The Tokyo National Museum has a gorgeous online calligraphy collection; I’m not sure what distinguishes the Books & Documents from, say, the Ancient Superb Writings in Japan, but it doesn’t really matter—it’s all good. Enjoy. (Via Plep.)


  1. Wow, that IS nice!
    To answer your question, looking at the Japanese side of the site (change “en” to “jp” in the URL), “Books & Documents” corresponds to 典籍・文書, which just means books and documents in general, but “Ancient Superb Writings in Japan” is 日本の古筆. 古筆 (kohitsu) is a word that can just mean “old writing”, but it’s also used to refer to a specific kind of writing that you see on some documents written between the Nara and Kamakura periods (so about the 700s to the 1400s, in AD time), especially documents that represent Japanese (phonetically or otherwise) rather than Chinese. To judge from the stuff in the category there, I think they’re using that more specific sense.

  2. Ah, thanks for the clarification! So they should be calling them “kohitsu documents,” unless there’s some standard translation for the term.

  3. I recommend also having a look at some of the things in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The Tang dynasty “autobiography” scroll is one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. (Warning: large file.)
    But don’t make any special trips yet to the museum, because much of it is closed now for extensive remodeling.

  4. I lived in Taiwan back in the ’70s and made frequent trips to the museum, which is indeed astonishing — as it should be, since it contains much of the artistic heritage of all of China; in fact, they have so much they can display only a small fraction at any given time, so they change the exhibits frequently, which is why I made frequent trips. Thanks for the link — I don’t know why I never checked out their online presence.

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