For the Japanese corporate and organizational title of this name, see Japanese corporate title.

From the Edo period of Japan onwards, kaicho (開帳, also known as gokaicho) was the public exhibition of religious objects from Buddhist temples, usually relics or statuary, that were normally not on display.[1][2] Such exhibitions were often the bases for public fairs, which would involve outdoor entertainment activities, market trading, and misemono.[2]

kaicho literally means "the opening of the curtain", and the purpose of keeping such icons hidden from public view except on special occasions was twofold. First, it upheld the sanctity of the objects that were displayed, where making them viewable to the public all of the time would otherwise serve to devalue their religious impacts. Second, it served as both advertisement and as a fund-raiser for the temple.[3]

Accounts of such kaicho being held in Kamakura and Kyoto can be found dating from before the Edo period, but they only became truly popular during the 17th century. The occurrence of kaicho outside of temple grounds were primarily an Edo city phenomenon. The first such exterior kaicho in Edo was in 1676.[1]


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