Jidai Matsuri

The Jidai Matsuri ( 時代祭り, literally "The Festival of Historical Epochs"), celebrated in Kyoto on October 22 of each year. This festival represents a magnificent opportunity to experience over a thousand years of Japanese feudal history as direct spectators in a single day.

Jidai Matsuri, the Festival of Historical Epochs

Guest Author: Myriam

Jidai Matsuri

photo credits: travel-on.planet-muh.de

The origins

This festivity has its roots in the oldest history of Japan and recalls, through an impressive historical costume parade, the events and characters that have marked the life of the city since its foundation. It has been held since 794 by Emperor Kanmu (桓武天皇, Kanmu Tennō) until the transfer of the capital to Edo in 1868 by the decision of Emperor Mitsuhito.

Since its creation under the name of Heian Kyo (平安京, "capital of tranquillity and peace"), Kyoto has remained the capital of Japan almost uninterruptedly for over a thousand years. With the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the beginning of the Meiji Era, the entire imperial court was transferred to Edo, which became Tokyo (東京, literally "eastern capital").

In 1895 on the occasion of the 1100th anniversary of its foundation, the governments of the city and the prefecture of Kyoto established the Jidai Matsuri with the intention of restoring lustre to the ancient capital. Along with this, the aim was to honour the memory of the emperors Kanmu and Komei through the construction of the majestic Heian shrine.

A thousand years of history on the road

Jidai Matsuri

photo credits: fodors.com

Since then, on October 22 of each year, Jidai Matsuri brings back to life the splendour of feudal Japan. This allows residents and tourists to relive the life of the ancient capital for a few hours. Today, the main attraction of the festival is the Jidai Gyoretsu. It is a historical parade in which over two thousand participants take part, dressed in period costumes or in costumes meticulously reproduced by the craftsmen of Kyoto.

At the head of the parade are the mikoshi (portable sanctuaries) dedicated to the Kanmu and Komei emperors and the festival's honorary commissioners, on horse-drawn carriages in the style of the mid-19th century and from there the parade unfolds in reverse chronological order, from the Meiji Era to the Heian period, through about twenty thematic groups, which make it possible to rediscover, era after era, the characters who contributed to the history of the city, from simple peasants and soldiers to prestigious historical figures, such as the unifiers of the country Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, or figures of religious or cultural importance, such as Murasaki Shikibu, author of the famous "Genji Monogatari". The figures are accompanied by the music of drums and flutes, which together with the over 12,000 historical artefacts used, allow spectators to immerse themselves completely in the atmosphere of past eras.

Jidai Matsuri

photo credits: blog.halal-navi.com

The long procession leaves at 12.00 noon from Kyoto Gosho, the imperial palace. It then winds for hours through the streets of the city centre, touching the most evocative and significant places. We see it passing by Oike and the Okazaki district, finally reaching the Heian Sanctuary. Here the Festival ends with the ceremonies foreseen by the Shinto rite.


[:it]Yuki-Onna: la misteriosa incarnazione dell’inverno giapponese[:en]Yuki-Onna: the mysterious incarnation of the Japanese winter[:ja]Yuki-Onna: the mysterious incarnation of the Japanese winter[:]

[:it]Nello sterminato mondo degli yokai (creature soprannaturali della tradizione giapponese), spicca la figura della Yuki-Onna (雪女). Leggendaria donna delle nevi, col suo fascino algido e letale incarna la terribile bellezza dell’inverno nelle montagne del Giappone.
Pur essendo conosciuta con nomi e storie differenti nelle diverse prefetture, questo personaggio è rinomato soprattutto delle zone più fredde ed impervie dell’arcipelago.

Yuki-Onna

La Yuki-onna viene descritta come una donna bellissima dalla pelle candida, che appare sui sentieri di montagna e nelle tempeste di neve. La raffigurano vestita di un leggero kimono bianco o nuda e coperta solo dai lunghissimi capelli, neri o candidi a seconda delle leggende. Apparizione eterea e fluttuante nel paesaggio innevato sul quale non lascia impronte, può improvvisamente scomparire trasformandosi in una nube di nebbia o di neve finissima.

Yuki-Onna: le Origini

L’origine di questa figura, come di altri yokai, si perde nei tempi più antichi. La prima traccia scritta della sua storia si ritrova nel Sōgi Shokoku Monogatari, risalente al periodo Muromachi (1333-1573). Qui il monaco Sogi descrive l’incontro con una donna di straordinaria bellezza durante la sua permanenza nella provincia di Echigo (attuale prefettura di Niigata). Questa donna misteriosa era vestita di bianco, alta e dalla carnagione pallidissima e con lunghi capelli candidi. Dall’aspetto di giovane età, ella apparve misteriosamente un mattino nel giardino ghiacciato del monaco. Tuttavia, scomparve altrettanto misteriosamente sotto lo sguardo incredulo dell’uomo.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: smitefire.com

I due volti dell’inverno

Come l’inverno che può manifestarsi con un abbagliante e sereno splendore oppure con una forza crudele e letale, così è la Yuki-onna. A volte essa appare come una spietata predatrice che attrae i viandanti smarriti nella tormenta per nutrirsi vampirescamente della loro energia vitale. Altre volte appare come una presenza benevola o addirittura a sua volta sedotta dal fascino umano.

Nelle storie più antiche prevale l’aspetto mostruoso e distruttore. Infatti in questi racconti, i genitori che hanno smarrito i propri figli in montagna vengono avvicinati da una donna. Essa chiede loro di prendere in braccio un bambino che lei stessa non riesce a portare. Gli incauti che accettano tale invito sono destinati a morire assiderati, sopraffatti dalla stanchezza di portare un fardello più pesante ad ogni passo.

Yuki-Onna Yuki-Onna

photo credits: wikipedia.org

Oppure in altre storie, la Yuki-Onna seduce uomini soggiogati dal suo fascino ultraterreno. Questi finiscono per soccombere al suo bacio mortale, capace di prosciugare la loro forza vitale e congelare i loro cuori. O ancora in racconti drammatici, in cui la Yuki-Onna non si limita ad attendere il passaggio di viandanti disorientati. Qui infatti, essa entra prepotentemente nelle case, spalancando porte e finestre sotto forma di violente tormente di neve uccidendo i malcapitati abitanti.

In Occidente conosciamo un aspetto più romantico di queste leggente. Questo avviene soprattutto grazie all’opera di Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, giornalista e scrittore irlandese naturalizzato giapponese, conosciuto anche come Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲).

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: letterboxd.com

La versione di Lafcadio

“Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things” è opera del 1904 contenente una raccolta di credenze popolari e anche un'interpretazione della cultura e dei costumi del Giappone. Qui la leggenda narrata da Hearn parla di due boscaioli, l’anziano Mosaku ed il suo giovane apprendista Minokichi, che tornano a casa dopo una giornata di lavoro in una fredda sera. I due personaggi sorpresi da una violenta tempesta di neve, trovano riparo in una capanna vicino ad un fiume. A seguire, i due uomini si adagiano sul pavimento della capanna e vinti dalla fatica si addormentano. Durante la notte Minokichi viene svegliato da un vento gelido, che sembra aver spalancato porta e finestre della capanna. Ancora confuso dal sonno e credendo di sognare, vede una donna vestita di bianco e dalla lunga chioma, china su Mosaku, intenta ad alitare su di lui un gelido fiato simile a nebbia.

Quando la donna si volta verso Minokichi, il giovane rimane come incantato dalla sua incredibile bellezza. Tuttavia, non riesce a sostenere quello sguardo che gli incute un indicibile terrore. Intenerita dalla giovinezza e dall’avvenenza del ragazzo, la donna decide di risparmiare la sua vita a condizione che egli non riveli mai a nessuno l’esistenza di una tale creatura. Se mai dovesse parlare a qualcuno di quegli eventi, la sua morte sarebbe certa.

Il mattino seguente un barcaiolo, proprietario del capanno, trova nel suo interno il corpo ormai congelato dell’anziano Mosaku, ma riesce a trarre in salvo Minokichi, ormai semi assiderato.

Un anno dopo...

