Guest Post: Four Masterpieces Joined by the Spirit of Water

Water falls from above, and from below, falls
Four Masterpieces Joined by the Spirit of Water
By Susanna Brooks, Curator of Japanese Art

It is summer, and the rainy season is upon us at Morikami. Rain falls practically every afternoon. The sky becomes dark and the rain falls fast and heavy, culminating into torrential downpours that draw everyone to the windows to take in the stunning, mesmerizing view of water falling from the sky and cascading down the rain chains, nourishing the plants, and dislocating the pebbles in the once-neatly-raked dry garden.

Morikami summer rain

Morikami’s dry garden and rain chains during a summer storm.

Rain is universally revered for its ability to create and sustain life and respected for the power it has to wound and raze nature when it falls hard and long. This entry provides an abbreviated exploration of the element of water as a meaningful motif in Japanese philosophy and art, primarily as the main subject of two famous 19th-century woodblock prints, which, in turn, share an affinity with two 19th-century Western masterpieces.

Water sustains all life, made evident by the fact that both the Earth and human body are composed of 70 percent water. For many cultures water holds spiritual symbolic meaning, with the natural attributes of water – its flexibility and adaption to change and transformation – equated to ideal human emotions and actions.

A precept of Japanese Buddhism holds water ( sui, or mizu) second in importance to Earth in the cycle of the five elements of the universe (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Nothingness). Representations of these five elements are present time and again in the design of Japanese architecture, stone lanterns, Buddhist temples and Zen-inspired gardens. In Shintō, the native religion of Japan, water is venerated and presided over by Susano-o, god of the sea and storms, Kuraokami (literally, “dark dragon, tutelary of water”), god of rain and snow, and Suijin, the benevolent deity of water itself. A goal of spiritual practice within Shintō is to become like the flow of water, blurring divisions and transcending boundaries. For that reason, many devotees practice purification rituals under waterfalls (taki shugyō).

As a meaningful element in Japanese art and architecture, water is a leitmotif of many Japanese woodblock prints. Katsushika Hokusai, the artist of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, one of the most recognized images in the world, believed that water was sacred and had the power to purify and restore life in accordance with the natural flow of divine awareness. To Hokusai, water represented the flowing of formlessness in the universe.

Katsushika Hokusai (ca. 1760 – 1849) Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji: The Great Wave off of Kanagawa Woodblock print; ink and colors on paper Edo Period, ca. 1829 – 1832 Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Katsushika Hokusai (ca. 1760 – 1849)
Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji: The Great Wave off of Kanagawa
Woodblock print; ink and colors on paper
Edo Period, ca. 1829 – 1832
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hokusai and his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji inspired the great, woodblock print artist Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige. Hiroshige was a plein aire artist who strived to depict nature faithfully. He sketched his landscape scenes out-of-doors and then had the images transferred to woodblocks.  Here, he captures a group of travelers caught in a rain storm. Hiroshige recorded this scene while traveling with an official delegation through Ise Province in Mie Prefecture.

Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige (1797 – 1858) Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō: Shōno-juku Woodblock print, ink and color on paper Edo Period, 1833 – 1834 Gift of Brigitte and Joseph Lonner 1998.065.001

Utagawa (Andō) Hiroshige (1797 – 1858)
Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō: Shōno-juku
Woodblock print, ink and color on paper
Edo Period, 1833 – 1834
Gift of Brigitte and Joseph Lonner
1998.065.001

The image is part of the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, a series of prints commemorating the Eastern Sea route from Edo (present-day Tokyo) to Kyoto. Considered Hiroshige’s most famous series, the Fifty-Three Stations was a pivotal watershed in ukiyo-e, for it greatly advanced the landscape as a key subject of this popular woodblock print genre. [1]

Hiroshige traveled the Tōkaidō in 1832 as part of an official delegation that was transporting horses, a gift from the Shogun to the Emperor as a symbol of his loyalty and as a way to pay his respects to the divine ruler of Japan. The landscape so impressed Hiroshige that he captured the journey in a series of sketches. When it was completed, the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō numbered fifty-five, with the extra two commemorating the start and end points. Shōno-juku is the forty-fifth of the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō.

