New Year’s Series Part 3 – Special Episode of Vlogs with Veljko: Nengajo

UPDATE 1/10/14: Due to extreme flooding Oshogatsu has been postponed until Sunday, January 19, 2014. If you have already purchased tickets you will receive an email with details about your purchase. Otherwise, you may still purchase tickets online until Friday, January 17th at noon. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you all there next Sunday!

 

Our New Year’s series is back with a special episode of Vlogs with Veljko. This week we’ll let our Curator of Collections do the talking about one Japanese New Year’s tradition that you can get in on yourself: Nengajo!

Stop by Morikami to make your own New Year’s card now through December 31st (it’s FREE with paid museum admission!) For now, take a look at some of Veljko’s favorite cards, and get some history (or maybe a little inspiration for your own card).

You can also join us for a day chock full of Japanese New Year’s traditions – Oshogatsu! Get details and tickets on the event site. And don’t forget to check back next week for our next New Year’s topic! See you then 🙂

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Introducing the Year of the Horse!

UPDATE 1/10/14: Due to extreme flooding Oshogatsu has been postponed until Sunday, January 19, 2014. If you have already purchased tickets you will receive an email with details about your purchase. Otherwise, you may still purchase tickets online until Friday, January 17th at noon. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you all there next Sunday!

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It’s that time of year, fans, where we gather together with family and friends, reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the one to come. The holiday season can be a blur of activity, but it all culminates in one of our favorite events – Oshogatsu: A New Year’s Celebration!

The New Year is Japan’s most important and celebrated holiday, and many traditions and activities are included in the festivities. To get you prepared for our upcoming New Year’s festival, we’ll be explaining one or two of these traditions each Friday until January 12th. Check back each week to learn more about what makes Oshogatsu so special, and how we’ll interpret these traditions at the festival.

The Zodiac

Every year is named after one of the zodiac animals, and this year we celebrate the Year of the Horse for those born in 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, and 2014.  The zodiac was introduced to Japan from China and there are several tales of how the animals were selected and in what order. One of the most popular stories finds Buddha calling all the animals of the world to come to him on New Year’s Day. As a reward, he promises each one a gift. Only 12 animals came and each one was given the honor of having a year named for them. Their arrival time marks their esteemed position in the twelve-year cycle, with the rat always first and the boar forever last.

The Year of the Horse

People born in the same zodiac year are thought to share some of the same characteristics. Those born in the year of the horse are said to be skillful in paying compliments and in handling money and financial matters. They are also supposed to be talkative, quick thinkers, wise and talented. Horse people may also anger easily and be impatient.

For the upcoming year of the horse, we’d like to introduce you to our Oshogatsu mascot – Uma! We made an origami version of Uma to show her off to you, so follow us on Vine to check it out, or scroll down to see how to make an Uma of your own.

See you back here Friday, 12/20 when we’ll talk about Mochitsuki  – the rice pounding ceremony!

horse origami

Arts & Crafts Takes on a Whole New Meaning in Our Newest Exhibit

Fall is a busy time at Morikami. From gearing up for Lantern Fest to preparing for the new season of educational programs there are lots of changes happening during the “cooler” months coming up. One of those changes is happening as we speak – our galleries are being transformed from a haven for some awe-inspiring Kokeshi dolls, into a space for outrageous fashion and amazing works of Kōgei  art.

You probably already know a little about our upcoming Japanese Street Fashion exhibit, but you may be unfamiliar with Kōgei , as it is sometimes difficult to explain exactly what it is to our non-Japanese  followers. Never fear – we’re here to help.

What is Kōgei ?

Kōgei  is an art that couples form and function, bringing beauty to everyday objects. As one Japan Times article explains it “Kōgei has often been translated into English as ‘crafts,’ and such works don’t fit exactly into the category of fine arts in the West. Against this backdrop, they have been perceived as occupying a lower station than “art.”But in Japan they form a class of their own, as an applied art, with some masters honored by the government as living national treasures. Such handicrafts include ceramics, fine “urushi” lacquer designs, silk fabrics and more.”

In short Kōgei  artists are craftsmen of the highest level who create works of art that also happen to be very common objects such as tea bowls or lacquer ware.

What will the exhibit be like?