Superati ormai il terrore e lo spossamento di quella terribile notte, il giovane prende in sposa una bellissima giovane donna di nome O-yuki. Improvvisamente comparsa nel suo villaggio ella fu subito ben voluta da tutti per il suo fascino ed i suoi modi gentili. Per molti anni i due vivono un matrimonio felice, benedetto dall’inspiegabile eterna giovinezza della ragazza, la cui bellezza sembra perdurare immutata nel tempo nonostante la nascita di dieci figli.

Finchè un giorno Minokichi, dimenticando la promessa fatta, racconta sconsideratamente a sua moglie di una creatura soprannaturale incontrata molti anni prima e che in qualche modo sembra ricordargli la sua incantevole sposa. Con sua immensa sorpresa, O-yuki, improvvisamente trasfigurata dalla rabbia, rivela essere proprio la donna da lui incontrata quella notte. Dopo aver rinfacciato al marito di non aver saputo tener fede alla promessa di segretezza fatta tanti anni prima, decide di risparmiargli la vita, per amore dei loro figli. Così, dopo averlo ammonito ad avere buona cura di loro, scompare per sempre.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: aminoapps.com

La Yuki-Onna nell’età contemporanea

Come la sposa di Minokichi, la leggenda della Yuki-onna, crudele e romantica al tempo stesso, sembra conservare intatto il proprio fascino nei secoli.
Infatti, in epoca contemporanea ha ispirato numerosi film. Ricordiamo infatti Kwaidan (怪談) del 1965, diretto da Masaki Kobayashi, vincitore del premio speciale della giuria al Festival di Cannes. Kwaidan fu anche in lizza agli Academy Award con una nomination per il Miglior film in lingua straniera.
Al successo di questo film ha fatto seguito, nel 1968, Kaidan yukijoro di Tokuzô Tanaka, fino ad arrivare nel 2016 con Yuki-Onna, diretto e interpretato da Kiki Sugino.

La bella e letale donna delle nevi, nelle sue innumerevoli varianti, compare poi come protagonista o personaggio di spicco in una vastissima gamma di videogiochi, anime e manga. Ricordiamo Nurarihyon no Mago o Ranma ½, solo per citarne alcuni. Tuttavia, il suo intramontabile fascino continuerà ad ammaliarci ancora a lungo, col suo eterno, candido inverno.[:en]In the endless world of yokai (supernatural creatures of the Japanese tradition), the figure of Yuki-Onna (雪女) stands out. Legendary snow woman, with her icy and lethal charm, embodies the terrible beauty of winter in the mountains of Japan.
Despite being known by different names and stories in the various prefectures, this character is renowned above all in the coldest and most inaccessible areas of the archipelago.

Yuki-Onna

The Yuki-Onna is described as a beautiful woman with white skin, which appears on mountain trails and in snowstorms. She is dressed in a light white kimono or naked and covered only by very long hair, black or white depending on the legends. Ethereal and floating apparition in the snowy landscape on which it leaves no footprints, it can suddenly disappear turning into a cloud of fog or very fine snow.

Yuki-Onna: the Origins

The origin of this figure, like other yokai, is lost in the most ancient times. The first written trace of its history is found in the Sōgi Shokoku Monogatari, dating back to the Muromachi period (1333-1573). Here the monk Sogi describes the encounter with a woman of extraordinary beauty during his stay in the province of Echigo (current prefecture of Niigata). This mysterious woman was dressed in white, tall and with a very pale complexion and long white hair. From a young appearance, she mysteriously appeared one morning in the frozen garden of the monk. However, it disappeared just as mysteriously under the incredulous gaze of man.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: smitefire.com

The two faces of winter

Like the winter that can manifest itself with a dazzling and serene splendor or with a cruel and lethal force, so is the Yuki-Onna. Sometimes it appears as a ruthless predator that attracts lost travelers into the storm to feed on them with their life energy. At other times it appears as a benevolent presence or even in its turn seduced by human charm.

In the most ancient stories, the monstrous and destructive aspect prevails. In fact, in these stories, parents who have lost their children in the mountains are approached by a woman. She asks them to pick up a child she can't bring herself. The unwary who accept this invitation are destined to freeze to death, overwhelmed by the fatigue of carrying a heavier burden at every step.

Yuki-Onna Yuki-Onna

photo credits: wikipedia.org

Or in the stories, the Yuki-Onna seduces men subjugated by its otherworldly charm. They end up succumbing to his mortal kiss, able to drain their life force and freeze their hearts. Or again in dramatic stories, in which Yuki-Onna does not simply wait for the passage of bewildered travelers. Here, in fact, it enters the houses forcefully, opening doors and windows in the form of violent snowstorms, killing the unfortunate inhabitants.

In the West, we know a more romantic aspect of this reading. This is mostly thanks to the work of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, a Ireland-born journalist and writer from Japan, also known as Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲).

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: letterboxd.com

The Lafcadio version

"Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things" is a 1904 work containing a collection of popular beliefs and also an interpretation of the culture and customs of Japan. Here the legend narrated by Hearn speaks of two woodcutters, Elder Mosaku and his young apprentice Minokichi, who return home after a day's work on a cold evening. The two characters surprised by a violent snowstorm find shelter in a hut near a river. Afterward, the two men lay on the floor of the hut and, overcome by fatigue, they fall asleep. During the night Minokichi is awakened by an icy wind, which seems to have opened the door and windows of the hut. Still confused by sleep and believing he is dreaming, he sees a woman dressed in white and with long hair, bending over Mosaku, intent on breathing a cold mist like breath over him.

When the woman turns to Minokichi, the young man remains enchanted by her incredible beauty. However, he cannot sustain that look that inspires an unspeakable terror. Softened by the youth and the attractiveness of the boy, the woman decides to spare his life on condition that he never reveals to anyone the existence of such a creature. If he ever spoke to any of those events, his death would be certain.

The following morning a boatman, owner of the hut, finds in his interior the now frozen body of the elderly Mosaku, but manages to rescue Minokichi, now semi-frozen to safety.

A year later...

Having overcome the terror and exhaustion of that terrible night, the young man marries a beautiful young woman named O-Yuki. Suddenly appearing in his village she was immediately well-liked by everyone for her charm and her gentle manner. For many years the two live a happy marriage, blessed by the girl's inexplicable eternal youth, whose beauty seems to endure unchanged over time despite the birth of ten children.

Until one-day Minokichi, forgetting the promise he made, recklessly tells his wife of a supernatural creature he met many years before and that somehow seems to remind him of his charming bride. To his immense surprise, O-Yuki, suddenly transfigured by anger, reveals herself to be the woman he met that night. After having reproached her husband for not having been able to keep the promise of secrecy made so many years before, she decides to spare his life for the sake of their children. So, after warning him to take good care of them, she disappears forever.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: aminoapps.com

Yuki-Onna in the contemporary age

Like the bride of Minokichi, the legend of Yuki-Onna, cruel and romantic at the same time, seems to preserve its charm over the centuries.
In fact, in contemporary times it has inspired numerous films. We remember in fact Kwaidan (怪怪) of 1965, directed by Masaki Kobayashi, winner of the special prize of the jury at the Cannes Festival. Kwaidan was also in the running for the Academy Awards with a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
The success of this film was followed, in 1968, by Kaidan Yukijoro by Tokuzô Tanaka, until 2016 with Yuki-Onna, directed and performed by Kiki Sugino.

The beautiful and lethal snow woman, in her innumerable variations, then appears as a protagonist or leading figure in a vast range of video games, anime and manga. Nurarihyon no Mago or Ranma ½, just to name a few. However, its timeless charm will continue to enchant us for a long time, with its eternal, candid winter.[:ja]In the endless world of yokai (supernatural creatures of the Japanese tradition), the figure of Yuki-Onna (雪女) stands out. Legendary snow woman, with her icy and lethal charm, embodies the terrible beauty of winter in the mountains of Japan.
Despite being known by different names and stories in the various prefectures, this character is renowned above all in the coldest and most inaccessible areas of the archipelago.

