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‘The World of Red and White’

by Yuhei Wada

Hasegawa Machiko Museum
Closes Feb. 13

If you were to ask a Japanese person to name a very popular anime titles, he or she would likely mention “Sazae-san,” the amusing adventures of a ordinary Japanese family. While the TV program and the original comic-book series has become a household name, loved nationwide since its beginnings in the postwar era, not all “Sazae-san” fans may know that the series’ author, Machiko Hasegawa (1920-1992), was also an avid art collector. She owned more than 100 art pieces, a collection that is now housed at the Hasegawa Machiko Museum in Setagaya Ward and has since been added to by her sister Mariko.

Today, the museum houses about 700 artworks and “Aka to Shiro no Sekai” (“The World of Red and White”), which brings together around 30 artworks using those colors) is just one of five exhibitions held this year.

The main attraction is “Wakame — Tsubaki” (“A Girl — Camellia,” 2002), a nihonga (Japanese-style) painting by Ikuyo Yasuda. The “girl,” a young attractive woman, wears a red kimono, her face, outline and hair depicted in sensitive brush strokes. The vividness of the kimono emphasizes her subtly red-tinged cheek, evoking vitality and the artist’s fascination with youth. That youthful concept becomes even more profound when the painting is compared with “Haha to Ko — Asu e” (“Mother and Child — For Tomorrow,” 2002), another work by Yasuda, this time portraying a mother and child in white.

Another impressive piece is “Waterfall” (2002), a huge painting by Hiroshi Senju, which shows the dynamic white splash of a foaming waterfall against a serene deep-blue background. Just as the exhibition’s combination of red and white evokes thoughts of the Japanese flag, this selection of art is representative of a Japanese aesthetic — the tranquil with the energetic.

For those wanting to know more about Hasegawa herself, the museum’s permanent section displays the artist’s drawings and comic-book works — a must-see for fans of “Sazae-san.” Hasegawa’s background and career are documented by her own hand in cartoons and there is even a miniature model of Sazae-san’s house. This is an exhibition that art connoisseurs, the nostalgic and children should all enjoy.

Hasegawa Machiko Museum is open daily 10 a.m.-17:30 p.m., closed Mon., admission ¥600. There will be a guided tour in Japanese on Jan. 15, from 2 p.m. For more information, visit hasegawamachiko.jp (Japanese only)