Long live Japanese spring ……
Long live Japanese spring ……

Long live Japanese spring ……



                                                                          Spring evening at Kintai Bridge, 1947, Kawase Hasui

It’s Hanami, the time to celebrate spring. Hana is the word for flower, and sakura, cherry blossom. Hanami, or contemplating the flowers, is a time when, since the Edo period, people have been gathering under the trees for a big picnic with family and friends, sitting on a mat to enjoy the marvellous scenery. It’s springtime, and for all the children it’s the start of the school year, which begins in April. So this is the perfect time to take a holiday (which is very short in Japan) and visit your family or the country’s famous sites, such as Kyoto or Nara of course, or Ueno Park in Tokyo or Mount Koya.


Early photograph of a geisha surrounded by cherry branches (1887-1897) by Ogawa Kazumasa. Ethnologisches Museum/Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This celebration of spring, like that of each season and the transition from one to the next, is at the heart of Japanese daily life. It is reflected in all the arts, from poetry – such as haiku, which always includes a seasonal word in its composition – to painting and, of course, the art of printmaking, a popular art form by its very nature. The theme of spring and cherry blossom is particularly evident in prints, and all artists from ukiyo-e to Shin-hanga have paid tribute to this suspended moment in a thousand ways.

The Banyu River in Spring” 1938
Tsuchiya Koitsu is a Japanese painter and engraver belonging to the Shin-hanga school.

               Mt.Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi, Okada Koichi, 1950


                                                        Omuro cherry blossom in Kyoto Wood engraving, Asada Benji (1900 – 1984)


                      Bullfinch and cherry blossom by Hokusai

       Full moon and cherry blossom, woodcut, Koson Ohara


                                                            Spring in Mount Atago -1921, Kawase Hasui (Japanese 1883 – 1957)


                                                 “Enjoying the Cherry Blossom at Koganei.”, Toyohara ”Yoshu” Chikanobu (1838-1912



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