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The Beauty of Japanese-style Calligraphy

The Beauty of Japanese-style Calligraphy
Heiseikan Special Exhibition Galleries   July 13, 2013 (Sat) - September 8, 2013 (Sun)

  
Poems of Bai Juyi, By Fujiwara no Kozei, Heian period, dated 1018 (National Treasure)

The history of Japanese calligraphy developed under the influence of Chinese calligraphy techniques. As Japanese styles of social systems and culture evolved in the mid-Heian period (around the 10th century), the renowned calligraphers Ono no Tofu, Fujiwara no Sari, and Fujiwara no Kozei appeared, who established the Japanese style of calligraphy. From then on, the tradition of Japanese-style calligraphy became central in the history of calligraphy in Japan. This exhibition introduces the allure of calligraphy by looking at its history, through an array of Japanese-style calligraphy masterpieces.



A National Treasure, Mido kanpaku ki by Fujiwara no Michinaga
First public exhibition after having been registered as “Memory of the World”

Highlight of the Exhibition

 

General Information

Period Saturday, July 13 - Sunday, September 8, 2013
Venue Heiseikan, Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park)
Hours 9:30 - 17:00 (Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays until 18:00
Fridays until 20:00
(Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed Mondays(Except for Monday, July 15, August 12)
Admission Adults: 1500 (1300/1200) yen
University students: 1200 (1000/900) yen
High school students: 900 (700/600) yen
Junior high school students and under: Free
* Prices shown in ( ) indicate advance and group (more than 20 persons) discount tickets.
* Persons with disabilities are admitted free with one accompanying person each.
* Advance tickets will be sale at the Museum ticket office (during museum hours, 30 minutes before closing hour), e-Ticket Pia (P-code:765-602), Lawson Ticket (L-code:31555), Seven Ticket (Seven code:021-948), E-Plus, JTB and other major ticketing agencies from Thursday, March 14, 2013 to Friday, July 12, 2013.  
*

Advance pair tickets (two admissions, 2000yen) will be sale at  the Museum ticket office (during museum hours, 30 minutes before closing hour), e-Ticket Pia (P-code:765-603), Lawson Ticket (L-code:31555), Seven Ticket (Seven code:021-948), E-Plus, JTB from Thursday, March 14, 2013  to Friday, May 31, 2013.

 
Access 10 minutes' walk from JR Ueno Station (Park exit) and Uguisudani Station
15 minutes' walk from Keisei Ueno Station, Tokyo Metro Ueno Station and Tokyo Metro Nezu Station
Organizer Tokyo National Museum, The Yomiuri Shimbun, NHK, NHK Promotions Inc.
With the Support of Agency for Cultural Affairs
With the Special Assistance of  THE YOMIURI SHOHOKAI (THE YOMIURI CALLIGRAPHY SOCIETY)
With the Sponsorship of Mitsumura Printing Co., Ltd
With the Assistance of Aioi Nissay Dowa insurance Co., Ltd
General Inquiries 03-5405-8686 (Hello Dial)
Exhibition Website http://wayo2013.jp (In Japanese)
The website has closed with the end of the exhibition.

Related Events

Heiseikan Auditorium  July 20, 2013 (Sat)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_FINISH
Heiseikan Auditorium  August 10, 2013 (Sat)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_FINISH

Related Exhibition

  The Beauty of Japanese-style Calligraphy from the Modern Era  Heiseikan Thematic Exhibition Room July 13, 2013 (Sat) - September 8, 2013 (Sun)

Highlight of the Exhibition


A National Treasure, Mido kanpaku ki by Fujiwara no Michinaga
First public exhibition after having been registered as “Memory of the World”

Part 1: Appreciating Calligraphy
Part 2: Three Great Calligraphers of the Heian Period and the Establishment of Kana
Part 3: Calligraphy and Faith
Part 4: Koyagire and Classic Works of Calligraphy
Part 5: The Sesonji School and the Development of the Japanese Style

 

First public exhibition, since being registered as “Memory of the World,” of the National Treasure, Mido kanpaku ki, the world’s oldest autographic diary, written by Fujiwara no Michinaga

Mido kanpaku ki is a diary written by Fujiwara no Michinaga (966–1027), who established the golden age ruled by regents and chancellors in the mid-Heian period. Matters of importance in regency government as well as the luxurious daily lives of the nobility are recorded in the diary. It is a first-class material which depicts the society and culture of those days. Michinaga is known to have built a close friendship with Fujiwara no Kozei, one of the three master calligraphers of the time, who excelled in Japanese-style calligraphy. Kozei’s influence can be detected in Michinaga’s style of brushwork.

