The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

The Arabian Nights

The Arabian Nights


Welcome to the World of the Arabian Nights!
Antoine Galland
Antoine Galland
The Arabian Nights is now considered as one of the masterpieces of world literature. Many of you must have read the story of Aladdin or Ali Baba in your childhood. The world of the Arabian Nights has expanded nowadays into animation films and games. It is not such a long time ago that the Arabian Nights came to be known throughout the world. This story was first introduced to Europe exactly three hundred years ago.


Many mysteries abound around the Arabian Nights. Although the beautiful princess, Scheherazade, keeps narrating tales for a thousand and one nights, its earliest versions are believed to have been not that long. In the first section of this special exhibition, we unlock the mystery of its naissance.


Have you ever been aware of the difference between the reality and the general image of the Islamic Middle East? The second section of the exhibition looks into the gap between the cultural reality of the Islamic Middle East and its stereotypes through exhibits of objects surrounding nomadic life, women's clothing, belly dance, musical instruments, Arabic alphabet and so forth.


The fantasy of the Arabian Nights continues to be reproduced in various media. In the third section of the exhibition, we focus on the potential of the Arabian Nights as a source of fantastic imagination, which expands and transforms through the medium of art work, theater, movie, comics, and games. A rare chance to view a series of lithographs by Marc Chagall and a 3DCG animation jointly produced by the cartoonist, Monkey Punch, and the Museum.

●The Storyteller, Scheherazade

The narrator of the Thousand and One Nights. King Shahryar, who was deeply troubled by the unfaithfulness of women, took a new bride every night only to execute her at dawn. When Scheherazade becomes his new wife, she amuses him by telling interesting stories. The charmed king desists from her execution, and thus begins a long series of stories.

●Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp

Aladdin, a boy living in China, encounters a sorcerer claiming to be a brother of the boy’s deceased father. The sorcerer persuades Aladdin to retrieve the enchanted lamp from a secret cave. There, Aladdin finds the lamp for the sorcerer, but…

●Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

When Ali Baba was working in a mountain, a group of thieves arrive carrying gold and silver treasures. Ali Baba who gazed at the scene from a tree top saw that a cave opened when the boss chanted a spell, open sesame…

●Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor

Sindbad the Porter, living poorly in Baghdad, met a graceful old man with a white beard at a big house. He beckoned Sindbad the porter into the house and started telling mysterious adventure stories of the seven voyages that he, Sindbad the sailor, had experienced…
Admission Charges / Adults: ¥830 (Individual) / ¥560 (Group: more than 20 people)
Students (Senior High School and College): ¥450 (Individual) / ¥250 (Group: more than 20 people)
Children (Elementary and Junior High Schools): ¥250 (Individual) / ¥130 (Group: more than 20 people)
*Students of elementary, junior and senior high schools can enter the museum for free on Saturday.
*No additional payment is required for entry to the permanent exhibitions.