Overview of the Museum

The Gotoh Museum

The Gotoh Museum was founded by Gotoh Keita (1882-1959), who was the late chairman of the Tokyu Corporation. It was created in 1960 specifically to hold the many traditional works of Japanese and Far Eastern art that Gotoh collected during half his lifetime.
Gotoh's interest in collecting traditional art was initially inspired by his interest in copies of the Buddhist sutras dating from the Nara Period. His business activities in the railway industry meant that he had to make frequent trips to the Kansai region, and he used his spare time on these busy trips to absorb the traditional culture of the ancient Japanese capital of Nara. He gradually became more and more fascinated by his exposure to this culture and eventually assembled on his own the largest collection of ancient sutras in Japan. At the same time he expanded his range of interests to include Zen calligraphy(Zenrin bokuseki) and then on to Japanese traditional culture from ancient times down to the medieval period. This interest inevitably led him to involvement in the tea ceremony. Before eventually setting up the Gotoh Museum he purchased the collection of the businessman Takanashi Nisaburo (1904-93), including works such as the Illustrated Handscroll of The Tale of Genji (National Treasure) and a collection of ancient mirrors belonging to the lawyer and art collector Moriya Kozo (1876-1953). He thus acquired many celebrated works of art which now have pride of place in the Gotoh Museum. Despite working hard on preparations for the opening of the museum, he passed away shortly before the museum opened its gates to the public. The Gotoh Museum marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2010. It merged with the Dai-tokyu Memorial Library in 2011 and got off to a new start with its name retained but with a new official status as a public-interest incorporated foundation.

The collection of the Gotoh Museum

The collection of the Gotoh Museum consists primarily of Japanese and Chinese works of art including paintings, tea ceremony implements, ceramics, calligraphy, ancient mirrors, and swords. Perhaps the most celebrated item in the museum's collection is the Illustrated Handscroll of The Tale of Genji, dating from the Heian Period. This work has been designated a National Treasure and is available for public viewing generally in the first week of May every year. The museum holds six or seven exhibitions a year, of which two are special exhibitions. The current collection consists of around five thousand works.

Dai-tokyu Memorial Library

The Dai-tokyu Memorial Library is a special institution founded in 1949. To form the basis of the library Gotoh Keita purchased the whole of the valuable collection of books belonging to the politician and entrepreneur Kuhara Fusanosuke (1869-1965) that had been entrusted to the safekeeping of the University of Kyoto. He then supplemented the collection by purchasing the library of the poet, literary scholar and ophthalmologist, Inoue Michiyasu (1866-1941). After a preparatory period, the library was opened specifically for use by researchers at Kamimeguro in Tokyo in 1955. Gotoh continued thereafter to purchase valuable books and paintings, thus constantly enhancing the value of the collection. Accompanying the opening of the Gotoh Museum in 1960, the library was moved to its present site, where its facilities are available for use by researchers. The library also issues an institutional journal and academic publications and presents lectures to the general public.

The collection of the Dai-tokyu Memorial Library

The collection of the Dai-tokyu Memorial Library consists of books from the libraries of Kuhara Fusanosuke and Inoue Michiyasu as well as books collected by Gotoh Keita himself. The Kuhara collection, which occupies a core position in the library, includes the Historical Records(Shiki)of Sima Qian, Japanese books from between the Nara and Edo periods, and books brought to Japan from China and Korea. In contrast, the Inoue collection consists mainly of Japanese poetry(waka)in the Edo period and related research materials. The library consists of around twenty-five thousand items.