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Shōsōin

Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Shosoin 01.jpg
Romaji Shōsōin
Kanji 正倉院
Kana
Audio Coming Soon
(n) Storehouse on the grounds of Tōdai-ji, Nara


Shōsō-in (正倉院) is a storehouse on the grounds of Tōdai-ji (東大寺, Eastern Great Temple) in Nara. Shōsō-in was originally constructed to house the over 600 items Empress Kōmyō dedicated to the Great Buddha at Tōdai-ji to mourn her husband Emperor Shōmu in 756. During the Heian period more items of Buddhist worship were deposited in Shōsō-in.

Shōsō-in is an important repository of both domestically manufactured and imported textiles. The storehouse itself is the oldest surviving structure of its kind and is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Treasure of Japan.

Since 1994, exact reproductions of ancient Nara textiles housed at Shōsō-in have been produced under the auspices of the Imperial Household Agency's Office of the Shosoin Treasure House. The silk used to preserve these important historical patterns and weaving methods is donated by the Empress Michiko, from the Momijiyama Imperial Cocoonery.

A complete record of the treasures housed in Shōsō-in is unavailable, but there are over 9,000 items that have been identified and preserved. The storehouse itself is not open to the public, but some treasures are displayed every autumn at the Nara National Museum.

Examples of Textiles Housed in Shōsō-in

Description Image
Armrest covered with hou-ou patterned cloth Shosoin 02.jpg
Thirty-one rugs, Example 1 Shosoin 03.jpg
Thirty-one rugs, Example 2 Shosoin 04.jpg
Fabric for a kimono, woven hanabishi Shosoin 05.jpg
Brocade altar cover Shosoin 06.jpg
Woven altar cover with oshidori and lotus Shoisoin 07.jpg
Altar cover with shika Shosoin 08.jpg