Just as Hiroshige is celebrated for his rural landscape scenes, so French Impressionist Gustave Caillebotte is best-known for capturing the daily nuances of life on the streets of Paris. In this larger than life-size scene, Paris Street; Rainy Day, Caillebotte brings us practically face to face with a fashionable flâneur (French man of leisure) and his lady strolling in the rain.[2] With its cropped, zoomed-in angles, sharp tilted ground, and flat color palette, Rainy Day has a grand photo-realistic presence and a sensibility reminiscent of 19th-century Japanese prints, which had become all the rage among the French Impressionists. Like Hiroshige, Caillbotte captured a precise moment in time. As the painting’s simple, straightforward title suggests, Rainy Day takes rain as its main subject and creates around it a snapshot of daily life, turning an otherwise ordinary scene into a timeless, monumental work of art.

Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894) Paris Street, Rainy Day 1877 Oil on canvas Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894)
Paris Street, Rainy Day
1877
Oil on canvas
Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Another timeless and iconic work of art that takes water as its theme is Fallingwater, one of the greatest architectural achievements of the 20th century. Designed in 1935 by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater is a 2855 square-foot house built out over a 30-foot waterfall. The home has strong Japanese elements, particularly the manner in which the structure blends in with its environment, harmoniously bridging nature and man. As Japanese architect Tadao Ando has observed, “…Wright learned the most important aspect of architecture, the treatment of space, from Japanese architecture. When I visited Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, I found that same sensibility of space. But there was the additional sound of nature that appealed to me.”[3] The “sound” that Ando referred to was the melodious song of falling water for which the house is named.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1859) Fallingwater 1936 – 1939 Photo courtesy of Fallingwater.org

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 – 1859)
Fallingwater
1936 – 1939
Photo courtesy of Fallingwater.org

Of the 400 structures that Wright built in his lifetime, Fallingwater is considered his greatest masterpiece. The house embraces the essence of Wright’s aesthetic design philosophy, a concept he originated and called organic architecture, which espoused the construction of structures that were in harmony with humanity and the environment. Wright was also a prolific, and for a time, successful, dealer of ukiyo-e, such as those that Hokusai and Hiroshige made and Caillebotte collected.

As water is connected to humanity and the environment, so Frank Lloyd Wright is connected to Japan and Japanese woodblock prints. When Wright first traveled to Japan in 1905, he purchased hundreds of ukiyo-e, including Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji and Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō. The following year, he assisted the curators of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Caillebotte’s Rainy Day is prominently displayed, in organizing a retrospective exhibition of the work of Hiroshige, which featured all fifty-five of the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō. Perhaps the correlation between all four of these artists and their masterpieces is merely coincidental, but I like to think that the spirit of water, in all its glorious forms, serendipitously linked their flow.


[1] Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the Floating World,” describes a genre of woodblock prints and paintings that depicted scenes from everyday life in and around the merchant’s quarters of Edo, primarily the districts they created for pleasure and entertainment. Themes of ukiyo-e include beautiful women (geisha and courtesans), kabuki theater, sumo, historical scenes, and landscapes. The term ukiyo is associated with the Buddhist concept of impermanence and the sorrows (uki) of life (yo), a notion that underscores the temporariness of life, youth, and human desire and pleasure.

[2] Rainy Day is a stately painting that measures 83.5” x 108.7” (approximately 6.9’ W x 9’ H).

[3] Tadao Ando, 1995 Laureate: Biography. The Hyatt Foundation. 1995.

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Emi & Katsu’s Hatsume Top Five

For those of you in the mood for a countdown, Hatsume is just two weeks away! We’re excited to share this uniquely spring celebration with you all, and our Hatsume mascots, Emi and Katsu, can’t wait to tell you about what we’ve got in store. We’ll hand over the reins to lovely Emi now as she presents:

Emi & Katsu’s Hatsume Top 5!

