Friday, December 23rd was tenno tanjobi: Emperor Hirohito’s (78th) birthday — a national holiday in Japan.
Rumi and I celebrated by taking in a couple of exhibitions at the Mari Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi Hills.
Our first and main purpose for going was to check out Kuniyoshi: Spectacular Ukiyo-e Imagination, on display until Sunday, 12th February 2012.
Ukiyo-e, a.k.a. “pictures of the floating world” is probably Japan’s most famous and easily recognizable artistic movement. Hokusai and Hiroshige both produced ukiyo-e printys and paintings, including Hiroshige’s 100 Famous Views of Edo and Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji.
Out of the 400+ works on display, mostly woodblock prints but also a few Edo-era “penny dreadful” novels and childrens’ books in remarkably well preserved condition, the ones that stood out for us the most were the storybook illustrations and the landscapes. Pictures of kabuki actors and geisha didn’t really interest either of us, but then we’re not really into celebrity culture. Neither of us read People magazine, or check out OMG!. Well, not that often…