Nara, in the Yamato region of Japan, was the country's capital from 710 to 784, and the cradle of traditional Japanese culture.
This special display ran in two rooms: the Asahi Shimbun Displays (Room 3) had treasures from Hōryūji, one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, dating between the AD 600s and 700s. The Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries (Room 93) featured sacred sculptures and paintings from the great temples and shrines of Nara, from the AD 700s to the 1400s.
The Buddhist religion was introduced to Japan from China and Korea in the AD 500s, along with writing and new forms of government, transforming indigenous culture. For most of Japanese history, Buddhism has flourished alongside Shinto, native beliefs in kami (deities of nature and ancestors). In Nara, Shinto kami came to be regarded as emanations and protectors of Buddhist deities.
These displays were made possible by the support of The Asahi Shimbun Company, longstanding corporate sponsors of the British Museum. The Asahi Shimbun is a Japanese leading newspaper and the company also provides a substantial information service via the internet. The company has a century-long tradition of philanthropic support, notably staging key exhibitions in Japan on art, culture and history from around the world. In addition to the Asahi Shimbun Displays, The Asahi Shimbun Company is a committed supporter of the British Museum touring exhibition programme in Japan, and funder of The Asahi Shimbun Gallery of Amaravati sculpture in Room 33a.