultural properties and artefacts of Kamakura.

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The museum has a collection of some 4,800 objects from Kamakura and its surroundings, including sculptures, paintings, and other Buddhist artwork. Most objects on display were produced in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. Some were imported from China, but most artefacts are the result of local Buddhist practice, showing distinct features of style not found in similar artwork from Kyōto or Nara.

The collection comprises five "National Treasures of Japan", 73 items designated as "Important Cultural Property", and about 100 nikuhitsuga ukiyo-e (painting in the ukiyo-e style) in the "Ujiie Ukiyo-e Collection" (財団法人氏家浮世絵コレクション), a foundation that was established at the museum in October 1974.

Some exhibits are displayed below.






All photos courtesy of Kamakura Kokuhōkan.

In addition to the regular exhibition, the annual programme of special exhibitions comprises the following:
  • April-May: masterpieces in Kamakura
  • September: masterpieces from Tsurugaoka Hachimangū
  • October-November: special exhibitions
  • January: Ujiie Ukiyo-e Collection
  • February-March: dolls of the Hinamatsuri

The building itself was designed by Okada Shinichirō (岡田信一郎, 1883-1932), a prominent Japanese architect who taught at Waseda University and Tokyo School of Fine Arts and who also designed Kabuki-za In Tokyo and countless other classicist buildings all over Japan.

English-language literature available at the Kamakura Museum:


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Selected Masterpieces from the Kamakura Museum introduces a selection of some of the finest works entrusted to the museum. The catalogue is organised in four parts: sculptures, paintings, calligraphy, and decorative arts. 40pages with extensive photos. Price: 500 JPY.

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The Basics of Buddhist Images is a beginner's guide to Buddhist imagery with lots of pictures and simple explanations. 78 pages. Price 500 JPY.

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The Kamakura Museum is a small brochure introducing the most famous exhibits entrusted to the museum. 20 pages with black and white photographies. Free, if you purchase the other guide books.


Links:


Access:

A 12-minute walk from Kamakura Station (JR Yokosuka Line, Shōnan–Shinjuku Line).
Address: 2-1-1 Yukinoshita, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0005; phone: 0467-22-0753, fax: 0467-5953.
Admission: open daily 09:00-16:30 (last admission 16:00); closed on Mondays (except for public holidays on Monday, in which case the museum will be closed the following Tuesday); adults 300-700 JPY (depending on the exhibition), children 100-300 JPY.


Map: