The Shōsōin Imperial Treasury: New Directions in Research

Xiaolu Wu's picture

The Shōsōin Treasury, located near the Tōdaiji monastery in Nara, Japan, houses over 9000 objects and ancient documents dating to the eighth century or earlier. These diverse objects showcase the cultural traditions of not only Nara Japan, but also Silla Korea, Tang China, the Central Asian kingdoms, Sasanian Iran, and beyond. This inaugural conference, “The Shōsōin Imperial Treasury: New Directions in Research,” engages specialists to discuss new trajectories in the Shōsōin studies. The conference features an opening lecture by Professor Yukio Lippit, panel discussions with renowned scholars, an interview with Natsuki Kitazawa, the curator of the Nara National Museum, and three lightning talks on Shōsōin objects by Harvard graduate students. 


The Shōsōin Imperial Treasury: New Directions in Research 

Date: March 16, 2023, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Lower Level Lecture Hall, Harvard University 

                485 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138

Organized by: Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

        Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

This is a hybrid event. For in-person and Zoom attendance, please register through the Google Form

If you have any questions, please email them to We look forward to your participation! 


Conference Schedule

9:30-10:15 “The Shōsōin Treasury: New Directions in Research,” Yukio Lippit (Harvard University)

10:15-11:15 Shōsōin Treasures: Three Case Studies

        “The Shōsōin Go Gameboard,” Joy Wu (Harvard University) 

        “The Shōsōin Silver Incense Burner,” April Peng (Harvard University)

        “The Shōsōin Twelve-Lobed Oblong Green Glass Cup,” Sophie Lei (Harvard University)

11:30-12:30 “The Shōsōin and the Man’yōshū” (Panel Discussion)

        Yukio Lippit (Harvard University)

        David Lurie (Columbia University)

        Melissa McCormick (Harvard University)

        Danica Truscott (Harvard University)

2:00-3:00 “The Shōsōin and the Tōdaiji Great Buddha” (Panel Discussion)

        Ryuichi Abé (Harvard University)

        Cynthea Bogel (Kyushu University)

        Bryan Lowe (Princeton University)

        Akiko Walley (University of Oregon)

3:00-3:45 “The Shōsōin Annual Exhibition and its History” (Public Interview)

        Featuring: Natsuki Kitazawa (Nara National Museum)

        Rachel Saunders (Harvard Art Museums)

        Yukio Lippit (Harvard University)

4:00-5:00 “The Shōsōin and the Silk Road” (Panel Discussion)

        Jun Hu (UC Berkeley)

        Deborah Klimburg-Salter (University of Vienna)

        Eugene Wang (Harvard University)