Your journey through the history of the Orient in the Toyo Bunko Museum departs here. You will become acquainted with the breadth of more than 100 million book holdings and retrace the steps of Toyo Bunko from its foundation to the present day. Precious historical texts written in a myriad of languages are lined up here in the longest display case in Japan; suspended from the ceiling is a giant life-size replica of Toyo Bunko's largest map "Edo Oezu"; and against the wall is the stone rubbing "Gwanggaeto Stele." There is also an information terminal for the "Digital Silk Road,” which we hope you will enjoy as well.
This is the most famous of Toyo Bunko's collections. In 1917, the founder of Toyo Bunko, Hisaya Iwasaki, purchased approximately 24,000 Asia related books and pieces of art from the Beijing-based Australian doctor GE Morrison. You have access here to this precious collection that passes through a century of time.
※ Please do not directly touch the books (an alarm is active). Also note that staff members have been arranged throughout the exhibits and may enter or leave an area suddenly.
The Iwasaki Collection
As the name of this room suggests, in here you will encounter national treasures, important cultural properties, and the finest masterpieces of ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e as well as the other treasures on display here, are part of our "100-year conservation plan" and are therefore limited to single month exhibitions, so please be careful to not miss them.
You will find that this room strikes a unique balance, maintaining old traditions with cutting-edge innovation, by utilizing technologies such as "encounter vision" and digital books.
Reflections in Time
In here on display are "Inscribed Oracle Bones," which help show how Chinese characters evolved, and “hyakumantoudarani," which is known as the oldest printed object in Japan. In this space to protect the exhibits, the lighting is minimal. Enjoy the interior of this room while listening to the soothing “Toyo Bunko Musical Suite," and get beyond the crevasse to head back from your time travels.
This room enables museumgoers to trace the history of "discovery" between the Orient and Occident, East and West. This space houses three different exhibitions corresponding to our yearly themes.
Alley of Wisdom
This is a covered road bridging the museum and its restaurant "Orient Cafe." The sides of the pathway are lined with Asian language quotations, engraved across panels displaying lettering rarely seen except by the experts we commissioned to translate them. After giving the mind a good workout on this path, enjoy relaxing a bit in the Oriental Cafe or Courtyard Siebold Garden.
Orient Cafe is a joint Western-style restaurant by Toyo Bunko and Koiwai Farm. Hisaya Iwasaki, founder of Toyo Bunko, happened to have also been a proprietor at Koiwai. Hisaya held his positions at both Koiwai and Toyo Bunko as lifelong loves. Therefore, the staff at Toyo Bunko and Koiwai Farm collaborated on devising this restaurant after much deliberation. The gastronomical pleasures here reflect a wide range of influence from our staff members.
Marco Poro Shop
Marco Polo of Venice authored the world famous Travels of Marco Polo and also conducted trade from Asia to Europe. In following his range of activity across geographical space, this shop carries a fitting degree of exotic products from Taiwan and other countries such as Vietnam. We also sell Toyo Bunko original goods as well as products from partner organizations including the British Museum and Academia Sinica. The objects for sale are quite unusual, so it ought to be fun to take a look.
This garden connects the main building of the museum to its restaurant. Here we reproduced with real trees Siebold’s picture book Japaneese Flora, which is one of the most famous holdings in our collection. Make sure to see the colorful hydrangea (incidentally, the scientific name for the hydrangea is Otakusa, chosen to honor “Otaki,” the name of a wife lost in Nagasaki). This garden is part of the museum to celebrate achievements to the development of Oriental studies by von Siebold in Europe. Also, in the garden we have a sculpture that won the "Toyo Bunko Award" by a student at the Tokyo University of the Arts.
Fountain of the Musaeum
The Ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria contained Cleopatra's famous Mouseion at Alexandria, the world’s greatest temple of ancient learning. This temple is today part of the word museum’s etymology, which implies a world-sized library where leading scholars gather and exchange wisdom reciprocally. Therefore, since Toyo Bunko is equipped with a library, research institutions, and a museum, it could be called a sort of modern Mouseion. Incidentally, Toyo Bunko is presently working cooperatively with the Library of Alexandria and also promoting academic exchange.