June 26 to August 18, 2019
“We are all born to play.” This famous line is from the Ryojin Hisho, a late twelfth-century collection of popular songs. In that spirit, this exhibition focuses on play, amusements, merrymaking as a theme in art. Games like sugoroku, a board game related to backgammon, or karuta, playing card games, dance, even fashion: men and women always become enthusiastically absorbed in enjoying all sorts of amusements. But their content changes over time. In this exhibition, famous seventeenth-century paintings and prints on the subject of recreation guide us to a deeper understanding of play in human life. Our fore-bearers made merry, sometimes artlessly, sometimes languorously. Let us imagine what merrymaking meant for them and what their secrets were for enjoying life in the floating world.
Screens of women engaged in various amusements,
The Matsura screens (National Treasure), Right screen of pair of six-fold screens (detail）
Edo period, 17th century, The Museum Yamato Bunkakan
September 4 to November 10, 2019
In the Momoyama period (late 16th century to early 17th century), the tea ceremony inspired the creation of new types of Japanese ceramics. At Mino, a ceramics center in what is now Gifu prefecture, new tea wares—Kiseto, Setoguro, Shino, and Oribe—blossomed. These ceramics, with their strong shapes, colors, and designs, earned extravagant praise. In this exhibition, we explore the secrets of their serene, yet highly individual appeal while comparing them with other arts and crafts from the same period. Through famous examples, we also introduce the renewed appreciation of Mino tea bowls and their resurgent popularity in the twentieth century, in the Taisho and Showa periods.
Nezumi-Shino flat bowl with willow tree design, Mino, Momoyama period
16th-17th centuries, Suntory Museum of Art