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Japanese art and Yuzo Saeki: the “outsider” who died in a distant land in an insane asylum

Japanese art and Yuzo Saeki: the “outsider” who died in a distant land in an insane asylum

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist Yuzo Saeki gave much to the Japanese art world despite dying at the age of 30. Yuzo Saeki was born in 1898 and passed away in 1928. However, despite his time on this earth being brief he did much and left an intriguing legacy which also applies to areas outside of art. This applies to the way he was “thrown to the wolves” while feeling entrapped by health problems, cultural factors, and being abandoned by a culture which did not love him back.

In many ways, Yuzo Saeki represents the “outsider” which resides in all nations throughout the world, and within nations where the marginalized are unloved. Also, he highlights the complexity of culture and how individuals may adore aspects of a new culture – but this “new culture” isn’t able to respond in kind. Therefore, the society that abandoned him was the French culture that he admired and desired to belong. However, he always remained to be the “outsider” in a country which inspired him and pulled away at his tormented soul.

Yuzo Saeki provides a genuine glimpse into the “real separation” of “a love affair” which refused to acknowledge his deep love of Paris and France. This applies to many art pieces whereby the distance from his vantage point is noticeable by the confused lettering of certain places he depicted. Also, the manic and confused lines within some of his art may denote all the inner-confusions and utter desperation that he felt at times. Despite this, and being in extremely poor health, he could not pull himself away from a culture which inspired him to create stunning pieces of art.

Yuzo Saeki was born in the vibrant city of Osaka and from a very early age he fell in love with art. The Buddhist faith ran through his veins when a child because his father was a Buddhist priest. On top of this was the changing nature of Japanese society which also swept away many traditions and depleted many rich trades. In this sense, modernization in both France and Japan was ripping many lives apart. Yet, on the other hand both societies were providing new opportunities.

The Meiji and Taisho periods in Japan were full of mass contradictions because on the one hand a new modern dynamic was part and parcel of the “new” Japan. Opposite to this, was a new nationalist period whereby Japan would join “the Western club” and “Islamic club” of colonialism. Amidst all these contradictions was a very talented artist called Yuzo Saeki who meant no negative things towards anyone. Instead, he just wanted to focus on the vocation that he adored. Sadly, life is never that simple for some individuals and ultimately his vocation also created great suffering for Yuzo Saeki.

Western art in Japan was provided with a small “window” in Nagasaki by the Dutch during the Edo period. However, in the period of Yuzo Saeki no other city was more vibrant than Paris when it came to new art movements. The old world of influence from China and Korea was on the wane for many artists and the same applies to the rich traditions of Japanese art. Therefore, the pull of Western art was extremely strong for Yuzo Saeki and in time Paris and France would become “a love affair” with “a poison chalice.”

It must be stated that many other Japanese artists didn’t suffer the same fate in France. Given this, it is clear that the deep passion within Yuzo Saeki was extremely unique but what tipped everything in the wrong direction near the end, applies to the tragic circumstances of his life. This notably applies to poor health; poverty; alienation in a country he adored; mental exhaustion because he could feel “the gates of death beckoning;” isolation; and trapped by his own “love affair” with a culture which was alien to him despite being familiar with France.

In an earlier article I state that all “…these negatives conspired together because at the age of 30 Yuzo Saeki died in destitution in a mental hospital in France. The culmination of tuberculosis, a nervous breakdown brought on by overwork, limited means to survive, still painting outside despite worsening health conditions and other factors; all led to a very sad ending of what should have been a bright future.”

It is easy to imagine Yuzo Saeki eating inadequately based on poverty while at the same time coughing up blood because of tuberculosis. Near the end he manically painted new pieces of art because he felt “the gates of death.” Therefore, even when the weather was negative he continued to paint while bringing up blood would have interrupted him from time to time.

This meant that the reality of different thought-patterns, diverse movements within the respective art scenes of both France and Japan, and other complex factors, could easily “swallow up” individuals who were beset by various issues. Given this, when Yuzo Saeki needed guidance and support he had nobody to help him in a distant land. His “moment in time” was very different to the norms of the art scene in Paris and different cultural factors meant that he was isolated internally.

