The Land of Serendipity at Tokyo National Museum
Special exhibition of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage:
Cultural Heritage of Sri Lanka - The Land of Serendipity - More than 2000 years of our cultural heritage with seven world heritage sights. For the first time Sri Lankan Cultural Heritage is being exhibited in Japan on large scale.
Sri Lankan officials with top executives of the Yomiuri Group
The then National Heritage Minister late Mr. Anura Bandaranaike at a discussion with Yomiuri executives
Former Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akio Suda completed his mission in Colombo after nearly 3 years in July 2006. He was a man who loved the culture and archaeology of Sri Lanka. He had a very cordial relationship with late Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar when he came to know to introduce Sri Lankan heritage to the world. On July 21 2006, a Sayonara reception was hosted by the out-going Ambassador at his residence at Maitland Crescent.
He made the following remarks during his speech “We have made significant progress and achievement in our assistance works for the development of Sri Lanka, the reconstruction of the war affected North and East, also relief and recovery from Tsunami disaster. We have further promoted our cultural exchanges such as annual Bunka Award ceremony, exhibitions of Japanese arts and culture and the planning of a great Sri Lankan cultural exhibition in Tokyo which is scheduled to be held in January 2008. I was also very happy to be able to cooperate with many Japan-Sri Lanka related Sri Lankan civil organisations which are tremendously active in social, cultural, educational and industrial programs thus contributing such to communities.”
Ambassador Suda approached the Yomiuri Group in Japan through a friend who is a key person in Yomiuri, to sponsor the event. It was a difficult task and Suda left Colombo. It was a silent agenda due to difficulties in finding funds and sponsors. Minister of National Heritage late Anura Bandaranaike visited Japan from May 10-17 2007 with the blessings of the President.
The Minister made an effort to arrange a meeting with Yomiuri Group through our Sri Lankan Mission in Tokyo. It was learnt President of the Yomiuri would not attend the meeting. With the help of former Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda we were able to have a very successful meeting with President of the Yomiuri, now Chairman Takuo Takihana. They agreed to become the main sponsors. Also they wanted to send a team to Colombo to reinitiate the event.
Yomiuri Groups flagship newspaper the ‘Yomiuri Shimbun’ was founded in 1874. In 1951 started the radio. Television channel started in 1953. Yomiuri Group is a media conglomerate which includes two newspapers with the largest circulation in the world. Nipon Television Network (NTV) is a leading television network with 30 stations in Japan. Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team of the major league home base at Tokyo Dome, Kawasaki soccer team. Tokyo Verdy soccer team are also in the group. Yomiuri World Theme Park is a popular place among Japanese and Yomiuri Land contains racetracks for horse and motorcycle racing, golf courses, amusement parks and recreation complexes.
The team arrived in Colombo, Nobuyasu Takayama Chief Producer - Cultural Promotion Department, Masatoshi Iwata - Producer Culture Promotion Department of the Yomiuri Shimbun and Masaru Kashima - Supervisor, Education Curator, Yoshihide Koizumi - Department of Cultural Properties Curator, South Asian Art to Tokyo National Museum.
They had a meeting with the Minister National Heritage at “Sethsiripaya” on May 28, 2007. Visiting Japanese team led by First Secretary, Cultural & Information of Japanese Embassy in Colombo. Takashi Ato., officials of the National Museum and Department of Archaeology, were present at the meeting.
The team visited the places and selected the artifacts to exhibit as suggested earlier. Of course there were many speculations to take The Holy Tooth Relic or last Kings Throne to highlight the event.
Everyone understands there are difficulties to fulfill every task within a short span. Last month again Iwata of the Yomiuri Shimbun, Koizumi of Tokyo National Museum and a expert from Nippon Express handling agents arrived here. With their inspection all the artifacts and the replicas were packed with the help of Archaeology Department officials and Ace Cargo then dispatched the artifacts from Colombo on August 29 after a very tight schedule. Araki Ambassador, Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka, Takashi Ato, First Secretary and Kiichiro Iwase of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan have been great pillars of support. The assistance given by Ranjith Uyangoda the Ambassador and Mrs. Chamari Rodrigo First Secretary of Sri Lanka Embassy in Tokyo to showcase our heritage has been tremendous.
Without the President’s grace and Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Minister’s guidance this event would not be a success.
Director General Archaeology and Director National Museum with their officials and members of the Ministry have worked tirelessly on a demanding schedule to portray Sri Lanka as a country with a rich cultural background. The official opening is on September 16, 2008.
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, the Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohita Bogollagama, Deputy Minister of Tourism Faizer Mustapha will grace the occasion. Secretary to the Prime Minister Mahinda Bandusena, Secretary Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage G. L. W. Samarasinghe, Director General Archaeology Dr. Senarath Dissanayake, Director National Museum Dr. Nanda Wickremasinghe and the Chairman of the preparation committee of exhibition Prof. P.L. Prematilake will join the delegation.
It will be opened to the public from September 17 to November 30, 2008.
Venue: Hyokeikan, Tokyo National Museum in Ueno.
Hours: 09.30 to 17.00 Sat., Holidays until 18.00, Fridays until 20.00 last entry 30 min. before close. Closed on Monday and the day after a national holiday.
The organizers are Tokyo National Museum, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage with support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka and a grant of Japan Foundation, and the co-operation of SriLankan Airlines.
This is a rare opportunity for Sri Lanka to showcase her rich cultural heritage that is over 2000 years old. Over the last two decades there has been talk only of war and terrorism.
This exhibition will tell the world about Sri Lanka’s proud heritage, and show an insight to the fact that Sri Lanka is not a war zone but truly a Paradise island.