Mido kanpaku ki (Diary of the Regent of the Great Hall), Scroll 2 of the year Kanko 4

By Fujiwara no Michinaga
Heian period, dated 1007 (Kanko 4)
National Treasure
Yomei Bunko Foundation, Kyoto
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013]
  Mido kanpaku ki Scroll 2 of the year Kanko 4

 

Mido kanpaku ki (Diary of the Regent of the Great Hall), Scroll 1 of the year Kanko 1

By Fujiwara no Michinaga
Heian period, dated 1004 (Kanko 1)
National Treasure
Yomei Bunko Foundation, Kyoto
[on exhibit from August 13 to  September 8, 2013]
  Mido kanpaku ki Scroll 1 of the year Kanko 1

 

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Part 1: Appreciating Calligraphy

Recognizing beauty in written characters, giving it form as calligraphy, and appreciating that calligraphy as artconstitutes a distinctive element of Japanese traditional culture. The kanji writing system was transmitted from the Chinese continent, then transformed by the Japanese in order to more accurately express their native language.
This led to the formation of the phonetic syllabary known as kana in the Heian period (794–1192). At the same time, even in rendering texts of Chinese kanji characters, a style of calligraphic expression characterized by gentle and more delicate lines was preferred. This softer form is what is known as wayo, or Japanese style.

 

Decorative Arts

 

 Eyebrow cosmetic box, table, and writing box, from the bridal trousseau of Chiyohime
Eyebrow cosmetic box, table, and writing Box, from the bridal trousseau of Chiyohime
Designs from the Hatsune chapter of the Tale of Genji in maki-e lacquer

By Koami Choju
Edo period, dated 1639(Kan'ei 16)
National Treasure
The Tokugawa Art Museum, Aichi
[Eyebrow cosmetic box: on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013, table, and writing box: on exhibit from August 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

Folding Screens

 

Cypress Grove with Poem
Calligraphy by Konoe Nobutada, Painting by Hasegawa Tohaku
Azuchi-Momoyama to Edo period, 16th - 17th century
Zenrinji, Kyoto
[on exhibit from August 6 to August 25, 2013]
  Cypress Grove
            with Poem

 

Calligraphy of Tea Ceremony

 

Sunshoan shikishi   Masu shikishi
Akihagi no Segment from the Kokin waka shu Poetry Anthology, Sunshoan shikishi version
Attributed to Ki no Tsurayuki
Heian period, 11th century
Important Cultural Property
The Gotoh Museum, Tokyo
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 4, 2013]
  Poem Ima wa haya, Masu shikishi version
Attributed to Fujiwara no Kozei
Heian period, 11th century
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from August 6 to September 8, 2013]

 

 Tsugi shikishi
Poem Yoshino kawa, on Joined Poem Cards Tsugi shikishi version
Attributed to Ono no Tofu
Heian period, 11th century
Important Cultural Property
Agency for Cultural Affairs
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 4, 2013]

 

The Calligraphy of Rulers

 

Letter, to Yoichiro   >Letter, to One
Letter, to Yoichiro
By Oda Nobunaga
Azuchi-Momoyama period, dated 1577 (Tensho 5)
Important Cultural Property
Eisei Bunko Museum, Tokyo
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013]
  Letter, to One
By Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Azuchi-Momoyama period, dated 1593 (Bunroku 2)
Important Cultural Property
Kodaiji, Kyoto
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013]

 

Letter, to Choho
By Tokugawa Ieyasu
Edo period, 17th century
Important Art Object
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 4, 2013]
  Letter, to Choho

 

