Jump to content

Family Gallery: Diving into Screen Paintings: A New Way to Experience Japanese Art


    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room T4 & T5
    July 4, 2017 (Tue) - September 3, 2017 (Sun)

    Tokyo National Museum will hold the family-oriented program, Diving into Screen Paintings: A New Way to Experience Japanese Art, to coincide with summer vacation. This ground-breaking program will allow visitors to experience Japanese screen paintings through installations featuring video imagery and high-resolution reproductions of two famous masterpieces: Pine Trees from the Tokyo National Museum, and Cranes from the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
    Although screens were used for centuries to decorate and partition interior spaces, they are no longer a part of everyday life in Japan. This program, however, will allow visitors to come face to face with reproductions of screen paintings through installations that seamlessly blend full-scale reproductions of these paintings with video imagery. Visitors will be able to actively engage with these artworks using the five senses, with no exhibition cases to interfere with the experience.
    The reproductions of these screen paintings were made with high-resolution photography as part of the “Tsuzuri Cultural Heritage Inheritance Project,” conducted by Canon, Inc. and the Kyoto Culture Association, a nonprofit corporation, while the video imagery was created specifically for this program. These unique installations will allow children and adults of all nations to “dive into” brilliant screen paintings for a completely new art experience.

Experience Pine Trees in Room T5 of the Honkan (Japanese Gallery)

Room T5 of the Honkan will feature an installation that allows visitors to experience the world of Pine Trees with all the senses. A high-resolution reproduction of Pine Trees and a semicircular screen five meters in height and 15 meters in diameter will allow visitors to truly feel the scene depicted in this screen painting, complete with a breeze carrying the scent of pines. By sitting of tatami mats in front of the screens, visitors will also be able to view them as they were originally meant to be seen.

The installation in Room T5 of the Honkan (conceptional)

Pine Trees (right screen; a high-resolution reproduction created by the Tsuzuri Project)
Original: By Hasegawa Tohaku; Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century; pair of six-fold screens; ink on paper

About Pine Trees
The original: By Hasegawa Tohaku (1539–1610); Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century; pair of six-fold screens; ink on paper; Tokyo National Museum; National Treasure
The reproduction: created in 2008; pair of six-fold screens; printed on washi paper; 156.8 x 356.0 cm per screen
Both the original and the reproduction are held by the Tokyo National Museum.

Pine Trees is a masterpiece of Japanese ink painting that was created when the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–98) was unifying Japan under his rule. Although this painting was executed only with lines and gradations of monochrome ink, it succeeds in immersing the viewer in a misty scene with the wind blowing through the pines.
Pine Tree originally featured a larger composition that was later trimmed down and remounted on folding screens to take on its present form. It is possible that the scene preserved today originally included an ocean and mountains in the distance. Japanese paintings with pine groves are often depictions of the Miho pine grove near Mount Fuji or the Amanohashidate sandbar in Kyoto prefecture, yet the setting of Pine Trees remains a mystery. By combining the scene in Pine Trees with their personal memories, visitors can imagine the crashing of waves, feel the damp, seaside air, and even see birds flying among the fragrant pines.



Experience Cranes in Room T4 of the Honkan (Japanese Gallery)

Room 4 of the Honkan will feature a mysterious scene with Cranes as the centerpiece. Visitors will enter the installation to see cranes descending to the ground with wings fluttering. These majestic birds will then enter the scene portrayed in Cranes, which was created by Ogata Korin (1658 –1716), a celebrated artist of the Rinpa school. In this interactive installation, the cranes will move in response to visitors’ movements and the elaborate lighting will bring the beauty of the golden Cranes screens to life.

The installation in Room T4 of the Honkan (conceptional)

Cranes (left screen; a high-resolution reproduction created by the Tsuzuri Project)
Original: By Ogata Korin; Edo period, 17th–18th century; pair of six-fold screens; gold leaf and color on paper; Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
The reproduction: Created in 2012; pair of six-fold screens; printed on washi paper with applied gold leaf; 166.0 × 371.0 cm per screen; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, a Public Interest Incorporated Foundation)
Facsimiles of works in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Purchase, F1956.20, F1956.21

About Cranes
Cranes was created within the brilliant culture of the Genroku era (1688–1704). Each flock of cranes in this painting face the same direction, evoking an air of elegance.
Korin was born into a family of merchants who operating a luxury clothing store. Like the stenciled designs on kimono, the cranes in his painting are spaced rhythmically and share similar forms, with just a few cranes in different poses. Although the stylized cranes have a static feel, the golden background shimmers as the viewer moves by the screens, creating the illusion of movement. This illusion is enhanced through the stylized, rather than realistic, depictions of the cranes. In addition to bringing out these inherent qualities of the painting, this installation will create a dynamic scene in which additional cranes enter the golden screens.


“Playing with Folding Screens” Hands-on Corner

How are folding screens made? How do the paintings on them change when you position the screens in different ways?
Learn about folding screens while playing with miniature replicas.

Daily throughout the exhibition period
From 10:00 until closing


“Design Your Own Folding Screen” Worksheet

Worksheets for drawing your own folding screens will be handed out in the gallery.

Daily throughout the exhibition period
At the entrance of Room T4 and T5, Honkan (Japanese Gallery)

General Information

Period Tuesday, July 4 - Sunday, September 3, 2017
Venue Room T5&T4, Honkan
Hours 9:30 - 17:00, Fridays and Saturdays until 21:00
Sundays and July 17 until 18:00
(Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed Mondays and July 18 (Except for July 17 and August 14)
Admission Adults: 620 (520) yen
University students: 410 (310) yen
* Prices shown in ( ) indicate advance and group (more than 20 persons) discount tickets.
*  Persons with disabilities are admitted free with one accompanying person each.
* High/Junior High/Elementary School Students and persons under 18 and over 70: Free

Adults accompanying children of high-school age and under receive a 100-yen discount on Regular Exhibition admissions. (Valid for up to two adults with each child.)
*  Special exhibition "Thailand: Brilliant Land of the Buddha" (Tuesday, July 4 - Sunday, August 27, 2017, Heiseikan) requires a separate admission fee.
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
Organizers Tokyo National Museum, Canon Inc.
General Inquiries 03-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)
Exhibition Website  http://canon.jp/byobu/ (In Japanese)  



Related Exhibition

   Modern Art  Honkan Room 18  July 11, 2017 (Tue) - August 20, 2017 (Sun)