The final year alone in France was a far cry from 1924 when he moved to this nation with his wife and young daughter. Then he at least had the home comforts to placate the other “love affair” which didn’t love him back.

Michael Brenson commented in the New York Times that “When European art began to question its own traditions, however, as it did increasingly during and after World War I, there was a potential for trouble. Artists could find themselves with neither a European tradition to learn from nor a Japanese tradition to hold onto. When Saeki Yuzo, who is perceived in his country as a tragic hero, the Japanese van Gogh, died at the age of 30 in an insane asylum in Paris in 1928 – perhaps a suicide – he had been trying to paint in this void. Saeki continues to be an example to Japanese artists abroad of the difficulties in reconciling East and West…His paintings reflect his isolation. His cafe windows and stores are filled with signs, some illegible. In his “Snowy Landscape,” figures are on the verge of illegibility. His signs seem like scars of an internal pressure to resolve a conflict between the independence and picturesque subject matter of Paris and a dependence upon his native calligraphic and woodcut tradition.”

The comments made by Michael Brenson are extremely illuminating because it paints a picture of an artist who is trapped by the cultural realities of both nations. At the same time, he appears to notice his isolation and withdraws from a distance whereby the signs are often illegible. However, it is not only the signs which sometimes become illegible because also the human form enters a dark and sinister world where the scars of life are all too real.

Yuzo Saeki also highlights the “outsider” who never can belong despite his love of the host nation. This shared experience can be felt by individuals throughout the world who often feel the same pressure and isolation. Often, it may not always be the host nation because much can depend on cultural differences and certain “norms” which clash strongly in some cultures.

However, with the visible signs of tuberculosis, the mental strains of creating more art pieces because of the knowledge that death was getting nearer, and the grind of daily poverty pulling away at him; it is clear that nobody stepped in . Therefore, not one single individual in Paris cared enough to help Yuzo Saeki to the full. This culminated in the sad reality that his passionate “love affair” was one way because in his “time of need” he was abandoned to the ravages that befell him.

In the end Yuzo Saeki sacrificed his life and his family because he died based on the factors that entrapped him and took away his life. This applies to tuberculosis, poverty, and suffering from a mental breakdown. Michael Brenson also hints that he may have committed suicide in the end. However, the fact that this is debatable highlights the reality that Yuzo Saeki had been “thrown to the wolves.” Therefore, near the end he was just “another number” who was unloved and who died in an insane asylum in a distant land.

 

http://www.art.com/gallery/id–a228566/yuzo-saeki-posters.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/25/arts/when-japan-s-art-opened-to-western-winds.html

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fa20070301a1.html

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Alfred Sisley and Fujishima Takeji: Art, Impressionism and the Paris connection

Alfred Sisley and Fujishima Takeji: Art, Impressionism and the Paris connection

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Alfred Sisley and Fujishima Takeji were both born in the nineteenth century and their common factors apply to the stunning art they produced and the richness of Paris which influenced both artists. They both also studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris in France.  However, the generational gap meant that both individuals studied at this important institution at different periods.

Fujishima Takeji (1867-1943) and Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) may have been born in two very different parts of the world but the Paris connection brought them together in the artistic sense. Alfred Sisley retained his British citizenship throughout his life despite being born in Paris and residing mainly in France. Therefore, Alfred Sisley was firmly based in Europe while Fujishima Takeji understood the diverse complexities of both Japanese art and European art.

However, Alfred Sisley would have connected with the birth place of Fujishima Takeji because he was born in Kagoshima. The reason for the connection applies to the countryside which meant so much to Alfred Sisley who adored landscape art. This also is another common theme shared by both exquisite artists.  The same also applies to Impressionism which meant so much to both artist but for Alfred Sisley the power ofImpressionist landscape was much deeper.

The stunning Impressionist landscape art of Alfred Sisley amazingly appears to be massively underrated when it comes to the fame of his name. Of course, for people who adore Impressionist art and art in general, then Alfred Sisley will be known to many. However, even within the art world his name doesn’t spring to mind when compared with other Impressionist artists. This is extremely surprising because he produced many sublime pieces of art which strikingly standout.