Model Book of Exemplary

 

Model Book of
            Exemplary   Model Book of Exemplary
Model Book of Exemplary
Calligraphy:
Kanbokujo
Nara to Muromachi period, 8th - 16th century
National Treasure
MOA Museum of Art, Shizuoka
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013]
  Model Book of Exemplary
Calligraphy:
Moshiogusa
Nara to Muromachi period, 8th - 16th century
National Treasure
Kyoto National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013]
Model Book of Exemplary   Model Book of Exemplary
Model Book of Exemplary
Calligraphy: Minu yo no tomo
Nara to Muromachi period, 8th - 16th century
National Treasure
Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo
[on exhibit from August 13 to August 25, 2013]
  Model Book of Exemplary
Calligraphy: O tekagami
Nara to Muromachi period, 8th - 16th century
National Treasure
Yomei Bunko Foundation, Kyoto
[on exhibit from August 13 to September 9, 2013]

 

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Part 2: Three Great Calligraphers of the Heian Period and the Establishment of Kana

In the mid-Heian period, three exceptional calligraphers — Ono no Tofu (894–966), Fujiwara no Sari (944–998), and Fujiwara no Kozei (972–1027) — developed a delicate and elegant calligraphic style that grew out of a distinctly Japanese aesthetic sensibility.
During this same time period, the Kokin waka shu imperial poetry anthology was compiled and an evolution of various kinds of kana characters accompanied the rise of waka culture. Since Japan did not have a writing system of its own in ancient times, the first kanji characters to arrive there were known as mana (“formal writing”) or otoko-de (“men’s hand”), while the simplified characters that abbreviated and transformed these mana characters into a cursive style were called karina (“provisional writing”). This word karina was elided to become kanna and eventually further shortened to become the word kana.

 

Imperial Record of Posthumous
            Promotion and Conferring of Epithet on Priest Enchin
Imperial Record of Posthumous Promotion and Conferring of Epithet on Priest Enchin
By Ono no Tofu
Heian period, dated 927 (Encho 5)
National Treasure
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

Poem on Kaishi Poem Card   Poem on Kaishi Poem Card
By Fujiwara no Sari
Heian period, dated 969 (Anna 2)
National Treasure
The Kagawa Museum, Kagawa
[on exhibit from July 30 to September 8, 2013]

 

Poems of Bai Juyi
Poems of Bai Juyi
By Fujiwara no Kozei
Heian period, dated 1018 (Kannin 2)
National Treasure
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

New discovery!

Earthenware Vessel with Ink Inscription
Discovered at the site of the Fujiwara Yoshimi residence
Heian period, 9th century
Kyoto City Archaeological Research Institute
[on exhibit from July 13 to September 8, 2013]
  Earthenware Vessel with Ink
                        Inscription

 

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Part 3: Calligraphy and Faith

Since the time it was introduced to Japan, Buddhism was accompanied by the practice of transcribing sutra texts. The somber calligraphic style of sutra copying at the Nara court was somber, which continued into the Heian period. However, from around the time when envoy missions to Tang China ceased, Japanese-style culture had begun to spread. Calligraphic styles that had until that time which followed Chinese styles became moderated by a softness of touch.
The utmost care is concentrated in every detail of the works, starting with the graceful Japanese-style calligraphy through to the details of the paper, the rollers, and even the wrapping braidscords. These magnificent sutra scrolls represent the height of ornamentation and thein ultimate sophistication of the culture of the time.

 

Lotus Sutra,
            Known as Chikubujima kyo
Lotus Sutra, Known as Chikubujima kyo
Heian period, late 10th - early 11th century
National Treasure
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

Fan-shaped Albums of the Lotus Sutra, Volume 1 and Kanfugen kyo Sutra
Heian period, 12th century
National Treasure
Shitennoji, Osaka
[Volume 1:on exhibit from July 13 to July 28, 2013, Kanfugen kyo: on exhibit from July 30 to August 12, 2013]
  Fan-shaped

 

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Part 4: Koyagire and Classic Works of Calligraphy

