Exhibit Celebrates the Beauty of Japan’s Landscapes and Beliefs in Supernatural Beings that Influence Japanese Culture Today
LOS ANGELES – February 15, 2021 – JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, a Japanese cultural destination in the heart of Hollywood, unveils the launch of its newest exhibition: “NATURE/SUPERNATURE: Visions of This World and Beyond in Japanese Woodblock Prints.” Highlighting Japan’s iconic natural landscapes and supernatural beings believed to inhabit them, the exhibition features more than sixty woodblock prints from the coveted Scripps College collection by some of Japan’s finest artists. The exhibition is available starting today via an online experience, complete with a navigable 3D-virtual tour, exclusive content, a welcome video message, and noteworthy related programs.
The Japanese have long revered their natural landscape, celebrating its bounty and the beauty of the changing seasons in art, literature, travel, and festivals. The power of nature is a central theme in Japanese culture, rooted in the belief that supernatural forces and beings are at work in all aspects of the natural realm. Depending on how humans behave toward nature and each other, these forces can be benign and bountiful, or angry and destructive, causing floods, earthquakes, pestilence and other damage.
“We start the new year with an exhibition that honors the natural environment of Japan and depicts how people lived in awe and appreciation of nature and the supernatural power believed to reside in nature,” said Yuko Kaifu, president, JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. “I hope that it inspires visitors to take a closer look at these ancient beliefs that are still relevant to the Japanese way of living today.”
The NATURE/SUPERNATURE exhibition will feature three areas. The Woodblock Printing area introduces the history and process of Japanese woodblock printing, including very early examples of Japanese printed images, as well as woodblocks, printing tools, pigments and a set of prints illustrating how a full-color print is made.
The Nature area includes prints depicting beauty spots in and around the capital of Edo (modern Tokyo) near Mt. Fuji and four other regions: Nikko, Kyoto, the Seto Inland Sea, and Nagano. These beautiful landscape prints are by some of Japan’s most famous artists: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912), Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) and Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950).
The Supernature area explores some of the spiritual and supernatural beings believed to inhabit and influence nature and human lives. These include images of deities worshipped for centuries to ensure bountiful harvests, protection from floods and other calamities, as well as supernatural animals, trickster spirits, ghosts and demons. These lively prints were designed by artists including Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) and Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889).
The following NATURE/SUPERNATURE exhibition-related events are scheduled for February and March, with more programs to be announced in April and May.
• Curator’s Talk | NATURE/SUPERNATURE: Visions of this World and Beyond in Japanese Woodblock Prints
Monday, February 22, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. PST
This online lecture by Meher McArthur, Japanese art historian and curator of NATURE/SUPERNATURE, will examine the history of woodblock printing in Japan, the importance of the art form in Japanese traditional culture, and the ways some of Japan’s most renowned artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries used this art form to depict aspects of nature and the supernatural.
• Film Screening | A Letter to Momo
Monday, March 1 – Wednesday, March 31, anytime
This film complements the Supernature area of the exhibition that explores spiritual and supernatural folklore “yōkai” stories. In the film, a young Momo, clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio. It’s not long before several bizarre occurrences crop up around the previously tranquil island. Momo embarks on a strange and supernatural adventure to discover the source of the mischief, which leads her to a trio of troublesome imps: the flatulent lizard Kawa, the childlike Mame, and their hulking ogre leader Iwa. Momo also learns that her visit to the island is in some way connected to her father's mysterious letter.
• Webinar Conversation | Yōkai Past and Present, with Michael Dylan Foster and Zack Davisson
Thursday, March 25, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. PST
This webinar will be a lively conversation between two experts in yōkai, Michael Dylan Foster, professor of Japanese folklore and literature at U.C. Davis, and Zack Davisson yōkai expert, author and translator of Mizuki Shigeru manga. Foster will examine the evolving roles of yōkai in Japanese history, folklore, literature and theater, focusing on some of the most important and well-known examples of these supernatural creatures. Davisson will explore the influence of yōkai on modern-day manga, anime, video games and other aspects of modern Japanese culture. The conversation will be moderated by NATURE/SUPERNATURE curator, Meher McArthur.
The opening day of the physical gallery at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles will be announced on a later date, following guidance by local governments and the local health department.
Note: Japanese names in this exhibition are written in the traditional Japanese order, with the family name first and personal name last.
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JAPAN HOUSE is an innovative, worldwide project with three hubs, London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, conceived by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. It seeks to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community. JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles occupies two floors at Hollywood & Highland. JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles offers a place of new discovery that transcends the physical and conceptual boundaries creating experiences that reflect the best of Japan through its spaces and diverse programs.
Location: 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028