One important difference between Fujishima Takeji and Alfred Sisley is that Alfred Sisley never left the path ofImpressionist landscape art. Impressionism meant the world to Alfred Sisley. However, for Fujishima Takeji the influence of Japanese art and searching for new ideas meant that other art movements were equally important.

Fujishima Takeji had originally started studying traditional Japanese painting when he relocated to Tokyo in 1884. During this period he studied under Gyokusho Kawabata and prior to this he had learnt brush stroke techniques under Togaku Hirayama. However, the lore of Western art appealed greatly to Fujishima Takeji therefore he soon changed his art direction and focused on Western-style paintings. He was lucky enough to study under Hosui Yamamoto and Yukihiko Soyama when he made this transition and it soon became apparent that Fujishima Takeji had taken the right path.

Outside of Japan Fujishima Takeji became known for his importance in focusing on and developingRomanticism and Impressionism which graced the Japanese art scene called yoga (Western-style). This change of direction would also witness Fujishima Takeji becoming influenced by Art Nouveau. Yet despite the many influences it was the yoga path which became instrumental to him by the mid-1880s. Great credit for enhancing his abundant talent must be given to Hosui Yamamoto and Yukihiko Soyama for their expert guidance.

Ironically, the industrialization and innovation of the Meiji Restoration (1868) meant that new opportunities were occurring within all strata’s of society. This enabled many Japanese artists to focus on new art forms and to free their minds whereby many paths were open to talented artists outside of the traditional art forms of Japan. However, for Alfred Sisley his stunning art bypassed the power of industrialization and instead it would appear that nature was in the ascendancy. This was also done without any political or romantic bias because everything seemed so natural and this is the beauty of Alfred Sisley.

Another different aspect to the lives of Fujishima Takeji and Alfred Sisley applies to material wealth and certainty. Alfred Sisley was born into a wealthy family but after the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war, everything changed because poverty and challenging times would now become the norm. In this sense, Fujishima Takeji overcomes material obstacles because his later life was extremely stable when it came to financial matters. However, for Alfred Sisley this area remained problematic for him despite having wealthy patrons which enabled him to travel to Britain from time to time.

Despite poverty remaining with the Sisley family this never dampened his spirit and love of Impressionism. Therefore, he rose above everything and continued to produce stunning landscapes throughout his remaining years on this earth. Also, when the Sisley family moved away from Paris and relocated near to the forest of Fontainebleau, this decision turned out to be very fruitful because it suited his style of art. Given this, Alfred Sisley became refreshed by the surrounding environment because he did not need the trappings of major cities by this stage in his life.

Meanwhile the life of Fujishima Takeji in the 1880s was given a huge boost by the novelist and art critic, Ogai Mori. This applies to the fact that Ogai Mori was highly respected and well connected. Therefore, Fujishima Takeji was now moving in the right circles and he clearly utilized all the wisdom and skills that he had learnt from Togaku Hirayama.

The Marubeni Art Collection states that “In 1905, Fujishima traveled to Europe and studied under Fernand Cormon at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris in France and Carolus-Duran, President of the Academie de France in Italy. Cormon’s speciality was historical paintings, while Duran excelled in portraiture.”

This meant that Fujishima Takeji also studied at the same institution and while Alfred Sisley had sadly passed away in 1899, his spirit and the power of the art he produced remained strong. Therefore, the same art institution and the trappings of Paris will have been felt richly for both stunning and gifted artists. The meaning of the art institution and their time in Paris will have meant different things. However, certain connections will have flowed in their veins even if the outcome was different for both individuals.

The Marubeni Art Collection continues by stating that “On his return, in 1910, Fujishima was nominated Professor of Tokyo Art School and became a member of the Imperial Art Academy (the Teikoku Bijutsu-in), as well as a member of the jury for its exhibitions, known in abbreviations at the Tei-ten. In 1937, he received the very first Order of Culture (Bunka Kunsho), a decoration given by the Government to those who have contributed greatly to the development of art, science and other fields of culture, along with Saburosuke Okada.”

