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Art News:

Updated March 12, 2013; Originally released January 14, 2013 


Allison Peck, 202.633.0447

Amanda Williams, 202.633.0271 

pressasia@si.edu, @FreerSackler 


Japanese Illustrated Books Tell of Vibrant Reading Culture in Edo-Period Japan   
Gerhard Pulverer Collection Opens April 6 as part of DC's National Cherry Blossom Festival


Media Tour: Wednesday, April 3, 9:30-11 am
Featuring Ann Yonemura, Associate Senior Curator of Japanese Art, Freer|Sackler


Edo-period Japan (1615-1868) was an age of great social and political change that gave rise to an unprecedented "reading culture" of artists, writers and publishers. Similar to blogging and e-publication in the 21st century, illustrated books (ehon) in Edo-period Japan evolved quickly into a new cultural commons and a way to share ideas, and the publication and consumption of

"Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer's Japanese Illustrated Books," on view April 6-Aug.11, explores this revolution in both artistic expression and commercial trade. The more than 100 volumes on view will be organized similar to a modern-day bookstore, allowing visitors to browse a wide variety of topics, including design, crafts, botany, travelogues, scholarly texts, and poetry, as well as works by celebrated artists Hokusai and Utamaro.

"Hand-Held" is the Pulverer Collection's first major exhibition since its acquisition in 2007. Widely regarded as the finest private collection of Japanese illustrated books outside of Japan, its 2,200 volumes include many of the rarest and most pristine examples of the genre.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full range of museum programs in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, including an opening weekend celebration of Japanese art and design (April 5-7), book-binding workshops, a screening of Japanese horror thriller "Sangivarious" (April 3), taiko drumming and dance (April 12), and an annual anime festival (April 13-14


Read more. View available images. Discover related events.
special event  
Friday, April 5-Sunday, April 7 
With the city in bloom for the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20-April 14), the Freer|Sackler hosts a weekend celebrating Japanese design. Discover Edo-period woodblock prints in "Hand-Held" and bind your own Japanese book. Help create an audiovisual Japanese lantern installation with architect and Virginia Tech assistant professor Aki Ishida.  Explore works by contemporary artists working with traditional methods, and shop and a vintage Japanese garments trunk show.  
Saturday, April 13-Sunday, April 14 
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." Selected episodes are introduced by experts, and tours of Hand-Held and the Freer's Japanese collection are offered throughout the weekend. 
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Image Captions:

The Gerhard Pulvererer Collection of Japanese illustrated books, photo copyright the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian. Detail, Ehon seiro bijin awase, vol 1, by Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770); Japan, Edo period, 1770; Purchase, Freer Gallery of Art Study Collection, FSC.GR.780.558.1.  Still from Samurai Champloo, presented with the assistance of Otakorp, Inc., and the DC Anime Club. 
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Smithsonian: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery | 1050 Independence Avenue SW | Washington | DC | 20560



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