#5: Spring Morikami Style

Katsu and I love to stroll through Roji-en on a festival day! The gardens are buzzing with excitement, especially when Roji-en is in full spring bloom. Enjoy an open-air tea ceremony or picnic under hand-crafted cherry blossoms. Oh, and make sure to pick up a Morikami picnic blanket!

#4: Treats & Eats

Katsu and I disagree on what’s the absolute best thing to eat at Hatsume (he likes the Japanese snacks at the Museum Store’s Sweet Shop, while I like the Cornell Café’s special Chirashizushi), but we can agree that there are LOTS of great things to try. From the Sweet Shop in the Museum Store, to Japanese and American favorites throughout the grounds, there’s plenty of good eats to be had. You can get an idea of what to try by checking out the menu ahead of time (Pro tip: it’s also a good idea to see how many tickets you’ll need for festival food or the Cornell Café while you mull over the menu.)

Once you’ve purchased your piping hot Spring Rolls, you’ll want a nice chilled beverage to go with them. Visit the Kirin Beer Garden or the ever-popular Sake Station – staffed by Stacole Fine Wines, and a very special guest directly from Japan: Richard Priest of the Kikusui Brewery! Richard will pour some delicious selections from his brewery AND squeeze in some Sake 101 talks.

#3: Shop & Play

Once we’ve had our fill of delicious food and drinks, Katsu and I like to meander through the avenues of craft, plant and tea vendors. There are so many wonderful vendors to see that we need both days to scout out what we want to purchase (That’s why we’re so excited about the new weekend pass!) Whether you like handmade jewelry, bonsai trees, authentic Japanese teas, or locally designed apparel, there’s something for everyone in the Hatsume Marketplace.

After we’ve closed the deal on some fantastic finds, Katsu can’t wait to head to the kids’ activities. This year he’s especially excited about making onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, with the education staff. Katsu is also looking forward to playing with ribbon kites and making his own origami planter with matching origami butterfly!

#2: Anime @ Hatsume

Anime has been one of mine and Katsu’s favorite parts of Hatsume since it was added in 2009. We can’t wait to see all the exciting things Tate’s and the other anime vendors will bring! Katsu loves to watch the Fine Print Shoppe live screen print t-shirts, and this year yours truly are featured on the shirts (designed by local artist TeslaCake)! You can get your Emi or Katsu shirt printed for FREE when you bring your own shirt, or buy one for $10.

As if the anime vendors weren’t enough to keep you busy all day, this year – for the first time ever- there will be a Hatsume Arcade featuring classic Japanese video games like Pacman, Dance Dance Revolution, and Galanga. When you’ve danced your heart out in the theater, head over to the Morikami Caricature station in the lobby, and take home your very own hand-drawn caricature to commemorate your day at Hatsume.

Last but certainly not least, bee-line to the Pikachu stage on Saturday for the Costume Contest, and on Sunday for the 2nd Annual Fashion Show (just one more reason we think you should try out a weekend pass). The colorful and creative outfits are sure to wow in the last few hours of the festival, and the competition is fierce!

#1: Action-Packed Entertainment

That brings us to the number one thing we love about Hatsume Fair – the entertainment!

We’ll hear Richard Priest of Kikusui Brewery give us the sake lowdown on the Pikachu Stage, before it transforms into a runway for the hottest costume and fashion contests this side of Palm Beach. Come strut your stuff or play paparazzi!

Over at the Osaka Stage you’ll witness the stamina and dedication of the very best of local martial artists. Hatsume is the only time of year you can see all these athletes in one place, so don’t miss out!

And, finally, on the Tokyo Stage: take in the rumbling of the taiko drums! You might have guessed that this is Katsu’s favorite part of the day, and he can’t wait to take part in the interactive kids’ taiko show at noon on both days. The Tokyo stage plays host to Ronin Taiko & the Wadaiko Academy on Saturday, and Fushu Daiko on Sunday. So, if you want to pick your favorite, you’ll have to get that weekend pass!

