Artisans who lived by their swords

Sep 1, 2011

Artisans who lived by their swords

The samurai sword has long been a symbol of great allure in Japan. It conjures images of virility, tradition, austerity and the mystery of legends. Not only is it said that the Shinto gods possessed swords but, as part of the Imperial regalia, such ...

Sumptuary laws inspired Korean artisans to innovate

Jun 2, 2011

Sumptuary laws inspired Korean artisans to innovate

The Koryo Museum of Art’s recently launched exhibition, “Korean Decorative Objects and Containers,” features more than 150 folk works — including ceramics, paper crafts, furniture, silverware and wooden crafts — all of which were once utensils of some kind. These stunning examples of craftsmanship ...

Korean craft works that embody our desire to live forever

Mar 4, 2011

Korean craft works that embody our desire to live forever

Something that all cultures share is a fascination with longevity and immortality, and the art world is filled with imagery that addresses this. In Korean works of the Goryeo (918-1392) and Joseon (1392-1910) dynasties, this often took the form of auspicious symbolism. There were ...

Ephemeral beauty in the lives of Edo women

Nov 12, 2010

Ephemeral beauty in the lives of Edo women

The Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tokyo, is currently hosting an exhibition of Edo Period (1603-1867) ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the Museum for Art and Craft Hamburg, Germany. The museum houses one of the finest ukiyo-e collections in Europe, and has lent 237 pieces ...

Finding beauty in the simplest of things

Apr 16, 2010

Finding beauty in the simplest of things

The Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo’s Komaba area was founded by Muneyoshi Yanagi (1889-1961) in 1936 and built in the style of a traditional Japanese house. With natural light filtering through shoji screens, its unusual setting enhances the wonderful displays from its collection ...

Dynasties that knew good living

May 29, 2009

Dynasties that knew good living

Off the beaten path in the Kita-ku district in northern Kyoto sits a veritable jewel, the charming Koryo Museum of Art, which houses a collection of Korean traditional arts. Koryo is unique in Japan for its more than 20-year mission of exhibiting traditional Korean ...

The key to Joseon times

Nov 6, 2008

The key to Joseon times

Known as pungsu in Korean, feng shui was transmitted from China into Korean culture during the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935). The system of aesthetics taught that proper placement of the home in relation to natural elements would facilitate a flow of positive energy through ...

Contemplative in Gunma

Aug 28, 2008

Contemplative in Gunma

The Hara Museum ARC in Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, has just opened a revolutionary new space designed by world-renowned architect Arata Isozaki that interweaves motifs of Japanese traditional architecture and art with modern ones. Called the Kankai Pavilion, the exciting new exhibition space is being ...

The soul of the samurai on show

Jun 26, 2008

The soul of the samurai on show

Referred to as the soul of the samurai, the Japanese sword is a wonderful blend of elegance and power, artistry and craft. A careful examination of swords and their accouterments reveals exquisitely designed works of craftsmanship. The exhibit “Celebrated Swords of the Seikado Collection: ...

Tea and swords for the Shogun

Nov 22, 2007

Tea and swords for the Shogun

As with all military leaders of the preceding Momoyama Period (1573-1615), the Tokugawa were celebrated patrons of the arts. The sheer output of the craftsmen they employed reveals an indefatigable support of the arts that extended to the amassing of beautifully crafted swords, armor, ...