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detail from S2003.8.

Japan Spring

Japan Spring celebrates the first time that a city outside Japan is hosting three concurrent exhibitions of masterworks by distinguished Edo-period artists. In honor of Japan Spring and the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20–April 27), the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the National Gallery of Art present an array of public programs for all ages, including concerts, films, performances, lectures, tours, gallery talks, and more. All programs are free of charge and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis at both locations.

Follow all Japan Spring events at both institutions on Twitter using hashtag #JapanSpringDC.


Masters of Mercy
March 10–July 8
Hokusai: 36 Views of Mt Fuji
March 24–June 17
Colorful Realm
March 30–April 29


Opening Celebration

Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m. –5 p.m.

Celebrate the arrival of Japan Spring at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in the Sackler Pavilion. Enjoy Edo-period music and cherry blossom flower arrangements. Bento boxes and tea are available for purchase from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A Hokusai-inspired family activity and a demonstration of the dramatic art of Kabuki begin at 2:00 p.m. Japanese cuisine is provided by Kushi. More info.


The Art of Itō Jakuchū

Friday, March 30, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium

Illustrated lectures by noted scholars and conservators of Japanese art on the occasion of the exhibition Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800)," co-organized by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. More info.


Two Artists, Two Series, One Modern Society

March 30–June 17 (except Wednesdays and federal holidays)
Daily at noon and 2:00 p.m.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples

June 17–July 8
Daily at noon and 2:00 p.m.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Few artists better captured the energy and turmoil present in 19th-century Japanese society than did Katsushika Hokusai and Kano Kazunobu, both residents of the great metropolis of Edo (now Tokyo). Explore in two concurrent exhibitions—"Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji" and "Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples"—how these near-contemporaries observed the clash and complementarity of tradition and radical change in a culture thrust into modernity. More info.


The Art of Kabuki: Bando Kotoji

Saturday, March 24, 2:00 p.m.
Meyer Auditorium

Traditional dance master Bando Kotoji demonstrates scenes from famous Kabuki plays, discussing the costumes, makeup, postures, and movements with live music for shamisen, chanter, and percussion. Select audience members can receive onstage instruction. Organized by the Japan Society, with funding from the Japan Foundation. More info.


Freer|Sackler Tenth Annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Anime Marathon: 100% Miyazaki!

Sunday, April 15
Meyer Auditorium

This year's marathon, cosponsored by Otakorp, Inc., is part of Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli, presented in celebration of the centennial of the National Cherry Blossom Festival with the AFI Silver Theatre, the Freer and Sackler, the National Gallery of Art, and the Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan. (Also see the National Gallery of Art's family-friendly programs). More info.

Screenings include:

11:00 a.m.
A young boy meets Ponyo—part fish, part human—who escaped from an evil scientist's underwater lair. Ponyo tries to use magic to become human, but larger forces threaten to upset the balance of nature. (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008, 101 mins., English)

Porco Rosso
1:30 p.m.
A swashbuckling aviator—who happens to be a pig—flies his bright red plane to battle pirates and other evildoers in this eccentric adventure, set in 1920s Italy and filled with aerial derring-do. (Hayao Miyazaki, 1992, 94 mins., English)

Princess Mononoke
4:00 p.m.
Humans, gods, and demons battle over the fate of an unspoiled forest in this epic fable on ecology and spirituality, which set new benchmarks for anime and catapulted Miyazaki to international renown. (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997, 134 mins., Japanese with English subtitles)

Spirited Away
7:00 p.m.
A young girl stumbles into a mysterious spirit world populated by creatures from the depths of Japanese mythology. This Oscar winner remains the highest-grossing film in Japan's history. (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001, 125 mins., Japanese with English subtitles)

Sunday, April 22, 4:30 p.m.
National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium
A delicate triangular love story set in historic Asuka, Naomi Kawase's Hanezu (2011) underscores the relationship between humans and their habitat, with meditative views of the natural world.


Freer Medal Award Ceremony

Thursday, April 12, 6 pm
Freer, Meyer Auditorium

John Rosenfield, professor emeritus of East Asian art at Harvard University, has been selected to receive the Freer Medal in recognition of his seminal contributions to his field. Professor Rosenfield, the thirteenth recipient of the medal, is a distinguished scholar of Japanese art and related fields, whose research has encompassed a wide range of time periods and media. As a curator, he has trained many of the scholars who are active in the field today. Free and open to the public, the award ceremony includes a lecture by Professor Rosenfield.


Visual Culture and Social Upheaval: Imaging Change in Late Edo Period Japan

Saturday, May 5, 2 pm
Freer, Meyer Auditorium

Explore the intersection of pop culture and spiritual concerns in late Edo society with leading scholars in the field. In turn, discover the reasons behind the acclaim for Kano Kazunobu’s phantasmagoric paintings of Buddha’s legendary disciples and Katsushika Hokusai’s famous print series of Mount Fuji. Learn how the popularity of these iconic images endures in contemporary Japan. The panel includes James C. Dobbins, Fairchild professor of religion at Oberlin College; Patricia Graham, independent art historian; Constantine N. Vaporis, professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Freer|Sackler curators James Ulak and Ann Yonemura.

Contemporary Voices

Woodblock Printmaking, Then and Now

Saturday, May 19 & Sunday, May 20
Sackler Sublevel 2

Contemporary artist Keiji Shinohara, joined by Freer|Sackler curator Ann Yonemura, demonstrates Japanese woodblock printmaking and discusses the surprises that come with each print he creates. Shinohara shares how he mastered his craft and developed a personal style that expresses the character of his materials and the unique stories behind each print. In addition, he reveals how he has been inspired by Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, now on view in the Sackler.

Family-friendly Programs

Tatebanko: Japanese Paper Dioramas

Saturdays, March 24 and 31, 2:00 p.m.
Sundays, March 25 and April 1, 2:00 p.m.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 2
Ages 8–14

Use an activity guide to explore the exhibition "36 Views of Mount Fuji." In the classroom, create a layered miniature diorama (tatebanko) using images of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai's landscape prints to explore his use of perspective. More info.

Anime Artists Encounter Arhats

Saturday, April 14, 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 15, 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 2
Ages 8–14
Use a manga-style activity book to explore the exhibition "Masters of Mercy: Buddha's Amazing Disciples." Then return to the classroom for instruction in anime and manga drawing from an anime artist. More info.

Before Dawn

Saturdays, April 21 and 28, 2:00 p.m.
Sundays, April 22 and 29, 2:00 p.m.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 2
Ages 8–14

Create your own printing block using Styrofoam. Then use two traditional Japanese blue pigments and Prussian blue, which was introduced in the Edo period (1615–1868), to print landscapes that convey the soft light of early dawn, just as Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai did in his series 36 Views of Mount Fuji.

Gallery Shops

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery shop offers a variety of Japanese-inspired products, including vintage kimonos, Haori jackets, bags, accessories, books, and ceramics, as well as an assortment of items highlighting the exhibition "Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji." The shop also features products inspired by the cherry blossoms found in the museum's collection, which highlight the cultural history behind the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. Products include silk scarves, a traditional cherry blossom design Yukata and Haori jacket, delicate hand-made glass ornaments, cherry blossom jewelry sets, and one-of-a-kind bags, scarves, and ties created using pieces of vintage Japanese kimonos.


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As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.