Overall, the beauty of the art work of Alfred Sisley and Fujishima Takeji is abundantly clear when you view their most famous pieces of art. Certain flows of history and important circles naturally entered both of their respective worlds irrespective if the outcome was different. These two amazing artists have left a rich legacy and both need to be studied more in the modern period because of the richness of the art they both produced.

 

http://www.alfredsisley.org

http://www.vincentvangoghclaudemonet.org/artist/Fujishima_takeji.html

Image 1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15 are pieces of art by Alfred Sisley and number 2-4-6-8-10-12-14 are art pieces by Fujishima Takeji.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Tokyo fashion and the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku: the vibes of Omohara

Tokyo fashion and the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku: the vibes of Omohara

Sarah Deschamps, Michel Lebon and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku which is being dubbed “Omohara” opened last month on the location of the former Gap store which was iconic because of the prime location. This is good news for fashion in this vibrant and internationally famous part of Tokyo. Therefore, along with other famous fashion stores including Laforet Harajuku and Omotesando Hills, this new entity will enhance the already buzzing fashion scene of both districts.

Also, while the new original name of Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is a little long the name itself does hit an important theme. This applies to fusing the powerful names of Harajuku and Omotesando and having a place which meets both. Given this, the Omohara dubbed name is fitting because it highlights the interconnection and vibrancy of both amazing districts.

The architecture of the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is iconic in itself from the inside and this applies to layout, space, angles, views, and so forth. Similarly, the Omotesando Hills shopping mall is also extremely stunning when it comes to architecture, the angles being used within the design, the lighting while shopping, and this is matched by the amazing boutiques inside. The designs and space of both are extremely different but collectively they are showing the buzzing nature of Tokyo fashion whereby the environmental angle and architecture is equally important.

Hiroshi Nakamura designed the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku and clearly he had a hefty burden weighing on him because of the prime location and expectations. However, while the outside may not look visually sparkling the same can’t be said for the layout and style within the complex. Therefore, the new Omohara will not disappoint once individuals delve within this stylish complex because you have many gems which highlight the skills of the architect.

The name Omohara fits well with many Tokyoites who adore this trendy part of Tokyo. After all, from the kawaii culture of Harajuku and alternative fashion styles, to the backstreets of both districts where the casual scene is powerful, it is clear that both districts interact well. The other angle of high end fashion and internationally famous boutiques in Omotesando means that the entire area is a hotbed of different fashion vibes. This in itself means that Omohara can blend the best of all these different fashion worlds by incorporating not only the name, but a feeling that all co-exist and for this reason the name is a winner – albeit, in its newly dubbed name of Omohara.

The Jingumae crossing, just like the crossing in Shibuya, is a place which opens up the amazing fashion and cultural vibes of this part of Tokyo. Therefore, the Jingumae crossing is where the districts of Harajuku and Omotesando intersect and clearly this was a powerful motive behind the name.

Fashion companies within Omohara include The Shel’tter Tokyo, Charms, American Eagle Outfitters, Amo’s Style by Triumph, Tommy Hilfiger, Cheek by Archives, Choosy Chu, Glam Baby, Flag, Goa, Humor Shop by A-net, Minnetonka, Laboratory Work ReCurrent, Pink Trick, Rady, Rione Doras, Juge ETTA, Loaves, Phoebe, Roomy’s, and Jewelna Rose. You also have  lifestyle stores and places to relax and enjoy a snack. On top of this, the rooftop observatory is a gem and will attract people because of the style and layout within such a vibrant part of Tokyo.

The green angle which can be found in the Omohara Forest part of the shopping complex is a lovely idea. Therefore, the roof terrace will entice individuals to enjoy the views on show and alternatively this will enhance the shopping experience to another level. Trees dot the area and with ample places to sit down it is clear that this will become a thriving place to relax with friends or for individuals to refresh themselves.

Another nice theme to Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku is that a special event will take place at the start of each month on the first Friday. This applies to highlighting the vibrant nature of art, fashion, and other aspects, of both Harajuku and Omotesando. Music and other areas will enhance these events and clearly each month will witness new themes and this will keep the new complex fresh.