Yuki-Onna

The Yuki-Onna is described as a beautiful woman with white skin, which appears on mountain trails and in snowstorms. She is dressed in a light white kimono or naked and covered only by very long hair, black or white depending on the legends. Ethereal and floating apparition in the snowy landscape on which it leaves no footprints, it can suddenly disappear turning into a cloud of fog or very fine snow.

Yuki-Onna: the Origins

The origin of this figure, like other yokai, is lost in the most ancient times. The first written trace of its history is found in the Sōgi Shokoku Monogatari, dating back to the Muromachi period (1333-1573). Here the monk Sogi describes the encounter with a woman of extraordinary beauty during his stay in the province of Echigo (current prefecture of Niigata). This mysterious woman was dressed in white, tall and with a very pale complexion and long white hair. From a young appearance, she mysteriously appeared one morning in the frozen garden of the monk. However, it disappeared just as mysteriously under the incredulous gaze of man.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: smitefire.com

The two faces of winter

Like the winter that can manifest itself with a dazzling and serene splendor or with a cruel and lethal force, so is the Yuki-Onna. Sometimes it appears as a ruthless predator that attracts lost travelers into the storm to feed on them with their life energy. At other times it appears as a benevolent presence or even in its turn seduced by human charm.

In the most ancient stories, the monstrous and destructive aspect prevails. In fact, in these stories, parents who have lost their children in the mountains are approached by a woman. She asks them to pick up a child she can't bring herself. The unwary who accept this invitation are destined to freeze to death, overwhelmed by the fatigue of carrying a heavier burden at every step.

Yuki-Onna Yuki-Onna

photo credits: wikipedia.org

Or in the stories, the Yuki-Onna seduces men subjugated by its otherworldly charm. They end up succumbing to his mortal kiss, able to drain their life force and freeze their hearts. Or again in dramatic stories, in which Yuki-Onna does not simply wait for the passage of bewildered travelers. Here, in fact, it enters the houses forcefully, opening doors and windows in the form of violent snowstorms, killing the unfortunate inhabitants.

In the West, we know a more romantic aspect of this reading. This is mostly thanks to the work of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, a Ireland-born journalist and writer from Japan, also known as Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲).

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: letterboxd.com

The Lafcadio version

"Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things" is a 1904 work containing a collection of popular beliefs and also an interpretation of the culture and customs of Japan. Here the legend narrated by Hearn speaks of two woodcutters, Elder Mosaku and his young apprentice Minokichi, who return home after a day's work on a cold evening. The two characters surprised by a violent snowstorm find shelter in a hut near a river. Afterward, the two men lay on the floor of the hut and, overcome by fatigue, they fall asleep. During the night Minokichi is awakened by an icy wind, which seems to have opened the door and windows of the hut. Still confused by sleep and believing he is dreaming, he sees a woman dressed in white and with long hair, bending over Mosaku, intent on breathing a cold mist like breath over him.

When the woman turns to Minokichi, the young man remains enchanted by her incredible beauty. However, he cannot sustain that look that inspires an unspeakable terror. Softened by the youth and the attractiveness of the boy, the woman decides to spare his life on condition that he never reveals to anyone the existence of such a creature. If he ever spoke to any of those events, his death would be certain.

The following morning a boatman, owner of the hut, finds in his interior the now frozen body of the elderly Mosaku, but manages to rescue Minokichi, now semi-frozen to safety.

A year later...

Having overcome the terror and exhaustion of that terrible night, the young man marries a beautiful young woman named O-Yuki. Suddenly appearing in his village she was immediately well-liked by everyone for her charm and her gentle manner. For many years the two live a happy marriage, blessed by the girl's inexplicable eternal youth, whose beauty seems to endure unchanged over time despite the birth of ten children.

Until one-day Minokichi, forgetting the promise he made, recklessly tells his wife of a supernatural creature he met many years before and that somehow seems to remind him of his charming bride. To his immense surprise, O-Yuki, suddenly transfigured by anger, reveals herself to be the woman he met that night. After having reproached her husband for not having been able to keep the promise of secrecy made so many years before, she decides to spare his life for the sake of their children. So, after warning him to take good care of them, she disappears forever.

Yuki-Onna

photo credits: aminoapps.com

Yuki-Onna in the contemporary age

Like the bride of Minokichi, the legend of Yuki-Onna, cruel and romantic at the same time, seems to preserve its charm over the centuries.
In fact, in contemporary times it has inspired numerous films. We remember in fact Kwaidan (怪怪) of 1965, directed by Masaki Kobayashi, winner of the special prize of the jury at the Cannes Festival. Kwaidan was also in the running for the Academy Awards with a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
The success of this film was followed, in 1968, by Kaidan Yukijoro by Tokuzô Tanaka, until 2016 with Yuki-Onna, directed and performed by Kiki Sugino.

The beautiful and lethal snow woman, in her innumerable variations, then appears as a protagonist or leading figure in a vast range of video games, anime and manga. Nurarihyon no Mago or Ranma ½, just to name a few. However, its timeless charm will continue to enchant us for a long time, with its eternal, candid winter.[:]


[:it]Japan Folklore: Setsubun, come scacciare i demoni dell’inverno per accogliere la primavera[:en]Japan Folklore: Setsubun, how to drive away the demons of winter to welcome spring[:ja]Japan Folklore: Setsubun, how to drive away the demons of winter to welcome spring[:]

[:it]


photo credits: pinterest.it

La cultura tradizionale giapponese è sempre stata caratterizzata da una costante ed amorevole osservazione del mondo naturale, delle sue manifestazioni e dei suoi cicli stagionali. Non deve quindi meravigliare l’attenzione riservata alla primavera, lo speciale momento in cui la natura risveglia in tutte le sue creature la necessità del rinnovamento.

Questa stagione è celebrata in Giappone con l’haru matsuri (春祭, festival di primavera), un insieme di eventi il cui inizio è segnato dalla ricorrenza di Setsubun (節分). Nel tradizionale calendario lunisolare giapponese, infatti, ogni cambio di stagione è introdotto da un giorno chiamato, appunto, setsubun (letteralmente “divisione delle stagioni”). Il setsubun di primavera, che cade il 3 febbraio, rappresenta l’ultimo giorno dell’inverno e il giorno che precede l’inizio della nuova stagione. Segna quindi il passaggio dal “Taikan” (大寒, grande freddo) al “Risshun” (立春, primo giorno di primavera) ed è perciò il momento più propizio per una speciale “pulizia” dai fardelli invernali, che allontanerà gli spiriti maligni e favorirà l’ingresso della nuova energia vivificante. E’ questo il senso della tradizionale “cacciata dei demoni” che ha luogo in questo giorno attraverso diversi riti ed usanze.


photo credits: pinimg.com

Antichi rituali e divertimento per famiglie

Il rituale più famoso è senza dubbio il mamemaki (豆撒き), ovvero il lancio dei fagioli di soia. In ambito domestico esso è affidato al Toshi Otoko (年男, uomo dell’anno), cioè l’uomo della famiglia del segno zodiacale dell’anno lunare entrante o in sua assenza il più anziano di casa; costui ha il compito di scacciare gli spiriti nocivi e le negatività dalla casa e dal nuovo periodo dell’anno che sta per iniziare lanciando in giro irimame (炒り豆, fagioli di soia tostati) al grido di “Oni wa soto! fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内, “Fuori i demoni! Dentro la fortuna!”). In alternativa si possono scagliare gli irimame contro un altro membro della famiglia che interpreta la parte del demone indossando una maschera da oni (orchi del folcklore giapponese). Successivamente ogni componente della famiglia deve raccogliere e mangiare un numero di fagioli corrispondente alla propria età più uno per assicurarsi un anno di successi e buona salute (nella tradizione popolare, infatti, i demoni sono ritenuti portatori di catastrofi naturali e malattie). Scacciato l’oni, è però necessario tenere gli spiriti maligni lontani dalla casa. Per questo è possibile vedere in questo periodo dell’anno dei particolarissimi amuleti, gli Hiiragi Iwashi (柊鰯), esposti all’ingresso delle abitazioni. Si tratta di rami di agrifoglio che presentano la testa di una sardina essiccata infilzata sull’estremità, talvolta completati da pezzi di aglio o cipolla, che hanno appunto lo scopo di tenere lontani i demoni, timorosi delle spine e dell’ odore pungente emanato da questi talismani.

