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Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate the Arts of Japan

Special Events Commemorate the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival

Media only: Allison Peck, 202.633.0447
Megan Krefting 202-633-0271; kreftingm@si.edu
Press Asia
Online: www.asia.si.edu/press, @FreerSackler, Facebook.com/FreerSackler

March 4, 2013

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, will host an exciting array of events exploring Japanese art, crafts, film and design, in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.’s popular springtime celebration.

Highlights include a weekend-long celebration of Japanese contributions in art and design on April 5–7, opening with the creation of an interactive Japanese lantern installation by Virginia Tech students and architect and assistant professor Aki Ishida. Explore woodblock-printed illustrated books (ehon) on the opening day of the exhibition “Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books,” bind your own Japanese-style book in an ImaginAsia family program, browse vintage kimonos for sale, and take curator-led tours of the Japanese artwork on view. New this year, the museum hosts the Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance Troupe on Friday, April 12 for a special noontime performance on the National Mall. Also a Festival favorite, the Freer and Sackler galleries present the eleventh annual Anime Marathon on April 13–14, featuring hands-on workshops with anime artists and screenings of Shinichiro Watanabe’s landmark animated television series, “Samurai Champloo.”

All programs are free of charge and open to the public. Visit asia.si.edu/events for the complete schedule of programs.

Special Event

Celebration of Japanese Arts and Design
April 5–7
Freer and Sackler
With the city in bloom for the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20–April 14), the Freer and Sackler Galleries host a weekend celebrating Japanese arts and design. Discover how Edo-period artists and writers created woodblock-printed designs for mass circulation and entertainment in Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books (April 6–August 11, 2013). Help create an audiovisual Japanese lantern installation with students from Virginia Tech along with architect and assistant professor, Aki Ishida. Other weekend events include curator-led tours, Japanese bookbinding activities, and a vintage Japanese garments trunk show by Kyoto Kimono. Check asia.si.edu/events for an updated schedule, to include lectures and after-hours events.


Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books
April 6–August 11
Ehon, the Japanese term for woodblock-printed illustrated books, were key sources of knowledge and entertainment during the Edo period (1615–1868). Artists and writers created many designs for these books, and the compact, paper-bound volumes circulated widely. In a striking change from the past, when books were primarily reserved for the elite, the beautiful, intriguing, and humorous subjects in ehon brought reading to the masses. Highlights from the Gerhard Pulverer Collection now in the Freer Gallery of Art, including well-known pieces such as Utamoro’s exquisite Shell book and Hokusai’s best-selling Manga, are shown together for the first time since the museum purchased the collection in 2007.


Arts of Japan: Edo Aviary and Poetic License
Through August 4
Continuing a celebration of important Freer holdings in Edo-period art, complementary but distinct installations examine two themes of these Japanese works. Edo Aviary (gallery 6) traces how depictions of birds, long part of the Japanese visual repertoire, were influenced by natural history painting in the Edo period (1615–1868). Great attention was given to physical accuracy, but the tendency to lend birds anthropomorphic qualities also came to the fore. Poetic License: Making Old Worlds New (gallery 7) shows how the interpretation of classical Japanese and Chinese literary traditions, previously the domain of an educated aristocracy, was absorbed into the merchant and artisan classes during the Edo period, producing energetic reconsiderations of time-honored themes.

ImaginAsia Family Program

Japanese Book Binding
Saturday, April 6; Sunday, April 7, 2 pm
Sackler, sublevel 2
After learning about illustrated books in the Pulverer collection, create your own Japanese book based on folios featuring cherry blossoms and scenes and activities related to springtime. Choose elegant handmade papers for your cover and tanzaku slips for your title, and then use a traditional Japanese sewing technique to bind them.

ImaginAsia Family Program

Anime Artists Workshop
Saturday, April 13; Sunday, April 14, 1 and 3 pm
Sackler, sublevel 2
Use a manga-style book based on illustrated books in the Pulverer collection to explore the exhibition of those works. Then return to the classroom to receive instruction in anime and manga drawing from anime artists, perfect your work, and share it with fellow artists.

Film and Performance

Wednesday, April 3, 7 pm
Freer, Meyer Auditorium
A young woman suffering from mysterious physical ailments is horrified to discover she’s descended from generations of vampires. Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani and Chicago-based saxophonist Edward Wilkerson, Jr., provide live accompaniment. (Dir.: Naoki Yoshimoto, Japan, 2009, 56 min., Japanese with English subtitles, DVD)


Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance Troupe
Friday, April 12, 12 pm
Freer, north entrance (Rain: Sackler, International Gallery)
Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance as nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University take the stage for a special performance on the National Mall. The group is led and choreographed by Kabuki dance master Isaburoh Hanayagi, who began his career at the age of three under the tutelage of his father, Yoshigosaburoh Hanayagi.

Film Series

National Cherry Blossom Festival Anime Marathon
Presented in conjunction with the Sackler exhibition Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books with the assistance of Otakorp, Inc., and the DC Anime Club.

Samurai Champloo
Saturday, April 13; Sunday, April 14, 11 am
Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium
This year’s marathon presents all 26 episodes of Shinichiro Watanabe’s landmark animated television series Samurai Champloo. This smart, hip series is the story of three eccentric outcasts traveling across Edo-era Japan in search of “the samurai who smells of sunflowers.” The program gleefully incorporates playful anachronisms, such as hip hop music and graffiti, while touching on actual elements of the era, such as ukiyo-e painting, historical figures, and Japan’s interactions with the Dutch East India Company. Selected episodes are introduced by experts, and tours of Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books and the Freer’s Japanese collection are offered throughout the weekend. Visit this webpage for a detailed schedule.


Arts of Japan
March 21–April 14
Most days, 2:15 pm
Travel to Japan by examining the Freer Gallery's unparalleled collection of Japanese screens, paintings, lacquerware, prints, ceramics, and sculpture. Learn about the works' importance in Japanese culture, past and present.

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day (closed Dec. 25), and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other public events, visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

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the freer and sackler galleries

Exhibition Information

Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books
April 6–August 11
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Arts of Japan: Edo Aviary and Poetic License
Through August 4
Freer Gallery of Art

Contact us

Tel: 202.633.0271
Fax: 202.633.0046

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Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
PO Box 37012, MRC 707
Washington, DC 20013-7012

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.