Kyoto University Turns Medieval Painting Into A 'time Machine'

Kyoto university turns medieval painting into a 'time machine'

KYOTO--Tourists can stroll into medieval times with the help of a digital reproduction of a famed folding screen.

Kyoto Arts and Crafts University has installed a life-size digital reproduction of the "Ikeda version of the Rakuchu Rakugaizu (scenes in and around the capital) folding screen" in a ground-floor gallery on its Higashiyama campus, which opened in April.

"You can have a more in-depth sightseeing experience if you stroll around the streets after watching the digitized work and understanding lifestyles of the past," said Satoshi Yamashita, an official in the city government’s project promotion office, which teamed with the university to facilitate the project.

The painting, designated an important cultural property by the central government, portrays the imperial palace, Nijo Castle and also the lives of ordinary people during an annual Gion Festival from the early Edo Period (1603-1867).

With about 3,100 figures appearing in it, the work is one of the most populated among available Rakuchu Rakugaizu folding screen paintings.

A 1-meter-tall, 1.85-meter-wide touchscreen showing an image of the painting has also been set up in a nearby theater, enabling viewers to easily tap into Kyoto’s history and places of interest. Touch Kiyomizudera temple with a finger, for example, and it is displayed in an enlarged image, together with an explanatory note.

"Digitization is a necessary process, not the least for having people appreciate virtues of authentic cultural properties," said Ryu Murakami, a professor of cultural property information with Kyoto Arts and Crafts University. "We hope to create a major trend for use of it as a tourism aid."

The university has relocated its campus from Nantan, Kyoto Prefecture, to Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward by the side of Sanjusangendo temple and Kyoto National Museum, which are both major tourist draws.