Si tratta in entrambi i casi di tradizioni che affondano le proprie radici nell’antichità. Al giorno d’oggi è possibile acquistare “set da Setsubun” - composti da maschere da oni e fagioli tostati - in qualsiasi conbini, ma in realtà l’usanza del mamemaki avrebbe avuto origine nel periodo Muromachi (1392-1573) e sembra essere ispirata ad un’antichissima leggenda, la cui trama viene tuttora rappresentata in forma di pantomima nel tempio di Mibu-dera a Kyoto. Qui il kyogen (antica forma teatrale giapponese) intitolato “Setsubun” viene replicato più volte nel corso della giornata e si dice che basti assistere ad esso per essere purificati da ogni spirito negativo o malvagio. La sua trama ricalca il racconto folkloristico che narra di un orco il quale, sotto sembianze umane, si reca un giorno a far visita ad una vedova. Grazie al suo martello magico, l’orco confeziona un bellissimo kimono, che attira l’attenzione della vedova. Desiderosa di impossessarsi non solo del kimono ma anche del martello magico, essa decide di farlo ubriacare per poterglieli rubare entrambi. L’orco, però, accortosi del furto, rivela la propria natura demoniaca ed attacca la donna, che per difendersi gli scaglia contro la prima cosa che trova a portata di mano: un pugno di fagioli di soia. L’oni, ferito ma di nuovo in possesso dei suoi beni, fugge lasciando la vedova sana e salva e forse un po’ più saggia.


photo credits: toyokeizai.net

Saper guardare nella giusta direzione

Un’usanza di origini più recenti, nata ad Osaka ma successivamente diffusasi nel resto del paese, è invece quella legata all’ehōmaki (恵方巻, rotolo della direzione fortunata). In questo caso, per assicurarsi che la buona sorte sia al nostro fianco nell’anno che sta per iniziare, è necessario mangiare uno speciale rotolo di sushi in un’unica soluzione, senza interruzioni ed in silenzio, rivolti nella direzione fortunata dell’anno. L’impresa è meno semplice di quel che può sembrare, considerando che l’ehōmaki è molto più spesso di un comune sushi roll (dovendo contenere sette ingredienti per propiziarsi i sette dei della fortuna) ed è lungo 20 centimetri. Non vale mangiarlo tagliato in pezzi, perché così facendo si taglierebbe anche la fortuna. Per compiere correttamente il rituale è necessario quindi armarsi di concentrazione, determinazione e di una bussola precisa. Per chi fosse interessato a sperimentare questa usanza, gli ingredienti più comuni da procurarsi per la farcitura sono cetriolo, surimi, salmone, tonno, anago (anguilla di mare), tamagoyaki (omelette giapponese), strisce di kanpyo essiccate e condite (zucca giapponese) e funghi shiitake, oltre naturalmente al riso e all’alga nori, mentre la direzione fortunata per il 2019 è Est-NordEst.

photo credits: shinsenhino.com

Templi in festa

Il Setsubun può essere celebrato in un ambiente domestico o comunque in una dimensione privata, con parenti ed amici, ma è anche e soprattutto una ricorrenza da vivere in comunità. Ad esempio nelle scuole vengono spesso organizzati momenti di ricreazione per i bambini, che indossano maschere da oni o si divertono a dare la caccia ad adulti travestiti da demoni, rincorrendoli e scagliando loro fagioli. Ma è in particolare nei templi che è possibile vivere la dimensione collettiva della festa, partecipando agli eventi appositamente realizzati per questa giornata. Primo fra tutti naturalmente il mamemaki, effettuato dai monaci che dall’alto di appositi palchi lanciano fagioli di soia sulla folla radunata per l’evento. In alcuni templi vengono organizzati più turni per questo rituale, riservandone alcuni speciali ai bambini, che oltre ai fagioli ricevono dolci o piccoli doni. Oltre ai monaci sono spesso presenti personaggi celebri, come campioni sportivi, protagonisti del mondo dello spettacolo, attori del teatro kabuki, geisha e maiko, celebrità televisive, che aggiungono una nota di attrattiva glamour ai festeggiamenti tradizionali. Tra questi ultimi vanno ricordati gli spettacoli teatrali, le diverse cerimonie di purificazione o anche le suggestive esibizioni di tiro con l’arco, in cui gli arcieri scagliano le proprie frecce contro bersagli che hanno fattezze di demoni.

Setsubun è insomma la giornata ideale per coloro che desiderano vivere in compagnia un inizio d’anno che aiuti a rinnovare le proprie energie e per le famiglie che hanno l’opportunità di trascorrere insieme un momento di allegria, cosa che ad ogni latitudine resta sempre il miglior talismano contro ogni male.[:en]


photo credits: pinterest.it

Traditional Japanese culture has always been characterized by a constant and loving observation of the natural world, its manifestations and its seasonal cycles. Therefore, the attention given to spring, the special moment when nature awakens in all its creatures the necessity of renewal, must not marvel.

This season is celebrated in Japan with the haru matsuri (春祭, spring festival), a set of events whose beginning is marked by the occurrence of Setsubun (節 分). In the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar, in fact, every change of season is introduced by a day called, indeed, setsubun (literally "division of the seasons"). Spring setsubun, which falls on 3 February, represents the last day of winter and the day before the start of the new season. It marks the transition from "Taikan" (大寒, big cold) to "Risshun" (立春, first day of spring) and is therefore the most favorable moment for a special "cleaning" from winter burdens, which will drive away evil spirits and favor the entrance of the new life-giving energy. This is the meaning of the traditional "demon expulsion" that takes place on this day through different rituals and customs.


photo credits: pinimg.com

Ancient rituals and family fun

The most famous ritual is undoubtedly the mamemaki (豆 撒 き), which is the launch of soy beans. In the domestic sphere it is entrusted to Toshi Otoko (年 男, man of the year), that is the man of the family of the zodiacal sign of the lunar year entering or in his absence the oldest of the house. He has the task of driving out the harmful spirits and negativities from the house and the new year that is about to start by throwing around irimame (炒 り 豆, toasted soy beans) to the cry of "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内, "Outside the demons! Inside fortune!"). In alternative, he can hurl the beans at another member of the family who plays the part of the demon wearing a mask of oni (Japanese folklore ogres). Subsequently, each member of the family must collect and eat a number of beans corresponding to their age plus one to ensure a year of success and good health (in the popular tradition, in fact, the demons are considered carriers of natural disasters and diseases).
When the oni is expelled, it is necessary to keep the evil spirits away from the house. For this reason it is possible to see in this period of the year some very special amulets, the Hiiragi Iwashi (柊 鰯), exposed at the entrance of the houses. These are holly branches that have the head of a dried sardine skewered on the end, sometimes complemented by pieces of garlic or onion, which have the purpose of keeping demons away, scared by the thorns and the pungent odor emanating from these talismans.

