We went to a great show at the Nezu Museum in Tokyo, to see the work of 17th century brothers Korin and Kenzan. These two, and the movement they heralded in Japanese art called Rimpa, have always been a favorite of mine. Brother Kōrin was a painter, and Kenzan was a ceramics artist and a painter as well (Kōrin was a professional painter while Kenzan excelled at ceramic arts and favored the more simple, naive school of literati style painting). They collaborated on many occasions; a common theme in Rimpa (really all Japanese art) are scenes depicting the seasons. A favorite on view was a pair of folding screens of irises, rich and bold and beautiful, painted atop gold leaf.
A much smaller rendering of the same theme can be found in Kenzan’s version, on a ceramic plate, equally beautiful in its own right.
Note the kintsugi, (金継ぎ, literally “golden joinery”) on the front edge of the plate, which are repairs made with gold dust and lacquer
We walked out into the garden after viewing the exhibition, and I about swooned when I saw the irises that were in full bloom by the hundreds – I might not be exaggerating to say a thousand or more, luminous and shocking. It’s hard to convey this experience in a photograph. Somehow we arrived at just the right moment for this flamboyant show of color:
After I recovered from the shock of all that purple in front of me, we strolled through the rest of the garden, a true oasis from the big bossy city of Tokyo.
Although the Nezu garden is clearly a Japanese garden, to my eyes it is a bit denser and richer than most. There is a riot of texture the way the trees and leaves merge together.
It might be one of my favorite gardens here (today, anyway).