This exhibit, Contemporary Kōgei Styles in Japan,  brings together approximately 90 Kōgei-style artworks including ceramics, textiles, dolls, and works of metal, lacquer, wood, bamboo, and glass created by over 40 of Japan’s most influential and leading Kōgei artists of international renown. The exhibit is organized by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, Ministry of  Foreign Affairs, Consulate General of Japan in Miami and Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens with special collaboration from the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, All Nippon Airways Co., LTD., and Stella M. Holmes. We’re also proud to announce that after careful consideration, the Japanese government chose us as the only museum in the country to host this exhibit, so you won’t get to see these pieces anywhere else in the U.S.

These works are by very influential artists including some living national treasures. The exhibit runs from October 8, 2013 through February 18, 2014 and some of the objects will be rotated out for new ones half way through, so you’ll have something new to see each time you visit us.  The video below gives a wonderful overview of the art form and exhibit from the perspective of some of the featured artists as well as some of the exhibit’s organizers.

What’s a Living National Treasure?

Based on Japan’s 1950 Law for Protection of Cultural Properties, some individuals, small groups and preservation groups can be designated Living National Treasures. This mark of distinction means the individual or group has reached mastery in a certain area including drama, music, art, and other intangible cultural artifacts of high value in terms of Japanese history or art.  Today there are over 100 men and women on the list of Living National Treasures in the category of crafts. Though there is no real equivalent to this distinction in our culture, you might compare it to MacArthur Genius Grant recipients or Nobel Prize winners, though these designees may be recognized in a diverse range of fields and Japan’s Living National Treasures are recognized for their skill and commitment in keeping traditional Japanese cultural aspects alive and thriving.

Will I be able to hear from any of the artists?

We’re glad you asked – yes!  Not only will you be able to view work from some of these Living National Treasures, you’ll also be able to hear from one, as well as another featured artist. We’ll be hosting a lecture with speakers Murose Kazumi and Men’ya Shōho on October 9, 2013. You’ll find details and ticket information here.

We hope you’ll join us for this exciting opportunity to see and hear from some of Japan’s top Kōgei artists!

Check-In to Check Us Out

We all know that Morikami Membership has its benefits, but what if we told you that you could get those benefits at 25% off for the entire month of August?  You read that right – from August 1 -31, 2013 we’re offering a 25% discount on Dual and Netsuke level memberships just for checking in to Morikami on Facebook or Yelp.

It’s pretty simple: visit Morikami this August, bring your smart phone and log onto the Facebook or Yelp app. Then, check in and show your confirmation to the friendly staff at the membership desk. Soon you’ll be breezing through festival lines (because you get FREE admission to Hatsume, Oshogatsu and Sushi & Stroll), and enjoying discounts in the Cornell Café and the Museum Store.

To sum it up, why become a member?

The Fine Print:

In-person ONLY, no online orders. You must show your check-in page at the membership desk to receive discount. This deal cannot be combined with any other offers. Discount applies to Dual and Netsuke membership levels (new or renewal) ONLY. Please note that the Yelp and Facebook apps are the easiest way to check-in. If you are checking in with a tablet you MUST have the yelp or facebook app, as the browser does not give the option to check-in.

*Members who join on or before Lantern Festival 2013 (coming up Saturday, October 19) will enjoy free admission to the festival. Beginning in 2014, free Lantern Festival admission will no longer be included in Morikami’s membership package, but members will be able to take advantage of significantly discounted Lantern Festival admission and additional members-only festival benefits.

yelp deal_web explanation

Morikami Hems In Tokyo Fashion Exhibit This Fall

Harajuku, an area between Shinjuku and Shibuya in Tokyo, has risen to the highest ranks of Japanese fashion. In the late 50s and early 60s the neighborhood was transformed from U.S. soldiers’ housing into a well-spring of youth culture (similar to the likes of Haight Ashbury in 1960’s San Francisco) that solidified into what many call the Harajuku-zoku, or the Harajuku tribe. The neighborhood was overtaken by photographers, models, artists, fashion designers and local youth, and has become the ultimate youth stomping ground.

Some of the most visible and popular movements to come out of Harajuku are Japan’s many street fashions. From Decora to Rock-a-billy, and everything in between, this style-hub has a place for every expression of style.