In both cases it is a tradition that has its roots in antiquity. Nowadays it is possible to buy "Setsubun sets" - made of oni masks and roasted beans - in any combini, but in reality the mamemaki custom would have originated in the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and seems to be inspired to an ancient legend, whose plot is still represented in the form of pantomime in the temple of Mibu-dera in Kyoto. Here the kyogen (ancient Japanese theatrical form) titled "Setsubun" is repeated several times during the day and it is said that it is sufficient to watch it to be purified by any negative or evil spirit. Its plot follows the folk tale that tells of an ogre who, in human form, goes one day to visit a widow. Thanks to its magic hammer, the ogre makes a beautiful kimono, which attracts the widow's attention. Eager to take possession not only of the kimono but also of the magic hammer, she decides to get him drunk to be able to steal them both. The ogre, however, aware of the theft, reveals his demonic nature and attacks the woman, who defends herself with the first thing that is within reach: a handful of soy beans. The oni, wounded but again in possession of his goods, flees leaving the widow safe and sound and perhaps a little wiser.


photo credits: toyokeizai.net

Knowing how to look in the right direction

A tradition of more recent origins, born in Osaka but later spread to the rest of the country, is instead linked to the ehōmaki (恵 方 巻, scroll of lucky direction). In this case, to ensure that the good luck is on our side in the year that is about to begin, it is necessary to eat a special sushi roll in a single solution, without interruptions and in silence, facing the lucky direction of the year. The act is less simple than it may seem, considering that the ehōmaki is much more often than a common sushi roll (having to contain seven ingredients to propitiate the seven gods of luck) and is 20 centimeters long. It is not worth eating it cut into pieces, because doing so would also cut luck. To perform the ritual correctly, it is therefore necessary to arm yourself with concentration, determination and a precise compass. For those interested in experimenting with this custom, the most common ingredients to obtain for the filling are cucumber, surimi, salmon, tuna, anago (sea eel), tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), dried kanpyo strips and seasoned (Japanese pumpkin) and shiitake mushrooms, as well as rice and nori seaweed, while the lucky direction for 2019 is East-North East.

photo credits: shinsenhino.com

Festive temples

The Setsubun can be celebrated in a domestic environment or at least in a private dimension, with relatives and friends, but it is also and above all a recurrence to be lived in community. For example, schools often organize moments of recreation for children, who wear oni masks or have fun chasing adults dressed as demons while hurling beans against them. But it is especially in the temples that it is possible to experience the collective dimension of the party, participating in the events specially created for this day. First of all, of course, the mamemaki, carried out by the monks who throw soy beans from the top of the stages on the crowd gathered for the event. In some temples more shifts are organized for this ritual, reserving some special ones for children, who in addition to the beans receive sweets or small gifts. In addition to the monks, celebrities are often present, such as sports champions, personalities of the entertainment world, actors of the kabuki theater, geisha and maiko, television celebrities, who add a note of attractive glamor to traditional festivities. Among the latter we must remember the theatrical performances, the various purification ceremonies or even the striking archery performances, in which the archers throw their arrows at targets that have demon-like features.

In short, Setsubun is the ideal day for those who wish to live in company a start of the year that helps to renew their energies and for families who have the opportunity to spend a moment of joy together, something that always remains the best talisman against all evil at every latitude.[:ja]


photo credits: pinterest.it

Traditional Japanese culture has always been characterized by a constant and loving observation of the natural world, its manifestations and its seasonal cycles. Therefore, the attention given to spring, the special moment when nature awakens in all its creatures the necessity of renewal, must not marvel.

This season is celebrated in Japan with the haru matsuri (春祭, spring festival), a set of events whose beginning is marked by the occurrence of Setsubun (節 分). In the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar, in fact, every change of season is introduced by a day called, indeed, setsubun (literally "division of the seasons"). Spring setsubun, which falls on 3 February, represents the last day of winter and the day before the start of the new season. It marks the transition from "Taikan" (大寒, big cold) to "Risshun" (立春, first day of spring) and is therefore the most favorable moment for a special "cleaning" from winter burdens, which will drive away evil spirits and favor the entrance of the new life-giving energy. This is the meaning of the traditional "demon expulsion" that takes place on this day through different rituals and customs.


photo credits: pinimg.com

Ancient rituals and family fun

The most famous ritual is undoubtedly the mamemaki (豆 撒 き), which is the launch of soy beans. In the domestic sphere it is entrusted to Toshi Otoko (年 男, man of the year), that is the man of the family of the zodiacal sign of the lunar year entering or in his absence the oldest of the house. He has the task of driving out the harmful spirits and negativities from the house and the new year that is about to start by throwing around irimame (炒 り 豆, toasted soy beans) to the cry of "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内, "Outside the demons! Inside fortune!"). In alternative, he can hurl the beans at another member of the family who plays the part of the demon wearing a mask of oni (Japanese folklore ogres). Subsequently, each member of the family must collect and eat a number of beans corresponding to their age plus one to ensure a year of success and good health (in the popular tradition, in fact, the demons are considered carriers of natural disasters and diseases).
When the oni is expelled, it is necessary to keep the evil spirits away from the house. For this reason it is possible to see in this period of the year some very special amulets, the Hiiragi Iwashi (柊 鰯), exposed at the entrance of the houses. These are holly branches that have the head of a dried sardine skewered on the end, sometimes complemented by pieces of garlic or onion, which have the purpose of keeping demons away, scared by the thorns and the pungent odor emanating from these talismans.

In both cases it is a tradition that has its roots in antiquity. Nowadays it is possible to buy "Setsubun sets" - made of oni masks and roasted beans - in any combini, but in reality the mamemaki custom would have originated in the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and seems to be inspired to an ancient legend, whose plot is still represented in the form of pantomime in the temple of Mibu-dera in Kyoto. Here the kyogen (ancient Japanese theatrical form) titled "Setsubun" is repeated several times during the day and it is said that it is sufficient to watch it to be purified by any negative or evil spirit. Its plot follows the folk tale that tells of an ogre who, in human form, goes one day to visit a widow. Thanks to its magic hammer, the ogre makes a beautiful kimono, which attracts the widow's attention. Eager to take possession not only of the kimono but also of the magic hammer, she decides to get him drunk to be able to steal them both. The ogre, however, aware of the theft, reveals his demonic nature and attacks the woman, who defends herself with the first thing that is within reach: a handful of soy beans. The oni, wounded but again in possession of his goods, flees leaving the widow safe and sound and perhaps a little wiser.


photo credits: toyokeizai.net

Knowing how to look in the right direction

A tradition of more recent origins, born in Osaka but later spread to the rest of the country, is instead linked to the ehōmaki (恵 方 巻, scroll of lucky direction). In this case, to ensure that the good luck is on our side in the year that is about to begin, it is necessary to eat a special sushi roll in a single solution, without interruptions and in silence, facing the lucky direction of the year. The act is less simple than it may seem, considering that the ehōmaki is much more often than a common sushi roll (having to contain seven ingredients to propitiate the seven gods of luck) and is 20 centimeters long. It is not worth eating it cut into pieces, because doing so would also cut luck. To perform the ritual correctly, it is therefore necessary to arm yourself with concentration, determination and a precise compass. For those interested in experimenting with this custom, the most common ingredients to obtain for the filling are cucumber, surimi, salmon, tuna, anago (sea eel), tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), dried kanpyo strips and seasoned (Japanese pumpkin) and shiitake mushrooms, as well as rice and nori seaweed, while the lucky direction for 2019 is East-North East.

photo credits: shinsenhino.com

Festive temples

The Setsubun can be celebrated in a domestic environment or at least in a private dimension, with relatives and friends, but it is also and above all a recurrence to be lived in community. For example, schools often organize moments of recreation for children, who wear oni masks or have fun chasing adults dressed as demons while hurling beans against them. But it is especially in the temples that it is possible to experience the collective dimension of the party, participating in the events specially created for this day. First of all, of course, the mamemaki, carried out by the monks who throw soy beans from the top of the stages on the crowd gathered for the event. In some temples more shifts are organized for this ritual, reserving some special ones for children, who in addition to the beans receive sweets or small gifts. In addition to the monks, celebrities are often present, such as sports champions, personalities of the entertainment world, actors of the kabuki theater, geisha and maiko, television celebrities, who add a note of attractive glamor to traditional festivities. Among the latter we must remember the theatrical performances, the various purification ceremonies or even the striking archery performances, in which the archers throw their arrows at targets that have demon-like features.

In short, Setsubun is the ideal day for those who wish to live in company a start of the year that helps to renew their energies and for families who have the opportunity to spend a moment of joy together, something that always remains the best talisman against all evil at every latitude.[:]


[:it]Japan Italy: Hiroshige Hokusai. Oltre L'onda[:en]Japan Italy: Hiroshige Hokusai. Beyond the Wave[:ja]Japan Italy: Hiroshige Hokusai. Beyond the Wave[:]

[:it]

L’affascinante mondo dell’Ukiyo-e in mostra a Bologna

photo credit: mondomostreskira.it

Dopo le esposizioni di Roma e Milano, le iniziative avviate nel 2016 per celebrare il 150° anniversario delle relazioni bilaterali Italia – Giappone proseguono a Bologna con la splendida mostra “HOKUSAI HIROSHIGE. Oltre l’onda”. Fino al 3 Marzo 2019 presso il Museo Civico Archeologico, sarà possibile esplorare l’affascinante mondo dell’Ukiyo-e - la stampa artistica giapponese, iconica rappresentazione del mondo fluttuante - attraverso una selezione di circa 250 opere provenienti dal Museum of Fine Arts di Boston, per la prima volta visibili in Italia.

