An unusual abundance of masterpieces

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Visitors view “Chinese Lions” at the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo on May 3. Left screen by Kano Tsunenobu, Edo period, 17th century; right screen by Kano Eitoku, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century

The Japan NewsFrom folding screens with images of Chinese lions to a cloisonne plaque of Mt. Fuji, a collection of 41 spectacular works is on display at the Tokyo National Museum in Taito Ward, Tokyo. The exhibition, “Masterpieces of Japanese Art: From Sesshu and Eitoku to Korin and Hokusai” is part of the Tsumugu Project: Promoting, Restoring and Preserving the Beauty of Japan’s Art, which is jointly organized by the Cultural Affairs Agency, the Imperial Household Agency and The Yomiuri Shimbun.

“It’s a very special opportunity in that each work is precious enough to be an exhibition’s main attraction,” said curator Katsura Washizu.

The exhibition includes five national treasures and 14 important cultural properties, with works originating in periods ranging from the 10th century to early 20th century. About half are drawings or paintings, while the rest include craftworks such as vases and calligraphy prints.

One of the highlights is the “Chinese Lions” pair of folding screens. The right screen was painted by Kano Eitoku, a maestro of the 16th century, while the left screen was painted by his great-grandson Tsunenobu in the next century, apparently by the order of their respective lords. The exhibition marks the first time in eight years that the two works are appearing together, according to the Museum of the Imperial Collections, to which the works belong.

“The left screen is not painted in the artist’s typical style, which is more gentle. We imagine that he imitated his great-grandfather’s bold touch [in order to make the screens look like a pair],” said Washizu.

The exhibition is open through June 2. An extra edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun explaining the collection’s highlights is available to visitors at the venue. Descriptions of each work are available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Audio guides are also available in these languages for ¥500.

■ How to see the exhibition

[Opening hours] 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Last entry 30 minutes before closing. Closed on Monday.

[Admission fees] Adults: ¥1,100. University students: ¥700. High school students: ¥400. Groups of 20 or more receive a ¥100 discount per person. Free for junior high school students and younger.

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