During the period from the tenth to the eleventh century, when Japanese-style calligraphy was becoming established, the kana syllabary also came into being. The fragmentary texts together known as the Koyagire exemplify the consummation of the kana form.
These calligraphic writings by people of ancient times are known as classic works of calligraphy (kohitsu), a term primarily used to refer to poetry anthologies from the Heian (794–1192) to the Kamakura period (1192–1333).
From the Koyagire onward, noted calligraphers transcribed poetic anthologies such as the Kokin waka shu and Wakan roei shu onto magnificently decorated writing papers. Among the noble families of the time, such works were considered precious gifts that were presented as “ornamental model books.” Later, with the popularity of tea ceremony and the practice of assembling collections into albums, many ancient writings were divided into fragmentary sections. Nevertheless ornamental model books that survived in their original form were passed down with great care.

 

Kokin waka shu
            Poetry Anthology, Volume 20, Koyagire version   Kokin waka shu Poetry Anthology, Volume 20, Koyagire version
Attributed to Ki no Tsurayuki
National Treasure
Heian period, 11th century
Tosa Yamauchi Family Treasury and Archives, Kochi
[on exhibit from July 13 to July 28, 2013]

 

Wakan roei shu
            Poetry Anthology, Sekido version
Wakan roei shu Poetry Anthology, Sekido version
By Minamoto no Kaneyuki
Heian period, 11th century
Important Cultural Property
Agency for Cultural Affairs
[scroll 1:on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013, scroll 2:on exhibit from August 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

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Part 5: The Sesonji School and the Development of the Japanese Style

For a long time, the descendants of Fujiwara no Kozei served as official copyists at the imperial court and their calligraphic style later came to be known as the Sesonji School, a style that occupied an important position in the history of Japanese calligraphy.
Emperor Fushimi (1265–1317), who was known as one of the great calligraphers of his time, demonstrated a mastery of Heian-period calligraphy in his fluid writing style, and his son, Prince Son'en (1298–1356), studied calligraphy from Sesonji Yukifusa and Yukitada, building on a mastery of older calligraphic styles to construct a unique style. His style had a great influence on later eras through the Shoren'in School and what would later become the Oie School. In the Muromachi period, many calligraphic schools lost their individuality and became stylized, and from this time forward, calligraphy spread as more of a practical writing form.
As the society became stable in the Edo period, Konoe Nobutada, Hon'ami Koetsu, and other artists developed a dynamic and personalized approach to calligraphy based on the kana of classical times. The liberal combination of text and image was achieved by the ambitious creativity of Nobutada's large-format kana, Koetsu's waka poetry scrolls, and other innovative works, defining a new realm of beauty.

 

Kokin waka shu
            Poetry Anthology, Gen'ei version
Kokin waka shu Poetry Anthology, Gen'ei version
By Fujiwara no Sadazane
Heian period, 1120 (Gen'ei 2)
National Treasure
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to July 28, 2013]

 

Poems of the
            Thirty-six Poet Immortals, Honganji version
Poems of the Thirty-six Poet Immortals, Honganji version (Tsurayuki shu 1 and Shitago shu)
Tsurayuki shu 1: By Fujiwara no Sadazane
Shitago shu: By Fujiwara no Sadanobu
Heian period, 12th century
National Treasure
Nishi Hongwanji, Kyoto
Tsurayuki shu 1:on exhibit from July 13 to August 12, 2013, Shitago shu:on exhibit from August 13 to September 8, 2013]

 

Waka Poetry Scroll
            with Underpaintings of Flowers of the Four Seasons
Waka Poetry Scroll with Underpaintings of Flowers of the Four Seasons
By Hon'ami Koetsu
Edo period, 17th century
Private collection
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 4, 2013]

 

Narrative Picture
            Scroll of the Chronicle of the Heiji Civil War: The Removal of the Imperial Family to Rokuhara
Narrative Picture Scroll of the Chronicle of the Heiji Civil War: The Removal of the Imperial Family to Rokuhara
Calligraphy attributed to Fujiwara no Noriie
Kamakura period, 13th century
National Treasure
Tokyo National Museum
[on exhibit from July 13 to August 4, 2013]

 

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