Il progetto, ottimamente curato da Rossella Menegazzo con Sarah E. Thompson e prodotto da MondoMostre Skira, si sviluppa in un ricchissimo percorso, lungo il quale il visitatore può godere un’esperienza non solo raffinatamente estetica, ma anche densa di contenuti ed approfondimenti relativi alla vita e all’esperienza artistica dei due maestri.

Le audio guide, fornite gratuitamente con il biglietto d’ingresso, permettono infatti di apprezzare appieno il significato artistico ed il valore storico delle opere esposte, accompagnando passo per passo il visitatore attraverso spazi espositivi che col loro elegante ed essenziale design forniscono una cornice ideale alle stampe (unica pecca l’illuminazione, che costringe ad una visione molto ravvicinata e talvolta laboriosa a causa dei riflessi creati dal vetro che riveste le opere incorniciate).

photo credit: artribune.com

Maestri a confronto

La mostra si apre con la sezione dedicata ad Hokusai e alle sue Trentasei vedute del monte Fuji. La raccolta, edita tra il 1831 e il 1833 e giustamente considerata tra i capolavori del Maestro, è appunto dedicata alla montagna simbolo identitario del Giappone, vista da diverse province e nelle diverse stagioni, sempre uguale a se stessa ma al tempo stesso sempre nuova; quasi un esercizio di meditazione, attraverso il quale l’autore tenta di catturare l’essenza stessa del tempo attraverso la rappresentazione della ieratica immobilità del monte, contrapposta alle laboriose attività umane e all’incessante rinnovamento della natura.

Della raccolta fa parte la celeberrima xilografia La grande onda di Kanagawa, che il percorso espositivo accosta sapientemente, in una sorta di ideale passaggio del testimone, all’illustrazione di Hiroshige Il mare a Satta nella provincia di Suruga, realizzata 28 anni dopo quella dell’illustre maestro. La visione delle due opere affiancate permette di cogliere pienamente la cifra artistica dei due autori ed al tempo stesso le loro diversità. Hokusai fa infatti dispiegare orizzontalmente la propria onda, in una sorta di vortice circolare, il cui occhio incornicia il Monte Fuji che appare piccolissimo sullo sfondo, testimone impassibile dell’evento drammatico che si svolge invece in primo piano, rappresentato dall’impari lotta tra la barca dei pescatori e la potenza sovrumana dei flutti.
Hiroshige sceglie invece un formato verticale, che consente alla sua onda di impennarsi verso il cielo e dissolversi in una minuta spuma bianca, dalla quale sembrano quasi trarre origine gli uccelli in volo. Anche qui è presente una barca, ma vista in lontananza mentre solca serenamente un mare pacifico, completando così il quadro di generale armonia creato dagli elementi naturali in perfetto equilibrio tra loro.

La mostra prosegue quindi con un appassionante viaggio nel mondo di Utagawa Hiroshige attraverso diverse sezioni tematiche, rispettivamente intitolate Immagini di Viaggio, Tokaido e Kisokaido; Pesci, Molluschi, Crostacei ed Erbe, e ancora Fiori ed Uccelli; Vedute di Luoghi Lontani; Parodie e Umorismo ed infine le Cento Vedute dei Luoghi Celebri di Edo.

In esse il visitatore può esplorare l’intero universo creativo di quello che è stato giustamente definito “Maestro della pioggia e della neve”, per la straordinaria abilità ed eleganza con le quali rappresenta le diverse condizioni atmosferiche. Tale capacità appare immediatamente evidente nella raccolta Cinquantatre stazioni di posta del Tokaido, la cui esposizione è accompagnata da un ampio apparato didascalico che ben ne illustra il significato storico oltre che artistico.

Tuttavia il talento di Hiroshige non si esaurisce manieristicamente nella sua prodigiosa capacità di rappresentare paesaggi, fiori o animali, costantemente guidato da una sensibilità quasi religiosa nei confronti delle diverse manifestazioni del mondo naturale. Al maestro giapponese va infatti innanzitutto riconosciuto il merito di essere stato un grande innovatore, in grado di rigenerare un filone classico, come quello del paesaggio, attraverso elementi visivi che anticipano caratteristiche che diventeranno in seguito proprie della visione fotografica. Le sue illustrazioni si caratterizzano infatti per il sorprendente taglio fotografico della composizione, fatto di piani sovrapposti in cui elementi di grandi dimensioni posti in primissimo piano catturano lo sguardo dello spettatore, lasciando tutto il resto in piccolo sullo sfondo.


photo credit: artribune.com


photo credit: pinterest.it

Hiroshige e l’Occidente

Lo sguardo fotografico delle opere di Hiroshige, il suo tratto sicuro, le campiture uniformi di colore su aree delimitate da contorni scuri, quasi del tutto prive di sfumature e di effetti chiaroscurali, l’assenza di simmetria, le vedute a volo d’uccello: tutti questi elementi ebbero grande influenza sull’arte di alcuni impressionisti e post-impressionisti del calibro di Manet, Monet, Degas e van Gogh. Essi manifestarono la propria ammirazione assorbendo e rielaborando tali elementi grafici e compositivi o addirittura citandoli esplicitamente, come fa ad esempio Vincent van Gogh, che nel Ritratto di père Tanguy utilizza sei immagini ukiyo-e come sfondo per il suo personaggio.

Risulta quindi particolarmente emozionante per gli amanti dell’Arte poter ammirare nella mostra bolognese stampe come “Ponte di Shin-Ōhashi sotto la pioggia”, “ Susino in fiore” e “All'interno del santuario Kameido Tenjin”, la cui bellezza sedusse van Gogh e Monet al punto da indurli a realizzarne delle copie, seppure reinterpretate secondo la propria cifra personale. Né questo deve stupire, se si pensa che le stampe Ukiyo-e, importate inizialmente in Olanda dalla Compagnia delle Indie, esplosero come fenomeno socio-culturale in Occidente ed in particolare in Francia dopo l’Esposizione Universale del 1885, divenendo un elemento così influente sull’arte e sulla moda dell’epoca da determinare il fenomeno che l'incisore Philippe Burty nel 1873 definì Japonisme (trad. Giapponismo).

All’interno della mostra è possibile vedere per la prima volta anche opere estremamente rare, come i disegni a china preparatori per la produzione delle matrici di legno. Tali disegni venivano infatti distrutti durante il processo di lavorazione delle xilografie ed è quindi un fatto raro e prezioso poter apprezzare attraverso essi il tratto originario del maestro: fluido, sicuro, essenziale, sorprendentemente simile a quello dei più grandi mangaka (disegnatori di manga) contemporanei. Tutto il processo di produzione delle stampe è peraltro visibile in un interessante video, proiettato in una sala apposita, che completa l’apparato didattico dell’esposizione.


photo credit: timesnewromance.art

L’Ukiyo-e: la fugace bellezza del mondo fluttuante

Benchè Hiroshige venisse considerato un artista moderno già dai suoi contemporanei, per le sue innovative composizioni del paesaggio, egli si dedicò anche a filoni dell’Ukiyo-e più tradizionali e maggiormente richiesti dal mercato del tempo, come le scene di vita quotidiana del nascente ceto cittadino nelle località più belle e conosciute del tempo, in particolare Edo (l’attuale Tokyo).

