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emd Jul 20th, 2005 06:09 PM

Hiroshige and woodblock fans/D.C. exhibit
For any of you who are into woodblocks or are into Hiroshige and might be in the Washington D.C. area in next few months, you might want to check out the exhibit at the Phillips Collection (a great small gallery in Dupont Circle of D.C.) for their current exhibition of the Hiroshige woodblocks of the 53 Stations of the Tokaido. The gallery has on loan every one of the 57 station woodblocks from a private collector in Japan. This is a rare exhibit in the U.S. No need to elaborate on Hiroshige, as his unique perspectives speak for themselves, but you might want to try to make this if you are in D.C. On Thurs. evenings the Phillips is open late and they have special events, like this week a tea ceremony, origami exhibit and a presentation on how woodblocks are made. Check their website.

mrwunrfl Jul 20th, 2005 06:32 PM

Thanks emd.

Florence Jul 21st, 2005 12:06 AM

All (or at least quite a lot of) what you've ever dreamed to know about woodblock prints:

most links in English.

mrwunrfl Jul 24th, 2005 05:10 PM

emd, please report on your visit

emd Aug 14th, 2005 06:52 PM

Ok, mrwunrfl, you asked for it, you got it.

My daughter and I stayed at the Weston Grand in D.C. last night. The big event was the Hiroshige exhibit but we played tourists and did some other fun things also. The Hiroshige exhibit was very good. Not excellent, but very good. I personally like the Phillips very much, as it is an intimate art space, not overwhelming like many D.C. museums. The woodblocks were great. My favorite was Station 18. I really enjoyed seeing how Hiroshige reflected the social nature of Japan at the time in his art- different ways that people of different social classes got across the rivers, how the people related to each other, etc. I also enjoyed the nature in his art and how he blended it into the scenes. If you are familiar with his work you will know what I mean. Sometimes he uses definitive lines w/ the mountains, trees, etc., and sometimes he blends it into the backdrop and focuses your attention more on the people. I love his work. The prints had more blue than I thought they would have. The details in his woodblocks are just phenomenal.
This exhibit made me very happy that people here have recommended a stay at the Ichinoya, which Hiroshige painted. I have already contacted them, but it is too early for reservations for our stay next spring, so I have it on the calendar to reserve in the fall.
A few disappointing aspects of the exhibit...foremost, there was no exhibit catalog done! I really was hoping for a complete catalog off all the Stations. I guess this had to do with the royalties that the Phillips might have to pay the private collector who loaned all of the prints for the exhibit. Also, the Stations were not in order. I am a methodical thinker, and I would have enjoyed seeing the Stations from #1 (Edo) to the end in Kyoto. But the Phillips chose to exhibit them completely out of order. For those of us who are Edo-period geographically challenged (me) this made it difficult to follow what point on the Road each print represented. Also, the Phillips tried to mix Hiroshige's prints with western art pieces that supposedly reflect his influence. We mostly ignored the western pieces, and only once did we see the Hiroshige inspiration in one of the western pieces.
I must add that we had a great dinner Sat. night at Mimi's in Dupont Circle, where the waiter staff are all singers and performed show tunes while we ate. Also, after the Phillips we went around the corner to Teaism on R. St., a nice Japanese tea place where we tried a few great teas and had good bento boxes for lunch.
Oh, and the Phillips had a nice assortment of traditional Japanese music CDs in the gift shop, so I am now the happy owner of 3 more koto and other Japanese instrument CDs.

Lyndie Aug 15th, 2005 12:35 AM

There is a fabulous woodblock carver in Takayama. I've misplaced his card but will locate it, I'm sure. He does the most fabulous trout and salmon I have ever seen. Quite pricey (for us Aussies)at around US800-US1200 for one fish, but beautiful art.

emd-have you eaten at City lights of China restaurant? It's our favourite restaurant in DC. It is near to the Australian embassy. Oh, we had a couple of really great nights there!

Thank you for the nice post. All the best!

emd Aug 15th, 2005 03:37 AM

I need to clarify, as I do not want to give out misinformation. Actually #1 would not be Edo. If you count Edo and Kyoto, there are 55 Stations. Although Hiroshige did woodblocks of Edo and Kyoto, they are not considered part of the 53 stations.

mrwunrfl Aug 15th, 2005 05:59 AM

Thanks, Eileen. I am going to try to make it to this exhibit before I leave.

mrwunrfl Aug 15th, 2005 06:06 AM

How was the Westin? Is it close to the Phillips? Got an offer to qualify for SPG Gold on 5 stays and might try to make it though I am not sure of the benefit yet.

emd Aug 15th, 2005 07:09 AM

I got an email offer for a $119 summer promotion rate at the Westin Grand on M St.-- included valet parking. Upgraded for $20 to the "Westin exercise room" that had either a bike or treadmill in the room (we got the bike and each rode many miles), medicine ball, big inflatable yoga ball, yoga mat, jumproap. The outdoor pool was very very nice- it is covered by a wooden pagoda type top that lets in some sun but not much, and it is surrounded by big buildings which blocked the sun more (good for us). Nice modern decor room, nice marble bath w/separate shower. But look into the Westin Embassy Row which is directly across the st. from the Phillips -- they also have the summer promo rates and more classic style rms. I didn't realize it was right across the St. and it would have saved us some cab fare, but we wanted the pool at the Grand anyway. We also went to see Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center Sun. night, which was a fun evening. I think "Hairspray" is also there now, and we would have seen it but we had already seen it on Broadway. It was so darn hot on Sunday that we hung out at the pool and went to Georgetown Park to shop and escape the heat.
BTW- there is a nice little japanese shop on Conn. Ave, just across Conn. Ave. from Teaism. We stopped and got folding fans in there and a few other Japanese treats to eat.

emd Aug 15th, 2005 07:13 AM

If you decide not to go on a weekend, check out the Phillip's websites as on Thurs. evening they have good talks and events on Hiroshige and Japan-related things, free w/the admission. This Thurs. night it is on how Hiroshige reflected the political and social nature of his times through his woodblocks.
Try to go when this heat wave is over. The Phillips was warm inside on Sun. It's an old converted house and the exhibit rooms are upstairs. There were alot of Japanese people there although it was not crowded.

emd Aug 15th, 2005 07:19 AM

And do get the gold starwood if possible, if you stay at Starwood hotels. You get a 50% bonus on points for every stay. And good upgrades (many times to club level)and 4 pm checkout. This is how I funded my 13 hotel nights in Japan last year- the credit card and 50% points add up. I do stay in them for business trips whenever possible.

kappa Aug 15th, 2005 07:34 AM


The departure point (the first of the 53)is Nihonbashi-Bridge/EDO (top left on the following site) and the last (53rd or 55th) is Sanjo-ôhashi Bridge/Kyoto (top right). I wrote 53rd OR 55th because on the following site is said "2 stops - Kusatsu and Kameyama - are omitted here.). The Hiroshige's work is known as "Tokaido 53 Tsugi (stations)" but were there actually 55 images? I will have to do a search.

kappa Aug 15th, 2005 07:42 AM

Now I know. It is called "Tokaido 53 Stations" considering there are 53 stops between Edo and Kyoto but there actually are 55 images including No1 Nihonbashi/Edo and No55 Sanjo-ôhashi/Kyoto.

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