Insight Guides Experience Tokyo by Insight Guides

Insight Guides Experience Tokyo by Insight Guides

Author:Insight Guides
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Travel, Japan
Publisher: Apa Publications
Published: 2017-11-08T05:00:00+00:00

Gaze at stunning prints of geisha and Mount Fuji at the Ota ukiyo-e museum

Public domain

No one image has done as much to represent Japan worldwide as ukiyo-e print artist Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa. The piece, with its towering wave threatening to engulf puny boatmen, Mount Fuji in the background, launched a thousand Western imitators, admen and graffiti artists. It’s part of Hokusai’s series ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’, which can be seen at the intimate Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Harajuku.

Founded on the ukiyo-e collection of former president of Toho Insurance Company Seizo Ota, the museum occupies a quiet, unassuming building in the backstreets behind bustling Omotosando. Stepping inside ushers you into an oasis of tatami (woven straw) mat-clad calm – ideal for the contemplation of art.

But of course ukiyo-e (literally meaning ‘art of the pleasure district’) were hardly intended to be serene and uplifting – on the contrary these easily reproduced woodblock images were the tabloids of the Edo Period (1615–1868). Images of popular courtesans and Kabuki hunks grew so popular that a censorship law was brought into effect in 1790, leading artists to depict less sensational subjects like landscapes. In addition to its first-rate collection of prints by masters including Hokusai, Hiroshige and Sharaku, the Ota museum holds intriguing thematic exhibitions on topics like crossdressers that highlight the risqué nature of some ukiyo-e.

An excellent gift shop with a sensitively curated selection of traditional Japanese craft curios like furoshiki (traditional wrapping cloths) and chopsticks offers a great opportunity to pick up something for family and friends back home.

Ota Memorial Museum of Art; 1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; tel: 5777-8600; www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp; Tue–Sun 10.30am–5.30pm; [map] D2


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