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

Beyond the Boundary in Asia


Throughout the long history of the Asian world, we can see various “boundaries” – those that were perceived through monarchical power and those that have appeared through human activity.
This exhibition presents a portion of what was learned about shifts in boundaries through the research project “Eurasia and Japan: Exchange and Representations,” which was a collaborative work by the National Institutes for the Humanities.

For the ancient period, we focus on the fifth century, when the tribes in China’s periphery organized themselves into states. We show how the world that was rooted in the monarchical consciousness of southern China and ancient Japan expanded, and how technology was transmitted from the continent to ancient Japan.

The modern period focuses on the establishment of the nation-state, which took place between the 18th and 20th centuries. For the north, we show how the ethnic groups that lived in the area spanning Hokkaido, Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands and the area along the Amur River were perceived by states such as the Qing Dynasty and the Edo Shogunate and how these groups perceived each other from the viewpoint of differences in material culture.

In the south, in regards to the tribes who migrated from southern China into Thailand, we demonstrate their perception of migration, their motivations for migration, and the cultural changes that took place post-migration.

By comparing the ancient and modern periods, we hope to describe the nature of boundaries and to provide a forum for thinking about the meaning they hold in the modern age.