It must be stated that “the old guard” will be divided on the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku because the same happened when the Omotesando Hills shopping mall was developed. This applies to individuals fearing the commercialism of fashion in this vibrant part of Tokyo. After all, Harajuku is internationally famous for kawaii culture and other interesting areas related to Lolita and so forth. Therefore, traditionalists worry that the “heart is being ripped out” of the area.

However, the Omohara street name is but one factor within the vibrant districts of Harajuku and Omotesando. Providing the area adapts to the current trends within the Tokyo fashion scene and maintains a real freshness, based on architecture and other important features, the entire district will preserve its energy. Given this, the Omohara is not a threat to the street vibes of Harajuku because this applies to internal factors related to the vibrancy of independent designers.

After all, providing the street vibes and independent designers of the area remain fresh and relate to their client base and entice newcomers, then they have nothing to fear. In this sense, the street vibes along with mainstream fashion must always remain fresh. Also, the area of Harajuku and Omotesando is sizeable for many trends to enhance each other and the backstreets, which link up with Shibuya, are areas which are awash with different styles.

Staleness is the real threat to any fashion district therefore the new Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, just like Omotesando Hills, will provide a new angle to the delightful fashion vibes of both districts. In this sense, the Omohara is part of the ongoing freshness of fashion in this buzzing part of Tokyo. Therefore, the Omohara is a great concept which highlights the vibrancy of both fashion districts which refuse to remain static and stale.

 

http://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/en/ 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com 

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Japan

 

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Claude Monet was smitten by Japanese art: Impressionism and ukiyo-e

Claude Monet was smitten by Japanese art: Impressionism and ukiyo-e

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Claude Monet was very important within French Impressionism and despite new artistic movements like Cubism and Fauvism altering the artistic landscape, he remained firmly committed to Impressionist art. Another major art theme which would shape Claude Monet was Japanese ukiyo-e because he was smitten by this art form when he witnessed it with his own eyes. Therefore, Claude Monet utilized these two powerful art movements and the upshot of this was stunning fresh art pieces which remain etched within the memory.

The Impressionist art movement altered the artistic world dramatically and created a new energy to art. However, for Claude Monet, and others, Impressionism was a philosophy which remained with him until parting from this world.

He was born in 1840 in Paris and died in 1926. Throughout his long life he created extremely stunning art which is internationally admired. From an early age Claude Monet adored art and in the early period he took lessons from Jacques-Francois Ochard. However, his early mentor who taught him about using oil paints was Eugene Boudin, a fellow artist, whom he met when still a teenager. Claude Monet and Eugene Boudin also benefitted from the influence of Johan Barthold Jongkind.

The year 1857 was very dramatic and full of sadness because Claude Monet’s mother died. From this period to the early 1860s he witnessed many highs and lows because other family members were opposed to his strong focus on art. In the early 1860s he served in the French army in Algeria and was meant to have stayed for seven years. However, after suffering from typhoid fever he was allowed to leave after two years because of the actions of his aunt and the reported prompting of Johan Barthold Jongkind.

Claude Monet in 1862 could once more fully concentrate on art but he wasn’t interested in following traditional art. He now became a student under Charles Gleyre in the dynamic city of Paris. In time he would meet powerful artists like Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederic Bazille. These artists were focused on new approaches to art and in time the Impressionist movement would radically alter the artistic landscape. Therefore, because of these individuals and others who were dedicated to new artistic concepts, a rich flow of art would galvanize the art world which remains vibrant today.

The 1870s was a very dramatic period for Claude Monet because the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 and the revolutionary fervor which gripped Paris, led to many upheavals. During the same period he was touched by Japanese print making called ukiyo-e. This love affair would stay with him for the rest of his life. However, the death of his wife from tuberculosis in 1879 after several years of illness shattered Claude Monet because he doted on Camille Doncieux.

Turning back to the impact of Japanese art on Claude Monet the writer Don Morrison, Time Magazine, commented in his article (Monet’s Love Affair with Japanese Art) that “One day in 1871, legend has it, a French artist named Claude Monet walked into a food shop in Amsterdam, where he had gone to escape the Prussian siege of Paris. There he spotted some Japanese prints being used as wrapping paper. He was so taken by the engravings that he bought one on the spot. The purchase changed his life — and the history of Western art.”

