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NPM exhibition in Japan expected to draw record number of visitors

TOKYO -- An unprecedented exhibition of artifacts from Taiwan's National Palace Museum (NPM) in Japan that is expected by at least one Japanese official to draw record crowds opened to the public on Tuesday.

Over 1,000 people braved the rain to form a line that wrapped around the museum Tuesday morning, ready to get a look at the “Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum, Taipei” exhibition that opened to the public in the afternoon.

Keiji Furuya, Japan's minister of disaster prevention who was instrumental in bringing the show to Japan, estimated that the exhibition could attract over 3 million visits, which would double the Tokyo museum's all-time attendance record for any single event set by the Mona Lisa exhibition in 1974.

The estimate was far more optimistic than the 1 million visitors predicted by NPM Director Fung Ming-chu in October 2013, citing a Tokyo museum projection.

Among those who got the first look at the Chinese cultural antiquities Tuesday were high school students from areas in northeastern Japan that were hit hardest by the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

They had been specially invited by the NPM, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan and Taiwan's Ministry of Culture to visit the exhibition, and the students expressed interest in the jade objects and calligraphy displays.

Fung said staffers from her museum on Tuesday were also distributing NPM videos, children's books and gifts at hospitals and elementary schools in areas affected by the March 11 disasters.

“Cultural artifacts and art are most able to touch the heart,” she said.

The Tokyo exhibition will run through Sept. 15, but the renowned Jadeite Cabbage with Insects will only be displayed during the exhibition's first two weeks.

The collection will then be shown at the Kyushu National Museum from Oct. 7 to Nov. 30.

A total of 231 precious works from the NPM will be exhibited in the Tokyo and Kyushu shows, including ancient books, calligraphies, paintings, embroideries and ceramic, bronze and jade objects. Some 186 of those items will be on display in Tokyo.

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Over 1,000 people stand in line for a look at the “Treasured Masterpieces of the National Palace Museum, Taipei” exhibition in Tokyo, yesterday. People braved the rain to form a line that wrapped around the museum Tuesday morning. (CNA)

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