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First lady to meet students from quake-hit areas in Japan

TAIPEI -- The director of Taiwan's National Palace Museum confirmed yesterday that first lady Chow Mei-ching will be the honorary leader of a delegation headed for Japan this month to kick off a special exhibition there of the museum's treasured artifacts.

Chow is set to attend a tea party on June 23 at the Tokyo National Museum to mark the opening of the exhibition in the Japanese capital under the title “Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum, Taipei,” said museum director Feng Ming-chu.

The first lady will also be present at the Tokyo museum the next day, the official start of the unprecedented showing of Taiwan's valued imperial Chinese treasures overseas.

That day, she will tour the exhibit and meet with students from some of the areas of Japan that were hit hardest by the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of the country.

Invited by Taiwan's representative office in Japan to see the exhibition, the students can look forward to receiving from Chow books introducing the valuable Chinese artifacts on display, Feng said.

The curator also said that her museum has shipped 11,000 souvenirs and other products to the Tokyo National Museum, where it will operate a temporary shop for the duration of the exhibition.

If all of the merchandize sells, the Taipei museum could be looking at an intake of NT$28 million (US$933,000), she said.

Advanced tickets for the exhibition have already been sold out, said Feng, who is optimistic that the event can boost tourism and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.

The National Palace Museum, one of the world's largest depositories of imperial Chinese art and artifacts, said it has selected 231 pieces from its collection for the June 24-Sept. 15 Tokyo exhibition, including the famed Jadeite Cabbage.

The 18.7-centimeter tall super-realistic carving of the vegetable, praised as a perfect work of art made from an imperfect stone, will only be on display for the first two weeks at the Tokyo National Museum before heading back to Taipei.

The rest of the exhibition is set to move to the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, for an Oct. 7-Nov. 30 run. That leg will feature another popular treasure, the Banded Jasper Resembling a Slab of Meat.

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