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Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries Celebrate Japanese Arts and Culture

Special Events and Exhibitions Commemorate the 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival from March 20 to April 13

MEDIA ONLY: Allison Peck, 202.633.0447;
Megan Krefting 202-633-0271; kreftingm@si.edu
Press Asia

ONLINE: asia.si.edu/press

February 18, 2014

The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, will feature six Japanese art exhibitions and host an exciting array of events exploring Japanese arts and culture in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.’s popular springtime celebration. All programs are free of charge and open to the public. Visit asia.si.edu/cherryblossom for the complete schedule of programs.

featured exhibitions

Chigusa and the Art of Tea
February 22–July 27, 2014
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 1
more info | press release | media images

The power of seeing, the power of naming: Japanese collectors in the sixteenth century used the compact tea room as the setting for interacting with objects. Looking closely at form and surface, they singled out exceptional works and gave them personal names out of respect. These named objects developed a reputation and a history as they were displayed and used in tea gatherings. Chigusa and the Art of Tea shows how one Chinese storage jar was transformed into a vessel worthy of display, adornment, and contemplation in Japan. Diaries of tea events reveal what the writers admired about Chigusa. Other cherished objects—Chinese calligraphy, Chinese and Korean tea bowls, Japanese stoneware containers and wooden vessels—used during this formative era of Japanese tea culture are also on view.

Kiyochika: Master of the Night
March 29–July 27, 2014
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 1
more info | media images
When Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) returned to his birthplace, which he had known as Edo, in 1874, he found a city transformed. Renamed Tokyo (“Eastern Capital”), it was filled with railroads, steamships, gaslights, telegraph lines, and large brick buildings—never-before-seen entities that were now ingrained in the cityscape. Self-trained as an artist, Kiyochika set out to record his views of Tokyo in a series of 100 prints. An 1881 fire engulfed the city and ended the project, but the 93 works he had completed were unlike anything previously produced by a Japanese artist. Created primarily at dawn, dusk, and night, the prints depict subjects veiled in sharply angled light, shadows, and darkness. In the exhibition, approximately half of the prints from the series are organized in themes that represent the artist’s unique visions.

also on view

Japanese Screens: Landscapes and Waterscapes
February 22–August 24, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art, Gallery 5
Surrounded by seas, the Japanese islands are permeated by bays, rivers, and lakes. Water appears in nearly every landscape, a reminder of its dominance in the natural and human worlds. A highlight of the works on view in this installation is Maruyama Okyo’s Geese Flying over a Beach, a masterpiece of ink painting and a favorite of museum founder Charles Lang Freer.

Bountiful Waters: Aquatic Life in Japanese Art
March 8–September 14, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art, Galleries 6 and 7
The waters that surround the islands of Japan and flow from its mountain ranges to form rivers and lakes host plants and animals that have sustained human life since prehistoric times. This exhibition features a selection of prints, paintings, illustrated books, and ceramics that depict Japanese appreciation for the beauty and variety of fish and other species. A highlight is the public debut of the “Large Fish” series—twenty woodblock prints by Hiroshige (1797–1858) gifted to the Freer by John Fuegi and Jo Francis.

Chinese Ceramics for Tea in Japan
March 8–September 14, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art, Gallery 6a
Acquired by Charles Lang Freer, these Chinese bowls, small jars, and other ceramics were used as tea utensils in sixteenth-century Japan as part of chanoyu,or the “art of tea.” Highlighting Chinese tea objects with long histories of use and admiration in Japan, Chinese Ceramics for Tea in Japan complements the Sackler’s exhibition Chigusa and the Art of Tea, on view February 22–July 27, 2014.

Religious Art of Japan
March 22–September 21, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art, Gallery 8
This exhibition focuses on paintings depicting the Historical Buddha Shakyamuni; his disciples, or arhats; and his attendant bodhisattvas, Fugen (Samantabhadra) and Monju (Manjushri).


demonstrations and conversations
A Bowl of Tea
Sundays, March 23, April 6, 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 1
Experience a Japanese tea presentation led by members of the Omotesenke school. Gain insights into the culture that surrounded the tea jar named Chigusa. Learn how bowls and other utensils are used for serving tea, and chat with the presenters about their tea practice. Tea provided by DōMatcha and Harney & Sons.

Chigusa and the Art of Tea
Thursdays, April 3 and 10, 12 and 2 pm
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 1
Curator Louise Allison Cort presents highlights of the exhibition about the tea jar named Chigusa.

trunk show
Vintage Japanese Garments
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Shop, Sublevel 1
Friday, April 4, 12pm–5 pm; Saturday, April 5, 10 am–5 pm; Sunday, April 6, 10 am–5 pm
Presented by Kyoto Kimono, this shopping event includes vintage kimono, haori jackets, obi, décor items, and fashion accessories created from vintage Japanese textiles. Kyoto Kimono owner Nancy McDonough demonstrates how to wear and care for kimono. Traditional Japanese crafts and teas are also featured.

family programs

Illuminated Nights
Saturdays, March 29, April 5 and 12; Sundays, March 30, April 6 and 13; 2 pm
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Sublevel 2
Explore how gaslights and electricity transformed the night in the 19th century. Examine paintings and woodblock prints of Whistler’s London and Kiyochika’s Tokyo, and create nightscapes of favorite outdoor evening activities.

ImaginAsia is for children 8–14 and their adult companions. Programs are in the classroom on Sackler sublevel 2 from 2–3:30 pm unless otherwise noted. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more about our family programs.

performances | films

Visit the F|S website for admission information.

Mayuko Kamio, violin; Katherine Chi, piano
Thursday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium
The brilliant young Japanese violinist Mayuko Kamio, a recent gold medalist at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, performs pieces by Brahms, Ravel, Hosokawa, and Ikebe. Presented in conjunction with Kiyochika: Master of the Night. Free tickets required.

Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance Troupe
Friday, April 11, 12 pm
Freer Gallery of Art, north entrance
Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance. Nearly 30 drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University in Tokyo treat National Cherry Blossom Festival visitors to a special performance on the National Mall. The group, which is led and choreographed by Kabuki dance master Isaburoh Hanayagi, is one of the top-ranking Taiko groups in Japan and comes out of the country’s most prestigious performing arts school.

National Cherry Blossom Film Festival
Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium
Friday–Sunday, April 11–13
Visit asia.si.edu/events for information on special film events on the weekend of April 11–13.


Visit the F|S website for tour information and scheduling.

Arts of Japan, Sackler
Explore the spring exhibitions Chigusa and the Art of Tea and Kiyochika: Master of the Night. Chigusa shows how Japanese tea connoisseurs transformed a Chinese storage jar into a vessel worthy of display, adornment, and contemplation. Kiyochika’s masterful nocturnal scenes focus attention on the well-known art form of printmaking.

Arts of Japan, Freer
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 SW, and the adjacent Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue SW, 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 asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, call (202) 633-1000.

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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.