Join the Japanese Arts Council!

The Four Sleepers

Tsunemasa, The Four Sleepers, Japan, c. 1745, Ink, color and gold pigment on paper, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kamansky, 1988.65.2

Here at Pacific Asia Museum, we have a number of member-led Arts Councils that focus on particular regions and cultures (learn more about them here). All members at the Lotus level and above are eligible to join our Arts Councils, and groups like the Chinese Arts Council and Pakistan Arts Council have been active in supporting the museum’s exhibitions and programs through fundraising and  volunteering while enjoying private tours, field trips and more. We’re excited to announce that starting in September, the Japanese Arts Council will begin meeting regularly once again under new president Maureen Nyhan. An independent scholar and Pacific Asia Museum docent, Maureen earned a degree in Japanese Language and Culture from San Francisco State University and continues to learn and share her love of Japanese art and culture at the museum today.

The Japanese Arts Council will kick off on September 21 at 11 a.m.  with an informal presentation by Maureen on Kazunobu’s celebrated paintings of the lives of the Buddha’s 500 disciples, recently exhibited at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. All eligible members interested in learning more about the Council is encouraged to attend. Following the September meeting, the Council will gather regularly to enjoy members-only cultural lectures, food, field trips, collector “show and tells” as well as work together on projects in support of Japanese art and culture at Pacific Asia Museum.

Supernatural Powers, Five Hundred Arhats: Scroll 57. By Kano Kazunobu (1816‐63), Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1854‐63. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk. Photo: Collection: Zōjōji, Tokyo, Japan.

On September 21, Maureen will give a presentation of the 500 rakan (arhat) exhibition Masters of Mercy that traveled to the Freer Sackler Museum, Washington DC in 2012 after being on display in Tokyo. From 1854 until his death in 1863, Japanese artist Kano Kazunobu (born 1816) labored to produce one hundred paintings depicting the miraculous interventions and superhuman activities of the five hundred disciples of the Buddha. The project was commissioned by Zōjōji, an elite Pure Land Buddhist temple in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Now widely regarded as one of the most impressive feats of Buddhist iconography created during the Edo period (1615–1868), this remarkable ensemble was largely overlooked through much of the twentieth century.

A revival of interest began in the 1980s and culminated in a major exhibition in Tokyo in spring 2011, held to commemorate the eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of Hōnen (1133–1212), founder of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. Zōjōji collaborated with the Edo-Tokyo Museum and noted scholars to produce the exhibition, which featured all one hundred paintings along with related works and documentary material. The whole ensemble had not been viewed publicly since World War II.

Lovers of Japanese art and culture won’t want to miss this fascinating presentation and the chance to learn more about the Japanese Arts Council. For more information, visit our website.

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