This exhibition gives visitors the rare chance to encounter a significant 13th-century Japanese icon, Prince Shōtoku at Age Two, from the inside out. Legendary prince Shōtoku Taishi (c. 574–622) is regarded as the founder of Buddhism in Japan. At two years old (one by the Western count), he was believed to have taken several steps forward, faced east, put his hands together, and praised the Buddha. A sacred relic, the eyeball of the Buddha, then appeared between his hands. The diminutive life-size sculpture—the oldest and finest of its kind—depicts that miraculous moment.
Also featured in the exhibition is the spectacular 14th-century painting The Legendary Biography of Prince Shōtoku, on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The painting relates several miraculous incidents from the prince’s early life.