Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our Exhibition Abroad, Japan: Pyramids Treasure in Toyama

Nevine El-Aref enjoys a trip back to the age of the pyramid builders in the Japanese city of Toyama.

Residents and visitors to the Japanese city of Toyama fell under the spell of the Giza Pyramids last week on the opening of the sixth leg of the Golden Pharaohs and Pyramids touring exhibition in Japan.

Posters of the Great Pyramids at Giza, the pharaoh Khufu’s solar boat, the golden mask of Amenemopet, the limestone pyramidion of Ry and Maya, the black basalt statue of Khafre and jewelry embellished with precious stones have been decorating the walls of Toyama train station, shops, hotels and streets.

For the next two months, Toyama residents will be able to travel back in time to the ancient Egyptian civilisation and explore one of its most important and powerful eras – the Old Kingdom, the age of the Pyramid builders.

A gala ceremony was organised at the Toyama Civic Centre last Friday to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, with Japanese officials, Egyptologists and curators gathering to attend the inauguration. 

Among them were Kiyotsugu Yamashi, president of Tulip TV which organised the exhibition, and Osamu Yamamato, director-general of civic affairs and culture at the Toyama prefectural government.

The Egyptian delegation was headed by Gharib Sonbol, head of restoration at the ministry of antiquities in Cairo. The present exhibition is the first ancient Egyptian exhibition to tour Japan after a three-year hiatus following the Tutankhamun: Golden Age of the Pharaohs touring exhibition in 2012. 

That exhibition was cut short and returned to Egypt before the end of the planned tour after some Egyptian archaeologists filed a lawsuit against the ministry in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution. The lawsuit sought to end the sending of touring exhibitions of ancient Egyptian artefacts abroad.

The present exhibition was inaugurated in October 2015 in the Japanese capital Tokyo and is scheduled to tour seven other cities in Japan over a 25-month period, including Matsuyama, Sendai, Kagoshima, Kyoto, Toyama, Fukuoka, and Shizuoka. 

“The exhibition does not only shed light on the Old Kingdom and the age of the Pyramid builders, but also highlights the strong bilateral relationship between Egypt and Japan in all domains,” minister of antiquities Khaled Al-Enany told the Weekly. 

He added that the exhibition was a very good opportunity to promote tourism and to encourage Japanese tourists to return to Egypt.

Al-Enany said that Egyptian-Japanese cooperation in the cultural field was being seen in many distinguished projects. Among the most important was the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau which will put on display 100,000 artefacts and welcome millions of visitors every year. 

“This is thanks to the Japanese government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their continuous efforts and support in offering two soft loans to complete one of the most important cultural projects in the world,” El-Enany said.

In addition, Japan had provided technical and scientific support through the provision of scientific equipment and materials to the GEM’s conservation centre. There are also many joint Egyptian-Japanese missions at various archaeological sites in Egypt that have yielded important results. 

Waseda University, for example, has been excavating in Egypt since 1966, and was amongst the first foreign institutions to introduce advanced technological tools to better understand Egypt’s archaeology.

One of the University’s recent projects is the exploration of Khufu’s second solar boat in its pit on the Giza Plateau. “The exhibition is the first of its kind in Japan,” Sakuhi Yoshimura, president of the Higashi Nippon International University in Japan and the exhibition’s supervisor, told the Weekly, adding that exhibitions featuring the Pyramids were rare throughout the world... READ MORE.

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