Thanks to Emi & Katsu for helping us pick out the best parts of Hatsume, and please feel free to add to the list in the comments below – we love hearing from you! See you all in a couple of weeks!

Emi & Katsu-03

We Want You!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go behind the scenes at a Morikami festival, or if you’re searching for a fun way to give back, search no further – volunteering at Lantern Festival gets you Morikami insider status and most of all, supports yours truly!

Volunteer responsibilities range from lantern building to helping out in the galleries and everything in between. We’re looking for individuals, small groups and large groups to help us make Lantern Festival a success. Volunteers are the backbone of our programs and events, so we thank you in advance for being such an integral part in this celebration.

Want to see what you’re in for? Check out the gallery below for snapshots of our volunteers in action and head over to our festival volunteer page to fill out an application. We’ll see you in October!

 

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Explore, Wish, Taste, Create: Celebrating Tanabata at Morikami

Friday evening’s Sushi & Stroll is especially festive as we gear up for Tanabata, Japan’s Star Festival. We’re excited to offer you a couple of ways to get in on this whimsical celebration.

Explore
The galleries will be open all evening to give you a glimpse at our current exhibit Tanabata: Japan’s Star Festival – Views of Tanabata In São Paulo, Brazil by Jade Matarazzo. The exhibit features a selection of photographs by Jade Matarazzo, who captured the Tanabata festival as it’s celebrated in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. Take it  in with the backdrop of live Brazilian guitar music.

Wish
Beginning on Friday and continuing through July 11, we invite you to make a wish on our Tanabata tree. We’ll have colorful tanzaku slips available for you to write your wish and hang it on the bamboo tree, in keeping with Japanese custom. Need a little inspiration? Check out the wishes already on display in the galleries!

Taste
Back by popular demand, our resident Sake Specialist, Carrie Becker, will sell a range of specially selected sakes that will pair perfectly with whatever you choose from the Cornell Café, sweet or savory. Be sure to check out the café’s Sushi & Stroll menu to whet your appetite for Friday, too!

Create
Whether you’re celebrating the Star Festival or the Stars and Stripes, you can color and fold your very own origami star. Learn how with this simple tutorial, and feel free to share your creations with us here, on facebook, instagram, twitter or pinterest. Here’s ours:

origami stars tanabata

As always, the garden will be open to stroll, and we’ll feature two taiko performances by the ever-popular Fushu Daiko. Tickets for taiko are $2, and often sell out, so be sure to get your tickets early in the evening!

With so many ways to celebrate, we hope you’ll join us for this evening full of delicious flavors, colorful sights, and captivating sounds. See you Friday!

From I Do to Congratulations, Morikami Offers Beautiful Celebrations

We all know the four basic seasons (even if we don’t get to enjoy them to the fullest here in South Florida) but here at Morikami, and venues across the nation, a fifth season is in full swing – Wedding Season! From photo sessions to dress alterations, cake tastings to music selections, we know all about the joys (and stresses) weddings can bring. If you’re looking for a little peace and tranquility in the midst of all that planning, why not give Morikami a look?

With romantic sites in the peaceful gardens, and options for both indoor and outdoor celebrations, Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens has become one of South Florida’s premier rental facilities for weddings and special events. We offer a variety of packages and can accommodate parties large and small. Not only are the gardens and terraces a perfect backdrop to any event, we also offer on-site, personalized catering from the Cornell Café.

For the bride or groom that would prefer the slightly cooler weather, we’re offering a special on any event in October 2013! When you book a wedding, ceremony, party or other event for October 2013 you’ll receive 45% off your facility rental fee! Visit our facility rental page for details.

Need a few more reasons to host your special day with us? Check out our Wedding Inspiration board on Pinterest , visit the wedding gallery on our website, or scroll down for a few images of the lovely celebrations we’ve hosted. They’re worth a thousand words and then some.

