OSAKA–Shoso-in, a repository located on the premises of Todaiji temple in Nara, originally belonged to the temple, but is now managed by the Imperial Household Agency.
The treasures stored at the repository include more than 600 items related to Emperor Shomu (701-756), who founded the temple and had the Great Buddha built to bring Buddhist teachings to people who had suffered drought, earthquakes, hunger and epidemics.
Because of the emperor’s devotion to the Buddha, the empress dedicated the items he cherished to the temple’s Great Buddha 49 days after his death in 756.
Although the temple buildings were damaged in several fires over its 1,250-year history, the repository has survived intact.
In addition to the items related to the emperor, the repository houses utensils used for an eye-opening ceremony for the Great Buddha and other items for Buddhist rituals. Also among the stored items are daily necessities, such as mirrors and folding screens, weapons, musical instruments and ancient game boards.
Nara was a hub for East and West trading along the Silk Road, which linked western Asia with the Mediterranean world, so some of the treasures were brought from other nations.