A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History

Japan is fortunate to have several national museums spread across the country.  The National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura City, Chiba (just over an hour outside of Tokyo), is enormous, with amazing exhibits featuring every age of Japanese history.  It would probably take a full day, maybe even longer, to fully explore everything the … Continue reading A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History

Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists

There are so many wonderful museums across Tokyo and across Japan.  Sometimes one finds the greatest treasures in the smallest of them. The current special exhibit at the Ota Folk Museum, "Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists",  is one such treasure. The exhibit, on the second floor of the museum, features woodblock … Continue reading Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists

Art Deco’s Exoticism On Display

One could argue that Art Deco, which takes its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, is a European--particularly French--style.  But one of the distinctive features of Art Deco is the way in which it drew on influences from around the world, particularly Africa and the … Continue reading Art Deco’s Exoticism On Display

Nihonga: Distinctly Japanese Modern Art

"Modern" Japan dates from the Meiji Restoration of 1868.  During the reign of the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), Japan modernized and Westernized.  This transformation included not only Japan's political, economic, and education systems, but also various aspects of fine arts.  With respect to the latter, many feared that Japan's cultural identity might be lost in the … Continue reading Nihonga: Distinctly Japanese Modern Art

The colors of Ko-Imari: it’s all about the glaze

Stepping into the latest exhibition at Shibuya's Toguri Museum of Art, I felt as if I was in heaven. The exhibition, entitled "Beautiful Glazes in Ko-Imari Ware", features the glazes used on Ko-Imari ware, some of Japan's earliest refined porcelains, dating back to the 17th century. The pieces on display are exquisite. It was refugee … Continue reading The colors of Ko-Imari: it’s all about the glaze

Exploring early industrialization in Izu

Japan's rapid industrialization during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), when the country was re-opened to international trade after more than 250 years of isolation, was nothing short of remarkable.  The various achievements of the period were recognized by UNESCO in 2015 when it listed 23 components at 11 sites as "Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: … Continue reading Exploring early industrialization in Izu

Asakura Museum of Sculpture – the legacy of a great 20th century artist

Asakura Fumio (1883-1964) is sometimes called the "Rodin of Japan", a modern, Western-style sculptor whose work is characterized by true-to-life imagery that was ahead of its time in Japan.  Although born and raised in Oita, Kyushu, he came to Tokyo as a young man to study at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and then … Continue reading Asakura Museum of Sculpture – the legacy of a great 20th century artist