Happy Wedding Season!

wedding party lake

table on terrace terrace and favorswedding lake three shots couple in garden couple on bridge

Make It The Best Mother’s Day Yet!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we know you are looking for the perfect way to shower your mom with the appreciation she deserves. That’s why we’ve put together a very special Mother’s Day outing that will transport your mom from Delray to Japan with neither airfare nor passport required. In addition you could win FREE mimosas at the Cornell Cafe by following the instructions below. Scroll down for contest rules, or continue reading to see what you can expect this weekend!

Cornell Café:  A delicious Pan-Asian brunch overlooking the beautiful Morikami gardens. Enjoy a prix-fixe menu, as well as a passion fruit mimosa drink special (an additional $3.95). Reservations are being accepted between 10:30am – 11:45am only. Otherwise, seating is first come, first served.

Morikami Museum Store: Say thanks with a special item from the Museum Store, and enjoy a free gift with a purchase of $30 or more – this beautiful floating heart candle!

Roji-En: A serene walk through Roji-en encompassing six distinct gardens, a koi feeding area, Japan Through the Eyes of a Child (an interactive children’s exhibit) and our world-class bonsai display will be the perfect way to surround your mom with the beauty of nature.

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Kids’ Craft: Handmade gifts are always mom-approved, and the perfect gift for kids to make!  Visit our craft table in the lobby where our education department will be on hand to help kids make a special origami bookmark for mom on her special day. Write mom a special message in a one-of-a-kind creation.

Give the Gift of Membership: Join our Morikami family and give your mom the gift of membership! On Mother’s Day only, moms get 10% off new memberships or renewals and a free gift.

Don’t miss out on all that Morikami has to offer! Find more details on Mother’s Day happenings here.

Mother’s Day Contest

Raise a glass for mom! Leave us a comment below (you’ll need to leave us your name and email in the comment form) by Friday (5/10/13) at noon, and tell us why your mom is the best. The lucky winner will get a coupon for FREE mimosas at the Cornell Cafe on Mother’s Day! What a great way to toast your mom and show her how much you appreciate her.

Mimosa

Happy Golden Week!

Akin to our spring break, Golden Week, or Ōgon Shūkan, is one of the most popular travel weeks in Japan. This week consists of four public holidays that span from April 29th to May 5th, and both transportation providers as well as hotel accommodations sell out quickly for this time.  Golden Week is also the biggest week for tourist attractions throughout Japan, and many sites in Asia, Australia, Hawaii and the even the Western coast of the U.S.

These four holidays include:

 Shōwa Day (Shōwa no Hi) –  April 29th

Show Day commemorates the late Emperor Hirohito, and encourages public remembrance of the turbulent 63 years of his reign when Japan witnessed the rise of Fascism, World War II, the post-war occupation, and its rise as an industrial and economic power. On Miyuki-Dori street in Ginza (a district in Tokyo), people enjoy the carpet of tulip pedals that form a mural on the road on Showa Day.

Showa Day flower mural on  Miyuki-Dori street in Ginza, Tokyo

Showa Day flower mural on Miyuki-Dori street in Ginza, Tokyo

Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpō Kinenbi) – May 3rd

On this day Japan remembers the establishment of the Japanese Constitution in 1947, and reflects on the meaning of democracy in Japan. While, there are not any particular celebrations on this day, it is seen as a patriotic day for Japan.

Well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Japan's Emperor Akihito makes a public appearance on a balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Well-wishers wave Japanese flags as Japan’s Emperor Akihito makes a public appearance on a balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Greenery Day (Midori no Hi) – May 4th

Greenery Day celebrates nature and remembers the Emperor Showa’s love of all things green with tree planting and nature walks.

Families stroll a local park on Greenery Day.

Families stroll a local park on Greenery Day.

Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) – May 5th
Traditionally known as Boy’s Day, or Tango no Sekku, today Children’s Day celebrates all children’s distinct personalities – boys and girls – and wishes them happiness. On Children’s Day families fly Carp windsocks, or Koinobori, on a flag pole in front of their homes to represent each member of the family. This colorful display stems from the legend that a Carp that swims upstream will become a dragon,  symbolizing the strength and determination the family hopes their children will exemplify.  Today, Children’s Day is celebrated throughout Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam.

Carp windsocks, or Koinobori, fly outside the Morikami every year for Children's Day.

Carp windsocks, or Koinobori, fly outside the Morikami every year for Children’s Day.

Though the U.S. may not officially celebrate Golden Week, we hope you’ll take us up on our invitation to spend at least some of Golden Week here with us! Whether it’s on May 3rd at our first Sushi & Stroll of the Summer, May 4th for Greenery Day (our gardens are a shoo-in for the perfect Greenery Day excursion), or May 5th for Children’s Day to watch our own Koinobori fly, get a taste of Japan right here in South Florida.

Wendy, from our education department, shows off her Koinobori dress on Children's Day 2012

Wendy, from our education department, shows off her Koinobori dress on Children’s Day 2012

Bunny Origami

Since the Museum is closed this Sunday for Easter we thought it would be great to show you how to make an origami rabbit. But we couldn’t pick just one, so here are some of our favorite origami bunnies (and a carrot!) to brighten your day in lieu of being able to enjoy the gardens.

We’ll start with the simplest project – the carrot:

carrot origami

And here’s ours

carrot

The carrot should be simple enough for younger children (though they may need some help when it comes time to fold the stem). We suggest some orange printed paper.

Next there’s a fairly simple balloon-style bunny:

balloonrabbit-origami-club

 

baloon bunny

This one is great for kids a little older, and you can add some real spunk by using stick-on eyes (like we did) and giving your bunny a nose (ours is a push pin).

The next bunny is a little more involved, but still adorable:

 

bunnies

Lastly we made this mini-basket bunny, which is great for holding candy. We put some delicious Hello Kitty Strawberry Marshmallows inside (they’re not in the online Museum Store just yet, but these treats should tide you over till then). This bunny takes more time – and patience – but the video below will guide you to an Easter treat-ready finished product.

 

bunny basket

We hope you all have a great weekend, and we’ll see you on Tuesday!

P.S. If you’d like to see some other wonderful origami animals, and learn about some of the techniques used to make them, head over to our website and check out our online Florigami exhibit. And make sure to join us for our annual Origami Family Fun Day, coming up Saturday, May 18!

Sign of Spring: Harutsugegusa

Sign of Spring: Harutsugegusa

The Morikami Museum’s annual spring festival “Hatsume” has become well known in Florida. This year the two day celebration will be March 19th and 20th. There is no Hatsume festival in Japan; however, if you know the meaning of the word, you would certainly appreciate and understand the naming of this celebration. Some readers who studied Japanese will figure out that “Hatsume” is the spring festival. The character of “hatsu” means the first or new, and “me” means a bud. Certainly, Floridians are enjoying soft warm spring weather. 

Gorgeous Japanese cherry blossoms are a sign of spring in Washington D.C. The National Cherry Blossom Festival will be March 26-April 10 this year.

Cherry blossoms in Japan, sakura, are beautiful in April, but there is an equally beautiful blossom enjoyed by Japanese and visiting foreigners at the end of February and early March before sakura bloom. These blossoms (pictured below) are a sign of spring in Japan. 

Guess the name of this tree!

Can you guess the name of this tree pictured? 

*Japanese call the blossom “harutsugegusa.” These three Japanese characters are spring, tell and plant, which translates as “sign of spring.” However, this is not a commonly known name.

*The plant is known by a number of different names in English. One of them is Japanese apricot.

*The tree originated in South China.

If you find out the name of tree, send your answer quick. The first to respond will receive  a pair of tickets to Hatsume Fair!