Yamatane Museum of Art’s Special Exhibition room (from Hayami Gyoshū exhibition). Photography by Norio Koike.

Enjoy artworks in eternal bloom
—Yamatane Museum of Art “Sakura, Sakura, Sakura 2020”

<The museum will be temporarily closed starting April 4 (Sat.) until further notice, taking preventive measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Look for updates in the museum webpage, SNS, and via the call center.>

As the waters warm up and new lives spring forth, excitement heightens among the Japanese people as their land welcomes the blooming of sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms), the symbolic flower of the country.

In Japan, wild species of cherry blossom trees have grown in the mountains and fields since long ago. They became the objects of appreciation mainly among aristocrats and samurai class in the middle ages and early modern period. Then, the custom of hanami flower viewing became widely embraced by the common folk in the Edo period (1603-1867), and numerous garden varieties were developed. The allure of its blooms and the transient beauty of falling petals have mesmerized people for ages, becoming a theme of numerous poems and design motifs as a flower deeply associated with the Japanese aesthetics and creativity.

Okumura Togyū, Cherry Blossoms at Daigo-ji Temple, Color on Paper, 1972, Yamatane Museum of Art

Also an inspiration for a variety of expressions in paintings, sakura flowers are in full bloom at the special exhibition “Sakura, Sakura, Sakura 2020―Flower Viewing at the Museum!―”currently held at the Yamatane Museum of Art. A popular exhibition held regularly in spring, the event entertains visitors with around 50 unique artworks from the museum’s collection, including pieces by pre-modern and modern-era artists such as Yokoyama Taikan and Hayami Gyoshū.

Kobayashi Kokei, Cherry Blossoms, Color on Silk, c. 1933, Yamatane Museum of Art

Many of the works feature well-known sakura viewing spots in Japan; Okumura Togyū’s Spring in Yoshino captures the beautiful flowers seen at the renowned viewing spot in Nara prefecture, while Hashimoto Meiji’s Cherry Tree in Morning Sun (photo below, at bottom) is based on the famed Miharu Takizakura tree in Fukushima, named after curved branches that resemble waterfalls (taki) of sakura flowers. It is as if a stroll around the exhibition takes visitors through a tour of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom views. For an added treat, enjoy the sakura-inspired wagashi Japanese sweets at the museum’s Cafe Tsubaki, or browse the museum shop for original goods to take some cherry blossom memories home.

Hishida Shunsō, Women Viewing Cherry Blossoms, Color on Silk, 1894, Yamatane Museum of Art

Hashimoto Meiji, Cherry Tree in Morning Sun, Color on Paper, 1970, Yamatane Museum of Art

After a mild winter, the cherry blossoms this year are rushing to bloom. While the sakura season might come and go faster than usual, there is no need to feel hurried ―the cherry blossoms depicted in the artworks will forever be in full bloom, inviting visitors for a relaxing walk among their timeless beauty.

Special Exhibition: Sakura, Sakura, Sakura 2020 ―Flower Viewing at the Museum!―
Date: Ongoing till May 10 (Sun.), 2020
Hours: 10 AM-5 PM (Last admission 4:30 PM)
Venue: Yamatane Museum of Art (3-12-36, Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo)
Closed: May 7 and all Mondays except for May 4 (open for the Golden Week holidays, May 4-6)
Organized by: Yamatane Museum of Art and Asahi Shimbun
Inquiries: 050-5541-8600 (Call Center hours: 8 AM-10 PM)


2021 Spring / Summer

Inside Japan’s West