L’ultima sezione della mostra, Cento Vedute dei Luoghi Celebri di Edo, evidenzia il tratto più legato a tale filone, il filo rosso che unisce le diverse creazioni dei maestri della stampa artistica giapponese. L’Ukiyo-e (letteralmente ‘immagini del mondo fluttuante’) è infatti un genere che fiorisce in epoca Edo nel Giappone pacificato e prospero dello shogunato Tokugawa e che risponde al gusto della nascente borghesia cittadina, rappresentando il nuovo stile di vita dei chonin (gente di città), cioè di quegli artigiani e commercianti che grazie alle loro attività detengono ormai il potere economico, mentre l’austera casta samuraica, sempre più burocratizzata e sempre meno guerriera, si occupa di gestire il potere politico.

L’Ukiyo-e è perciò rappresentazione ottimistica di quel “mondo fluttuante”, di quella vita palpitante della città, effimera e di breve durata, che deve essere goduta in una sorta di carpe diem orientale, immergendosi appieno nella sua incessante corrente, in contrapposizione ironica all’ukiyo buddista, che indica il ‘mondo della sofferenza’, il costante ciclo di morte e rinascita terrena da cui il monaco buddista tenta di liberarsi.
Anche in questa rappresentazione della vita della città e dei suoi protagonisti Hiroshige eccelle, donando alle proprie composizioni lo stesso senso di equilibrio ed armonia che pervade le sue raffigurazioni del mondo naturale.

La mostra bolognese rappresenta quindi un’occasione imperdibile per accostarsi ad un genere artistico che da secoli affascina l’Occidente e che non mancherà di conquistare i neofiti, ma anche per approfondire la conoscenza di un mondo magari già noto, grazie ai diversi strumenti messi a disposizione dal progetto. Oltre al vasto corredo informativo presente nell’esposizione, è infatti possibile usufruire di visite guidate tematiche, strutturate sia per le scuole dei diversi ordini e gradi che per il pubblico adulto.

L’iniziativa sarà inoltre completata da un ciclo di eventi speciali e conferenze centrate su diversi aspetti non solo del mondo dell’Ukiyo-e, ma anche della cultura giapponese globalmente intesa. Le modalità di partecipazione ed il calendario completo degli eventi sono consultabili presso il curatissimo sito ufficiale della mostra: www.oltrelonda.it[:en]

The fascinating world of Ukiyo-e on show in Bologna

photo credit: mondomostreskira.it

After the exhibitions in Rome and Milan, the initiatives launched in 2016 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy-Japan bilateral relations continue in Bologna with the wonderful exhibition of Hokusai and Hiroshige titled "HOKUSAI HIROSHIGE. Beyond the wave ". Until March 3, 2019, it is possible to explore at Museo Civico Archeologico the fascinating world of Ukiyo-e - the Japanese art press, the iconic representation of the floating world - through a selection of about 250 works from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, for the first time available in Italy.

The project, excellently curated by Rossella Menegazzo with Sarah E. Thompson and produced by MondoMostre Skira, develops in a very rich path through which the visitor can enjoy an aesthetically refined experience full of contents and insights related to the life and the artistic experience of the two masters.

The audio guides, provided free of charge with the admission ticket, allow the visitor to fully appreciate the artistic significance and historical value of the exhibited works, accompanying the visitor step by step through exhibition spaces that with their elegant and essential design provide an ideal setting for prints (the only flaw is the lighting, which forces to a very close and sometimes laborious vision due to the reflections created by the glass that covers the framed works).

photo credit: artribune.com

Masters comparison

The exhibition opens with a section dedicated to Hokusai and to his thirty-six views of Mount Fuji. The collection, published between 1831 and 1833 and rightly considered one of Master's masterpiece, is dedicated to the mountain, the symbol of identity of Japan, seen by different provinces and in different seasons, always the same and always new. It is an exercise of meditation, through which the author tries to capture the essence of time through the representation of the immobility of the mountain, as opposed to laborious human activities and the incessant renewal of nature.

Part of the collection is the famous woodcut The great wave of Kanagawa. The exhibition approach cleverly combines, in a sort of ideal passage, the great wave of Kanagawa with the Hiroshige’s The Sea in Satta in the province of Suruga, made 28 years after that of famous teacher. The vision of the two works side by side allows the visitor to fully grasp the artistic value of the two authors and at the same time their differences. Hokusai represents his wave horizontally, in a sort of circular vortex, with the Mount Fuji appear very small in the background, impassive witness of the dramatic event that instead takes place in the foreground, represented by the unequal struggle between the boat of the fishermen and the superhuman power of the waves.
Instead, Hiroshige chooses a vertical format, allowing his wave to rise upwards into the sky and dissolve into minute white foam, from which the birds in flight seem to almost originate. Here too there is a boat, seen in the distance while serenely sailing a peaceful sea, thus completing the picture of general harmony created by the natural elements in perfect balance.

The exhibition continues with an exciting journey into the world of Utagawa Hiroshige through various thematic sections titled Travel Images, Tokaido and Kisokaido; Fish, Molluscs, Crustaceans and Herbs, and also Flowers and Birds; Views of Distant Places; Parodies and Humor and finally the Hundred Views of the Famous Places of Edo.

The visitor can explore the entire creative universe rightly called "Master of rain and snow", because of the extraordinary skill and elegance representing the different atmospheric conditions. This ability is immediately evident in the illustrating i its historical as well as artistic significance.

The talent of Hiroshige, constantly guided by an almost religious sensitivity towards the different manifestations of the natural world, is not detected only by his prodigious ability to represent landscapes, flowers or animals. The Japanese master has been a great innovator able to regenerate the classic way of representing the landscape through visual elements anticipating characteristic of the future photographic vision. His illustrations are in fact characterized by the striking photographic cut of the composition, made up of overlapping layers where large elements placed in the foreground capture the viewer's attention, leaving everything else small in the background.


photo credit: artribune.com


photo credit: pinterest.it

Hiroshige and the West

The photographic characteristics of Hiroshige’s works, the firm tract, the uniform color of backgrounds bordered by dark contours, absence of nuances and chiaroscuro effects, lack of symmetry, had great influence on the art of some impressionists and post-impressionists such as Manet, Monet, Degas and van Gogh. They showed their admiration by absorbing and reworking these graphic and elements or even explicitly citing them, as Vincent van Gogh did in the Portrait of père Tanguy using six ukiyo-e images as background for his character.

It is therefore particularly exciting to admire in the Bologna exhibition prints like "Shin-Ōhashi Bridge in the rain", "Susino in bloom" and "Inside the sanctuary Kameido Tenjin", appreciated by van Gogh and Monet to the point of inducing them to make copies, albeit reinterpreted according to their personal figure. Ukiyo-e prints were originally imported in Holland by the India Company and exploded as a socio-cultural phenomenon in the West and in particular in France after the Universal Exhibition of 1885. They became so influencial on the art and fashion of the era to determine the phenomenon that the engraver Philippe Burty in 1873 defined Japonisme.

Inside the exhibition, for the first time, the visitor can see very rare works, such as the Indian ink drawings, preparatory work for the production of wooden matrices. These drawings were in fact destroyed during the woodcutting process and it is therefore a rare and precious fact to be able to appreciate the master's original trait through them: fluid, safe, essential, surprisingly similar to that of the greatest mangakas (contemporary manga designers). The entire production process of the prints is also visible in an interesting video, projected in a special room, which completes the educational steps of the exhibition.


photo credit: timesnewromance.art

Ukiyo-e: the fleeting beauty of the floating world

Hiroshige was considered a modern artist by his contemporaries for his innovative compositions of the landscape. However, he also dedicated himself to the traditional Ukiyo-e more requested by the market of the time, as the scenes of daily life of the nascent town social class in the most beautiful and known places of the time, in particular Edo (the current Tokyo).

The last section of the exhibition, One hundred views of Edo's famous places is the most representative stream, the red thread linking the different creations of the masters of the Japanese art press. The Ukiyo-e ('images of the floating world') is a genre that flourishes in the Edo era in the pacified and prosperous Japan of the Tokugawa shogunate It responds to the taste of the rising city bourgeoisie, representing the new chonin lifestyle ( people of the city), the lifestyle of those artisans and traders who, thanks to their activities, now hold economic power, while the austere samuraic caste, more and more bureaucratized and less warlike, deals with managing political power.