If you were one of the many Morikami fans to participate in our Hatsume 2013 Costume or Fashion Show Contests, you might have already seen our Street Fashion Facebook Album, but it’s a great visual introduction to some of these popular Japanese street styles:

Decora is characterized by an abundance of accessories.

Decora is characterized by an abundance of accessories on casual clothing. Color is also important, and you’ll see neons as well as pastels.

Lolita style is remniscent of Victorian Dolls, and uses this particular dress sihlouette for a number of "Loli" styles like Sweet Loli, Punk Loli, and Gothic Loli.

Lolita style is reminiscent of Victorian Dolls, and uses this particular dress silhouette for a number of “Loli” styles like Sweet Loli, Punk Loli, and Gothic Loli.

Visual Kei is based on the Glam Rock movement, and employs elements of androgyny.

Visual Kei is based on the Glam Rock movement, and employs elements of androgyny for both males and females.

Kodona is based on the same era as Lolita style except that it focuses on boys' wear. Kodona can be understood as boy style and is worn by both males and females.

Kodona is based on the same era as Lolita style except that it focuses on boys’ wear. Kodona can be understood as boy style and is worn by both males and females.

We’re excited to share that this autumn we’ll be showcasing these expressive styles in a photography exhibit titled “Contemporary Japanese Street Fashion.” If you’ve had the pleasure of snapping shots of the rock-a-billy clubs in Yoyogi Park, or Harajuku girls in Tokyo, we’re asking for submissions to feature in the exhibit. The deadline to submit photos is July 15th, and we’ll be choosing finalists shortly thereafter. Check our website for full submission details.

If you’re not photographically-inclined, but still want to enjoy the outrageous and beautiful fashions of Harajuku, you might be interested in attending the lecture by Professor Yuniya Kawamura of the Fashion Institute of Technology, in NYC. Professor Kawamura will join us Friday, November 1, at 7:15pm for a 45-minute talk on the art of Japanese street fashion, its many subcultures, and its influence in Japanese society and in the West.

Stay tuned for more details on the exhibit and lecture as the fall draws near!

Setsubun: The End of Winter

by: Reiko Nishioka, Director of Education

A demon is the symbol of an evil spirit and we throw beans (soybeans) to drive away the evil spirit. Men who were born in a year with the same sign as the zodiac animal for the current year serve as bean-throwers.

On February 3rd or 4th (depending on the year), the Japanese celebrate setsubun, the end of winter, with a ritual known in English as the “Bean-Throwing Ceremony.” “Bean-Throwing Ceremony” sounds comical and childish, however, the setsubun ritual has a long history. The first recorded setsubun ritual was in A.D. 706, more than a thousand years later year, Hokusai (Ukiyo-e artist 1760-1849) illustrated a man throwing beans at a demon.

What does setsubun mean?  (setsu) and (bun) means division and setsubun means “division of seasons.” Literally, setsubun occurs four times a year, but only one, the end of winter, is traditionally celebrated.


Why is February 3rd or 4th considered the end of winter?
 Until December 2, 1873 the Japanese used the old calendar system. On the next day all Japanese switched to the Gregorian calendar. You cannot imagine the confusion. The date of setsubun is still determined by using the old calendar.

What is the relationship between setsubun and a demon? My grandmother frequently said that we often get colds between the seasons. In olden days, the Japanese believed that demonic spirits would sneak into you or your house.

Why we throw beans at a demon?  A demon is the symbol of an evil spirit and we throw beans (soybeans) to drive away the evil spirit. I am sure that before beans an arrow was used for the ceremony. Likewise, a branch with a fish head is also placed at the front entrance to stop evil an evil spirit from coming in the house. In 1447, the record says that people scattered beans, shouting, “In with fortune! Out with demons!”  We still say the same words when we throw beans. Afterwards we eat the same number of beans as your age plus one bean to receive a healthy and happy year. For eating purpose, roasted soybeans are used.

Who gets to play the part of the demon?  When I was little, my father put on a Japanese red devil mask and my sister and I threw beans at him and shouted “In with fortune! Out with demons!”  Setsubun was the only day I could throw beans at my father. Temples and shrines in Japan have a setsubun ritual event. Men who were born in a year with the same sign as the zodiac animal for the current year serve as bean-throwers. In this event, people who gather at temple/shrines are blessed by throwing beans but not chased! 

I hope readers now have an idea of the setsubun ritual, bean-throwing ceremony.