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Pleasures and Pastimes in Japanese Art

January 9, 2010 - January 2011

From classical Noh theater to poetry competitions to the joys of fishing, the pleasures and pastimes depicted in Japanese art are many and varied. This exhibition features masks and gorgeous costumes of the Noh theater as well as libretti and musical instruments that accompany the Noh performances. In contrast to this pastime of the nobility, anyone can partake of the pleasures of fishing, making it a favorite subject, both in scroll paintings and on ceramics and lacquer.

The arts related to the tea ceremony form a strong thread of tradition that survives to the present day, including flower arranging (ikebana), incense games, and the pleasures of gourmet food and drink. Another favored beverage of the Japanese is sake; some of the most beautiful ceramic vessels relate to the enjoyment of this rice wine. Whether inspired by tea or by wine, the writing of poetry has long been an avocation aspired to by all. An ancient card game, based on one hundred classical poems, is played in celebration of the New Year; a set of these cards will be in the exhibition.

Main Building


Felice Fischer, The Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art

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