Reports on EventsThe followings are my personal reports on the exhibitions that I saw. I hope the reports give you the idea of what the events were like if you couldn't attend. Also, I try to write and post my report during the period of the exhibition.
"Contemporary Netsuke: Masterful Miniatures"
Exhibition at Museum of Arts and Design
January 25 - June 17, 2007
Major exhibition of contemporary netsuke - it has been a while since we had the last one. Drawn from American imporant collections including Mr. Robert O. Kinsey, this exhibition features more than 100 superb works most of which have never been publicly shown before. On January 24 my parents and I attended the opening reception at the museum and the home party hosted by generous museum supporters. For me it was very interesting to experience a bit of "the world of art" in New York City. Report on this exhibition by the committee of the museum and world-wide design coordinator Ms. EBIHARA Yoshiko can be viewed at the following page on Japan Design Net. The text is mostly in Japanese, but many images of installation and exhibited pieces are also available, so please take a look!
Komada Makiko, April 21, 2007
"Netsuke-shi Itaro's Carvings of Netsuke - In Your Pocket -"
Exhibition at Tea & Gallery Hanakagesho
September 7 - 19, 2004
Among some 20 works on display, I especially liked the pieces for which Itaro got inspirations from ichii itto-bori (single-cut yew-wood carvings). Though he may be new as netsuke artist, Itaro already has an established career in the field of wood-engraving print. It would be marvelous if both his netsuke and prints are available for viewing at the same time. For instance, I am most interested see how he would express an identical subject in the two media, i.e., two-dimensional wood print and three-dimensional netsuke! (Incidentally, green tea at Hanakagesho was very tasty.)
Komada Makiko, September 13, 2004
"The Luxury of the Fashionable in Edo: Smoking Paraphernalia Par Excellence"
Exhibition at Hirano Museum of Art
April 8 - June 4, 2000
Since April 8, an interesting exhibition of smoking implements has been held at Hirano Museum of Art in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture. The exhibits are from the Kinoshita collection housed in Kakegawa Ninomaru Museum of Art, also in Shizuoka prefecture. The collection was originally accumulated and later donated to Kakegawa Ninomaru Museum by the late Mr. Kinoshita Mitsuo, who collected smoking implements, sword fittings, accessories, calligraphy, paintings and other related items.
The present exhibition at Hirano Museum of Art focuses on smoking paraphernalia, including tobacco pouches with pipe cases or netsuke, inro, wooden tobacco cases called tonkotsu, tobacco trays, pipes, and paintings and prints in which smoking implements appear.
Among the exhibits, two differing wares drew my special attention. One was a selection of tobacco trays. Those that we normally see in exhibitions are elaborately lacquered and sprinkled with gold ---dazzling and gorgeous examples, probably made for and owned by aristocrats. Most of the trays in this exhibition, however, were unpretentious in appearance, probably used by common people. I thought that they were tasteful, and that they would make wonderful furniture in a purely Japanese-style room. The other items that caught my eyes were tonkotsu (wooden tobacco cases). There were ten sets of tonkotsu, differing in size and design, either with netsuke or pipe cases. I had never seen so many tonkotsu displayed in one place and found them to be very amusing.
If I had any criticism to make at all, it would be that the showcases in the gallery seemed somewhat too large to display such small things as smoking equipment. I was told that the Museum houses and generally exhibits a collection of Buddhist paintings, and the showcases were designed to display those larger items. However, some color illustrations in which the names and explanations of the constituents of tobacco pouches or pipes were shown; hence the showcases looked somewhat less empty. I feel this shows that the curators tried hard to familiarize viewers with smoking implements that have fallen into disuse for several decades.
I had the opportunity to talk with one of the museum curators. She wishes that the Museum would be better known to the public and would have more visitors. She told me that some of the items on display would be changed around the beginning of May, and the exhibition would run through June 4, 2000.
From left: the gallery, tobacco trays, tonkotsu.
Leaflet, Hirano Museum of Art (c) 2000
Komada Makiko, April 26, 2000
Exhibition at the Tobacco and Salt Museum
February 26 - April 9, 2000
From February 26 through April 9, 2000, Tobacco and Salt Museum in Tokyo held the exhibition entitled "Otoko-no Yosooi," meaning "Men's Accessories." This exhibition featured various small pouches, omamoribukuro (i.e. amulet cases), inro, netsuke (about one hundred and fifty pieces), ojime, yatate (i.e. portable writing instruments), pipe cases, tobacco pouches (see the picture on the left), match cases and cigarette lighters. The exhibits were from the collections of Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, Kakegawa Ninomaru Museum of Art, Edo-Tokyo Museum and some individuals, as well as from the collection of the Tobacco and Salt Museum itself.
I think that this exhibition was remarkable in the following three points. First, the present exhibition successfully offered a general view of men's accessories used in Japan between Edo period and the present, by showing a wide variety of items including kakemamori (amulet cases in the form of shoulder-bag), match cases (see the picture on the right), and different kinds of small pouches, which are, as far as I know, rarely displayed in museums. Netsuke lovers tend to consider and enjoy netsuke as discrete, self-contained objects. However, the bird-eye's view provided by this exhibition reminded us that netsuke emerged and developed in the context of "accessories" as a part of ensemble with small pouches and inro rather than independent, ornamental articles.
Second, a curator of the Museum gave a "gallery talk," i.e. the introductory tour of the gallery, on March 5th, 11th, and 19th, though tours in museums are still not very common in Japan. I attended the tour on March 5th along with approximately ten other people, some of whom took advantage of the curator's expertise by asking questions about some exhibits. The talk was very clear and, in comparison with the written explanations on the panels in the gallery, it was more effective for me to feel more familiar with the items on display.
Third, as the curator mentioned during the gallery talk, the exhibits contained a rather large number of ojime, which are usually paid little attention in exhibitions. It was spectacular to see so many beautiful ojime made of a variety of materials, including wood, metals, glass, coral, and so on.
In conclusion, it was unfortunate that they did not publish a catalogue for this exhibition, but I think the gallery talk compensated for it. I feel fortunate to have seen this wonderful exhibition.
Photos by courtesy of Tobacco and Salt Museum
Leaflet, Tobacco and Salt Museum (c) 2000
Komada Makiko, April 10, 2000
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All rights reserved. Komada Makiko (c) 2000