Hidden Treasures

Art from the Embassy of Japan

Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Along the halls of the Embassy’s Residences and Chancery are more than 150 pieces, rarely available to the public, representing many facets of Japanese art — from ceramics, to paintings and prints, to calligraphy and sculpture. Here we highlight just a few of the many artists represented in the collection.

Tokuda Family

The Tokuda family, based in Komatsu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, is one of the leading families of Kutani ceramicists, inheriting and redefining a tradition that goes back several hundred years.

Dawn - Bowl with Vivid Glazes by TOKUDA Yasokichi IIIJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Tokuda Yasokichi

The first-generation artist, Tokuda Yasokichi I (1873-1956), is recognized for reviving many of the unique colors and traditional glazes from the early period of Kutani ware production in the 17th century, referred to as Ko-Kutani or “Old Kutani.”

Exquisite Colors

This bowl, entitled Dawn, projects a deep purple from its center, morphing as it moves upward to become red, yellow, and then white.

Decorative Kutani Dish by TOKUDA Yasokichi IIJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Tokuda Yasokichi II

The amber-colored glaze along the outer rim of this piece is embellished with a dark amber linear design encircling a deep green center adorned with cherry blossoms. It is a piece that honors traditional techniques while also conveying a spirited, fresh aesthetic.

Ancient Red Fuji – Bowl with Colored Glazes by TOKUDA Yasokichi IVJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Tokuda Yasokichi IV

This is a piece by Tokuda Yasokichi IV, the eldest daughter of Living National Treasure Tokuda Yasokichi III. She succeeded her father and carries on the Tokuda family ceramic tradition to this day.

Higashiyama Kaii

HIGASHIYAMA Kaii was born in 1908 in Kanagawa Prefecture. He is known as one of Japan’s representative nihonga artists of the Shōwa era (1926-1989). His work has been described as tranquil and deeply reflective.

The Sound of Waves The Sound of Waves by TōseiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Though Higashiyama is well known for his numerous landscape paintings, his most famous work is a set of decorated sliding doors commissioned by the Tōshōdai-ji Temple in Nara, featured in its Mieidō Hall.

The Sound of Waves Second panelJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

This collection consists of reduced-scale prints that are a faithful recreation of the original paintings by Higashiyama.

The Sound of Waves Third panelJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

The original artwork can be found on the sliding doors of the Mieidō Hall at Tōshōdai-ji Temple in Nara.

The Sound of Waves Fourth panelJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Mountain Fog, HIGASHIYAMA Kaii, 1977, From the collection of: Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States
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Clouds Rising Over the Mountains, Sanrei Yū’un, From the collection of: Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States
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Toad Lilies by OGURA YukiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Ogura Yuki

This piece by Ogura has a pale blue background painted over a light platinum foil, creating a deep hue with a subtle luster. The tall, amply glazed vase holds an exquisite arrangement of these beautiful flowers stretching across the canvas.

HIRATSUKA Un’ichi

Chita Peninsula (Iwaya-dera Temple Scripture House) (1940) by HIRATSUKA Un’ichiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Hiratsuka Un’ichi

Hiratsuka Un’ichi was an important representative of the sōsaku-hanga, “creative print,” movement. He was its first member to teach printmaking as a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, one of Japan’s most prestigious art schools. 

Cherry Blossoms by HIRATSUKA Un’ichiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Life in Washington D.C.

Hiratsuka moved to Washington, D.C. during his career, and lived there for many decades. A number of his works depict scenes from the area, including the piece here entitled Cherry Blossoms, which shows a view of the Potomac River.

Sugiyama Yasushi

At the time of his debut, Sugiyama Yasushi was described as an outstanding talent bursting onto the art scene. His artistic skills enabled him to perfectly capture his subject matter.

Waving Wings (1977) by SUGIYAMA YasushiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Natural World's Mysteries

This painting, produced when Sugiyama was 68, depicts the moment just before two Japanese cranes land on frozen earth.

Lucky Omen (1962) by HIRAYAMA IkuoJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Hirayama Ikuo

This piece (Lucky Omen), created in 1962, is not directly tied to a Buddhist theme, but nevertheless conjures a certain mysterious spirituality through its imagery — a flock of doves passing across a rising, dark, and backlit pagoda. 

Jōruri-ji Temple (1971) by HIRAYAMA IkuoJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Illusion of Light

In this piece, light radiates from Jōruri-ji Temple in the dim early evening, revealing a beautiful Jōdo-shiki, or Pure Land, garden. The light from the main hall is reminiscent of the arrival of Amida Buddha. Hirayama painted this image over a base layer of gold. 

The Tale of Genji by TAKATORI WakanariJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Takatori Wakanari

Set in the world of The Tale of Genji, this work is a brilliant and colorful depiction of the life of the aristocracy at the end of the Heian period (794-1185).

According to the patterns, the ladies in the lower portion of the painting are of the highest class,

while the couple towards the upper corner is a rank lower.

Integrity by KAJIURA ItsugaiJapan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan in the United States

Kajiura Itsugai

In this calligraphic work, Kajiura has written the kanji for “jikishin,” meaning “integrity.” This same scroll contains a second phrase, “kore-dōjō,” written by Hōunsai, the 15th head of the Urasenke tea school.

We hope that our viewers gain a new perspective on Japan’s culture from these pieces, and are inspired to step deeper into the world of Japanese art.

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