“Monet went on to collect 231 Japanese prints, which greatly influenced his work and that of other practitioners of Impressionism, the movement he helped create. Under the new Meiji Emperor, Japan in the 1870s was just opening to the outside world after centuries of isolation. Japanese handicrafts were flooding into European department stores and art galleries. Japonisme, a fascination with all things Japanese, was soon the rage among French intellectuals and artists, among them Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and the young Monet. Perhaps for that reason Impressionism caught on early in Japan and remains ferociously popular there.”

While it is known that Claude Monet adored ukiyo-e you still have major debates about how Japanese prints influenced him personally. This topic is still up in the air to many art experts and the opinion varies greatly.

On the following website (http://www.intermonet.com/japan/it is stated that “Art historians do not agree about this point: was Monet really under Japanese influence, or did he seek confirmations of his own research in Eastern art?”

“However, an attentive eye can establish interesting connections. The influence of the prints on Monet’s art can be noted in the subjects he chose, in the composition, in light……But Monet knew how to be inspired without borrowing. His paintings diverge, from the prints by many aspects. The Japanese artists liked to feature the anecdotic or dramatic moments, Monet concentrated on light, which was the very subject of the canvas – the object was no more than (a) medium to convey the plays of light.”

Art historians can either play up or play down the influence of ukiyo-e within the art of Claude Monet. However, he was clearly charmed by the ukiyo-e of individuals like Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Utamaro. This isn’t open to debate because not only did Claude Monet buy vast amount of ukiyo-e art prints but he also created a Japanese garden in his cherished home. He, and many other important Impressionists, was clearly inspired by many aspects of ukiyo-e.

The cultural dimension could never be bridged because of different thought patterns and factors behind both respective art movements. However, the richness of ukiyo-e and the freshness of this style did reinvigorate many artists in Europe and North America. Therefore, while the degree of influence may vary to respective artists who adored ukiyo-e, it is clear that new artistic concepts within ukiyo-e did inspire new thinking within many Impressionists.

Don Morrison comments that Perhaps the greatest gift Japan gave Monet, and Impressionism, was an incandescent obsession with getting the play of light and shadow, the balance of colors and the curve of a line, just right — not the way it is in reality, but the way it looks in the artist’s imagination. “I have slowly learned about the pattern of the grass, the trees, the structure of birds and other animals like insects and fish, so that when I am 80, I hope to be better,” Hokusai wrote 16 years before his death at age 89. “At 90, I hope to have caught the very essence of things, so that at 100 I will have reached heavenly mysteries. At 110, every point and line will be living.” Monet spent the last decades of his life painting his water lilies, and then painting them again, until he lost his sight in quest of an elusive, transcendent perfection that might best be called Japanese.”

The love affair that Claude Monet found with Japan in his lifetime remains powerful in modern Japan. After all, without a shadow of a doubt Claude Monet is one of the most popular artists in this country. Therefore, the “love affair” worked both ways and this “spark” remains extremely bright today in Japan amongst art lovers.

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1573943,00.html#ixzz1uXJiJOmX

http://www.intermonet.com/japan/

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Fukushima fashion in Koriyama: stunning boutiques in this trendy part of Japan

Fukushima fashion in Koriyama: stunning boutiques in this trendy part of Japan

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Koriyama is a buzzing city in Fukushima where the fashion sector is extremely vibrant. Images of Fukushima are often portrayed negatively because of the nuclear crisis that followed the devastating tsunami on March 11, 2011. However, the vast majority of Fukushima is awash with stunning nature and is open for business. Indeed, the fashion angle to Koriyama is extremely stylish and elegant and clearly the younger generation is well served because you have so many stunning boutiques to visit.

Fashion in Koriyama caters for individuals of all ages and you will find many sophisticated boutiques selling luxury items. The choices available are extremely varied and this applies to high-end fashion, new trendy vibes, elegant styles which suit people of all age groups, alternative fashion, and famous international brands. Therefore, for tourists who plan to visit Fukushima because of the abundance of adorable nature, then clearly the fashion angle to Koriyama will take people by surprise.

If you close your eyes you could easily be in trendy Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and other buzzing districts in Tokyo. However, this is the strong fashion vibes of Koriyama in Fukushima whereby the following images highlight the trendy nature of fashion in this highly developed city.

