2012 Thru Sept 3: Cherry blossom theme prints exhibition at Norton Simon Museum

 Norton Simon Hiroshige Noto Cherry Blossom

Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858) Noto Province, Waterfall Bay, from the Famous Views of the (Sixty-odd) Provinces series, 1856. Color woodblock print, vertical ōban (Collection of Norton Simon Museum)

Norton Sion Museum

Lessons of the Cherry Blossom: Japanese Woodblock Prints

April 20, 2012 – September 03, 2012

In 1912, over 3,000 cherry trees were bestowed upon Washington, D.C., by Tokyo in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan.

The trees were planted along the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, where they continue to be admired every spring during cherry–blossom season.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of this diplomatic gift, the Norton Simon Museum presents Lessons of the Cherry Blossom: Japanese Woodblock Prints.

The exhibition features 16 prints from the Museum’s permanent collection, several of which have not been on view before, including three rare sets of uncut double prints by Utagawa Hiroshige and works by Totoya Hokkei and Chōbunsai Eishi.

Two prints from Katsushika Hokusai’s Rare Views of Famous Bridges series, which have been in storage for over 30 years, are also being exhibited.

Related programs

Eternal Transience: Cherry Blossoms in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Date : Saturday, April 28, 2012
Time : 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Speaker : Dr. Kendall Brown, Professor of Asian Art History, Department of Art, California State University, Long Beach
Type : Lecture

Cherry blossoms, perennial topics in Japanese poetry and motifs in Japanese design, were popular subjects in Japanese woodblock prints.

Cherries are pictured in the contexts of illustrated poetry anthologies and genre scenes of merrymaking. This lecture traces the types and functions of cherry prints from the lyrical to the scientific, culminating with dual associations in the mid-20th century of cherry blossoms as symbols of wishes for peace and of glorious death in war.

(Presented in the Museum’s theater. Stickers for ensured seating will be distributed starting at 3:00 pm)


Dreams of the Floating Life: Kabuki Dramas

Date : Friday, May 11, 2012
Time : 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Host : Nakamura Gankyo of the U.S. Kabuki Ken Kyu Kai
Type : Dance Performance

In commemoration of the centennial of the gift of over 3,000 cherry trees from Japan to the United States, and in conjunction with the exhibition Lessons of the Cherry Blossom: Japanese Woodblock Prints, the Museum presents Dreams of the Floating Life: Kabuki Dramas.

Nakamura Gankyo of the U.S. Kabuki Ken Kyu Kai performs two Edo-period (1615–1868) Kabuki dance dramas: Onatsu kyoran and Echigo Jishi.

Onatsu kyoran (Plight of Onatsu) is based on a 17th-century story about the forbidden romance between Seijuro, a lowly store clerk, and Onatsu, the storekeeper’s daughter.

Echigo Jishi (Lion of Echigo) is an upbeat dance drama showcasing shishi mai (lion dances) and the Japanese version of tap dance, in which performers wear ippon-geta (wooden-riser clogs).

The performances are accompanied by a nagauta music ensemble, featuring Kineya Yasoyo II and Katada Kikusa.


Norton Simon Museum of Art is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105-1825, (626) 449-6840. www.nortonsimon.org

Closed Tuesdays. $10 for general admission. Admission is free for all visitors the first Friday of every month from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.