The cherry blossom, known in Japanese as ‘Sakura’ is one of the country's most iconic symbols. The tender beauty of the Sakura petals has been celebrated and portrayed in numerous poems, songs, cinematic masterpieces and art works. It’s a cultural symbol that epitomises the transient nature of life and enjoyment of the present moment, as they only bloom for a matter of weeks.
To celebrate the season, we've picked out a few of the most wonderful prints that best capture the beauty of spring time.
In this stunningly beautiful print, Kōitsu captures a colorful rendering of the walls and inner moat at Nagoya Castle at the height of the cherry blossom season.
Koitsu was one of the leading “Shin-hanga” (“new prints”) artists, a resurgent movement of printmakers that sought to revamp traditional Japanese printmaking thoughout the 1920’s-1950’s. He excelled at producing beautiful landscape designs with dramatic colors, light and shade.
Nagoya Castle was constructed on the orders of the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa to secure an important position on the Tokaido road and ward off attacks from the direction of Osaka. Construction was completed in 1612, and the castle is typical of those built on flatlands.
Until the Meiji Restoration, Nagoya Castle flourished as the castle in which the Owari lineage of the Tokugawa family, the foremost of the family’s three lineages, resided.
In May 1945, during the air raids on Nagoya in the Second World War, most of the buildings including the main and small dungeons, and the Hommaru Palace, were burned down. Fortunately, however, three corner towers, three gates, and most of the paintings on the sliding doors and walls in the Hommaru Palace survived the fire, and have been handed down as Important Cultural Assets.
- source https://nagoyajo.city.nagoya.jp/
A bullfinch hangs upside down from a branch of a weeping cherry tree, in this exquisite print taken from Hokusai’s series the “Small Flowers”, which featured birds and flowers in various studies.
A perfect example of Hokusai’s use and mastery of line, which manages to be both incredibly precise, but still flows without any rigidity, rendering the botanical elements in beautiful detail without losing their “nature”.
On the right, a poem by the little-known writer Raiban reads:
“One single bird, wet with dew,
Has come out;
The morning cherry.”
In a recurring motif throughout Kawase Hasui’s prints, a solitary figure makes his way through the world, passing beneath the beautiful arches of Kintai bridge and punting down river. We look on from the banks, peering through the flowering branches of a cherry tree in full bloom.
The Kintai Bridge is a wooden arch bridge, in the city of Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Built in 1673, it spans the Nishiki River in a series of five wooden arches and is located on the foot of Mt.Yokoyama, at the top of which lies Iwakuni Castle.
Kikkou Park, which includes the bridge and castle, is a popular tourist destination in Japan, particularly during the Cherry blossom festival in the spring.
Learn more about Kawase Hasui on our blog: search “Hasui”.
Gotenyama was a favourite spot for Japanese ukiyo-e artists to show their ability to capture a wonderful scene. Katsushika Hokusai, the iconic ukiyo-e artist, was best known for his “Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji” series of landscapes. The series was so popular, the publisher commissioned an additional ten views, of which this was the first (i.e. the 37th view of Mount Fuji).
One of Hokusai’s most detailed compositions in the series, it shows revellers enjoying themselves during a blossom viewing on Gotenyama hill, the former site of the shogun’s villa. Fuji itself is framed by the bloom.