The Ukiyo-e is therefore an optimistic representation of that "floating world", of that palpitating life of the city, ephemeral and of short duration, which must be enjoyed in a sort of oriental carpe diem, plunging fully into its incessant current, in contrast ironic to the Buddhist ukiyo, indicating instead the 'world of suffering', the constant cycle of death and earthly rebirth from which the Buddhist monk tries to free himself.
Also in this representation of the life of the city and its protagonists, Hiroshige excels, giving to his compositions the same sense of balance and harmony that pervades his depictions of the natural world.

The Bolognese exhibition is therefore an unmissable opportunity to approach an artistic genre that has been fascinating the West for centuries and will not fail to conquer the neophytes, as well as to deepen the knowledge of a world maybe already known. In addition to the extensive information in the exhibit, it is in fact possible to take advantage of thematic guided tours, structured both for schools of different orders and degrees and for the adult public.

The initiative is completed by a series of special events and conferences focused on different aspects of the world of Ukiyo-e and of the Japanese culture. The complete calendar of events can be consulted at the official website of the exhibition: www.oltrelonda.it[:ja]

The fascinating world of Ukiyo-e on show in Bologna

photo credit: mondomostreskira.it

After the exhibitions in Rome and Milan, the initiatives launched in 2016 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy-Japan bilateral relations continue in Bologna with the wonderful exhibition of Hokusai and Hiroshige titled "HOKUSAI HIROSHIGE. Beyond the wave ". Until March 3, 2019, it is possible to explore at Museo Civico Archeologico the fascinating world of Ukiyo-e - the Japanese art press, the iconic representation of the floating world - through a selection of about 250 works from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, for the first time available in Italy.

The project, excellently curated by Rossella Menegazzo with Sarah E. Thompson and produced by MondoMostre Skira, develops in a very rich path through which the visitor can enjoy an aesthetically refined experience full of contents and insights related to the life and the artistic experience of the two masters.

The audio guides, provided free of charge with the admission ticket, allow the visitor to fully appreciate the artistic significance and historical value of the exhibited works, accompanying the visitor step by step through exhibition spaces that with their elegant and essential design provide an ideal setting for prints (the only flaw is the lighting, which forces to a very close and sometimes laborious vision due to the reflections created by the glass that covers the framed works).

photo credit: artribune.com

Masters comparison

The exhibition opens with a section dedicated to Hokusai and to his thirty-six views of Mount Fuji. The collection, published between 1831 and 1833 and rightly considered one of Master's masterpiece, is dedicated to the mountain, the symbol of identity of Japan, seen by different provinces and in different seasons, always the same and always new. It is an exercise of meditation, through which the author tries to capture the essence of time through the representation of the immobility of the mountain, as opposed to laborious human activities and the incessant renewal of nature.

Part of the collection is the famous woodcut The great wave of Kanagawa. The exhibition approach cleverly combines, in a sort of ideal passage, the great wave of Kanagawa with the Hiroshige’s The Sea in Satta in the province of Suruga, made 28 years after that of famous teacher. The vision of the two works side by side allows the visitor to fully grasp the artistic value of the two authors and at the same time their differences. Hokusai represents his wave horizontally, in a sort of circular vortex, with the Mount Fuji appear very small in the background, impassive witness of the dramatic event that instead takes place in the foreground, represented by the unequal struggle between the boat of the fishermen and the superhuman power of the waves.
Instead, Hiroshige chooses a vertical format, allowing his wave to rise upwards into the sky and dissolve into minute white foam, from which the birds in flight seem to almost originate. Here too there is a boat, seen in the distance while serenely sailing a peaceful sea, thus completing the picture of general harmony created by the natural elements in perfect balance.

The exhibition continues with an exciting journey into the world of Utagawa Hiroshige through various thematic sections titled Travel Images, Tokaido and Kisokaido; Fish, Molluscs, Crustaceans and Herbs, and also Flowers and Birds; Views of Distant Places; Parodies and Humor and finally the Hundred Views of the Famous Places of Edo.

The visitor can explore the entire creative universe rightly called "Master of rain and snow", because of the extraordinary skill and elegance representing the different atmospheric conditions. This ability is immediately evident in the illustrating i its historical as well as artistic significance.

The talent of Hiroshige, constantly guided by an almost religious sensitivity towards the different manifestations of the natural world, is not detected only by his prodigious ability to represent landscapes, flowers or animals. The Japanese master has been a great innovator able to regenerate the classic way of representing the landscape through visual elements anticipating characteristic of the future photographic vision. His illustrations are in fact characterized by the striking photographic cut of the composition, made up of overlapping layers where large elements placed in the foreground capture the viewer's attention, leaving everything else small in the background.


photo credit: artribune.com


photo credit: pinterest.it

Hiroshige and the West

The photographic characteristics of Hiroshige’s works, the firm tract, the uniform color of backgrounds bordered by dark contours, absence of nuances and chiaroscuro effects, lack of symmetry, had great influence on the art of some impressionists and post-impressionists such as Manet, Monet, Degas and van Gogh. They showed their admiration by absorbing and reworking these graphic and elements or even explicitly citing them, as Vincent van Gogh did in the Portrait of père Tanguy using six ukiyo-e images as background for his character.

It is therefore particularly exciting to admire in the Bologna exhibition prints like "Shin-Ōhashi Bridge in the rain", "Susino in bloom" and "Inside the sanctuary Kameido Tenjin", appreciated by van Gogh and Monet to the point of inducing them to make copies, albeit reinterpreted according to their personal figure. Ukiyo-e prints were originally imported in Holland by the India Company and exploded as a socio-cultural phenomenon in the West and in particular in France after the Universal Exhibition of 1885. They became so influencial on the art and fashion of the era to determine the phenomenon that the engraver Philippe Burty in 1873 defined Japonisme.

Inside the exhibition, for the first time, the visitor can see very rare works, such as the Indian ink drawings, preparatory work for the production of wooden matrices. These drawings were in fact destroyed during the woodcutting process and it is therefore a rare and precious fact to be able to appreciate the master's original trait through them: fluid, safe, essential, surprisingly similar to that of the greatest mangakas (contemporary manga designers). The entire production process of the prints is also visible in an interesting video, projected in a special room, which completes the educational steps of the exhibition.


photo credit: timesnewromance.art

Ukiyo-e: the fleeting beauty of the floating world

Hiroshige was considered a modern artist by his contemporaries for his innovative compositions of the landscape. However, he also dedicated himself to the traditional Ukiyo-e more requested by the market of the time, as the scenes of daily life of the nascent town social class in the most beautiful and known places of the time, in particular Edo (the current Tokyo).

The last section of the exhibition, One hundred views of Edo's famous places is the most representative stream, the red thread linking the different creations of the masters of the Japanese art press. The Ukiyo-e ('images of the floating world') is a genre that flourishes in the Edo era in the pacified and prosperous Japan of the Tokugawa shogunate It responds to the taste of the rising city bourgeoisie, representing the new chonin lifestyle ( people of the city), the lifestyle of those artisans and traders who, thanks to their activities, now hold economic power, while the austere samuraic caste, more and more bureaucratized and less warlike, deals with managing political power.

The Ukiyo-e is therefore an optimistic representation of that "floating world", of that palpitating life of the city, ephemeral and of short duration, which must be enjoyed in a sort of oriental carpe diem, plunging fully into its incessant current, in contrast ironic to the Buddhist ukiyo, indicating instead the 'world of suffering', the constant cycle of death and earthly rebirth from which the Buddhist monk tries to free himself.
Also in this representation of the life of the city and its protagonists, Hiroshige excels, giving to his compositions the same sense of balance and harmony that pervades his depictions of the natural world.

The Bolognese exhibition is therefore an unmissable opportunity to approach an artistic genre that has been fascinating the West for centuries and will not fail to conquer the neophytes, as well as to deepen the knowledge of a world maybe already known. In addition to the extensive information in the exhibit, it is in fact possible to take advantage of thematic guided tours, structured both for schools of different orders and degrees and for the adult public.

The initiative is completed by a series of special events and conferences focused on different aspects of the world of Ukiyo-e and of the Japanese culture. The complete calendar of events can be consulted at the official website of the exhibition: www.oltrelonda.it[:]