I started the day in my neighborhood of Inokashira park. I walked through Inokashira park which is adjacent to my house, to see if I could spot any early blooming Sakura (Cherry blossoms), no luck only a few Ume (Plum Blossom). I headed to the JR Kichijoji station and then decided to grab some lunch on my way to a gallery opening.
After lunch I hopped on the JR Chuo Line and, then a municipal bus to head out to Fuchu. Fuchu is a suburb in West Tokyo that is an economic center of the funeral industry and, home to internationally known companies such as Toshiba.
The bus’ stops were completely in Kanji & Kana. After almost a year of living in Tokyo my Japanese has improved in rapid fashion. For the most part I can understand the the gist of many conversations and have a decent command of Kana, however my ability to dis cipher Kanji [the characters Japanese borrowed from China and incorporated as the basis of their written language] is limited.
So I wrestled with Kanji for about 15 minutes on the bus but I survived. My reward: Immediately getting off the bus and spotting a Cherry tree.
In Japanese culture Sakura are considered heralds of spring amongst other things. They are the most significant bloom of the early spring season and represent the transition of cold weather to warm weather. In terms of expanse Japan far exceeds any country in the world when it comes to Cherry Blossom and, for a good two weeks cities and parks in each region of the country is almost entirely bathed in pink and white.
It was the opening of ‘His pictorial eloquence in the 21st century’ featuring the works of Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
Ukiyo-e meaning “The Floating world” was an art movement characterized by play and entertainment, purveyed by Japan’s three major cities: Osaka, Kyoto and, Edo [now called Tokyo].Ukiyo-e artist’s such as Kuniyoshi often used a technique called mokuhanga 木版画 [Woodblock printing]. It is a method originating in ancient China for printing text, images or patterns onto textiles and paper.
It was opening day so the museum was considerably crowded and I’ll likely return at a later date to further meditate on the work (the museum offers half off of admission for the 2nd visit at ¥375 or about $3.25 USD).
And in true spirit of Ukiyo-e artists free souvenir stamps were put at the end of the gallery so that visitors can have their own piece of Kuniyoshi’s work.
Utagawa Kuniyoshi: His Pictorial Eloquence is currently on display now at the Fuchu art museum and runs until May 5th, 2017. The Fuchu art museum also has a worthy permenant collection, if you are visiting or living in Tokyo I highly recommend a visit: 〒183-0001 Tokyo, Fuchu, Sengencho, 1 Chome−3番地.