The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Pilgrimage and Sacred Places: A Voyage of Self Discovery

Pilgrimage and Sacred Places: A Voyage of Self Discovery
March 15 - June 5, 2007

This Special Exhibition is about discovering oneself, while learning about others in the process of ethnographic documentation.

The main section of this exhibition presents various images and items related to pilgrimages and sacred places. Four ethnographic films compiled at MINPAKU will be featured, which are: “Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela,” “Lourdes,” “The Shikoku Pilgrimage,” “Shamanic Medium of Tsugaru, Osorezan” .

Ethnographic film making started with the birth of film-making technology. Since the invention of the first motion-picture projector by the Lumière brothers, many images were shot in various ways attempting to capture aspects of cultures that are different from one’s own. Within a period of less than 100 years, the style of ethnological film making has developed considerably, from early one-shot documentary films and analytical images such as those by Margaret Mead to ethnographic films with a story line, such as those by Jean Rouch. Today, people are exposed to information about cultures that are seen in different societies through various styles, including TV variety shows.

As the style of film making has changed, so its focus has also changed. Departing from the simple documentation of scenes in people’s everyday-life, anthropologists have begun attempting to capture, through their cameras, cultural aspects which are not obviously visible. Such records accumulate as “something sacred” for the researchers themselves.

On the Second Floor, video images captured by Minpaku researchers during their fieldwork in different cultures around the world are shown. Since its foundation in 1976, researchers at Minpaku have been involved with ethnographic documentation. Early documentation required the use of 16 mm films for movie making with equipment weighing over 300 kg. Today, researchers carry portable hi-vision cameras to the field. More than 40 countries have been visited by Minpaku researchers, and approximately 100 anthropological films, 200 “videothèque” programs, as well as visual research materials and information programs have been produced. In this section, footage of ethnographic film making and of Minpaku anthropologists at work are shown in various ways.

Through a visit to our exhibition, we hope that you will discover something not only about others, but about yourself as well.

Admission Charges (good for an admission for both Permanent and Special Exhibition Halls):
Adults ¥420 (Individual) / ¥350 (Group: 20 persons or more)
Students ¥250 (Individual) / ¥200 (Group: 20 persons or more)
Children ¥110 (Individual) / ¥90 (Group: 20 persons or more)
* A discounted rate is applicable for the following visitors (an ID is required): Visitors doing research for university coursework (conditions apply), repeat visitors within 3 months, and people over 65. For more details, please check our website or contact us.
* Admission is free every Saturday for primary school, junior high school, and high school students.
* Admission is free on May 5.