In the S-PAL Department Store you will notice how trendy and stylish the local ladies are because the dress styles are elegant. Throughout this store you have so many fabulous boutiques to visit and for young ladies it is a paradise for shopping. Adorable boutiques include Forest Heart, Index, The Emporium, VIS, E hyphen World Gallery, Earth Music & Ecology, Lowrys Farm, EMSEXCITE, Luccica, East Boy, and so many other stunning fashion companies. Therefore, for ladies who adore fashion a visit to S-PAL is highly recommended.

The S-PAL Department Store is located within the train station and within easy walking distance you have the exquisite Usui Department Store. This high-end department store would grace the most sophisticated parts of Tokyo, Paris, Milan, New York, Seattle, London, and other major fashion cities throughout the world. Therefore, for the people of Fukushima who desire luxury and extravagance then clearly the Usui Department Store provides this in abundance. In saying that, you will also find extremely stylish companies where the prices are very competitive and alluring for people who shop in this lovely department store.

In Usui Department Store you will find exquisite boutiques, jewelry companies, the crème de la crème of cosmetic companies, and so much more. A partial list includes Estee Lauder, Shiseido, Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Peyton Place, Indivi, Itariya, Kanebo cosmetics, Pride and Unspeck, Swarovski, Lesouk Prix, Ined, ef-de, Coach, Reliant, Powder Palette, Franco Ferrer (b), and a host of other sublime companies. The Usui Department Store is a real gem of a company which highlights the elegance of fashion in Koriyama.

Another lovely fashion store catering for different styles is Molti Department Store which is extremely near to S-PAL. In Molti Department Store you will find many fashion companies catering for both sexes but clearly this store is extremely popular for young ladies. This is because of the stylish nature of the fashion on show and both department stores within the train station area enhance the fashion vibes of both companies.

Adorable boutiques in Molti Department Store include Clef De Sol, Raugefeel, MIX-O, a.v.v., Faunny Luv, Amare MYLEPR, Aspri Classe, Mighty Circle, Love & Peace, Benetton, Amo’s Style, and many others. Also, the international flavor can be found in other areas and this applies to the Body Shop or relaxing over coffee at Starbucks. This store certainly attracts the fashion conscious and the ambience is really nice.

It is also worth checking out the streets near the train station because you also have independent boutiques catering for various tastes. Therefore, Koriyama is certainly a fantastic city to visit from the fashion point of view.

Overall, it is clear that Fukushima needs internal tourists and international tourists to visit the many beautiful parts of this prefecture. The purpose of highlighting fashion in Koriyama is to show a different image to all the negative news about Fukushima. Therefore, by highlighting the fashion sector in this commercial city it shows that business and life is not only ticking but it is also vibrant.

Koriyama is only 55km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. However, the atmosphere is 2012 is vibrant, energetic, and the fashion scene is extremely elegant. The photos in this article show the “real Koriyama” which is being neglected in the international media. Therefore, the best way to support the recovery of the Tohoku region is by visiting when possible in order to help the local economy.

The Koriyama fashion scene is buzzing and from this modern city you can visit many beautiful parts of Fukushima. This applies to the stunning mountain ranges, the many beautiful ponds which dot the landscape of the Ura-Bandai area, Abukuma Cave, a stunning castle, sophisticated museums, and so much more. Fukushima provides the lot, from adorable fashion in the main commercial city of Koriyama to stunning nature – and because of the Shinkansen train system, it means that it takes only around 80 minutes from Tokyo.

 

Boutiques

http://www.ef-de.jp/

http://www.ehyphen.jp/

http://www.feroux.jp/

http://www.earth1999.jp/

http://www.ined.com/

Department stores

http://www.usui-dept.co.jp/

http://www.s-pal.jp/

http://www.molti-koriyama.jp/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2012/05/02/japan-tourism-and-fukushima-abukuma-do-koriyama-and-urabandai/

All fashion images belong to Modern Tokyo Times but please feel free to use providing you mention our website.  Thanks!

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Japan

 

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Japanese ukiyo-e

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Japanese ukiyo-e

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) adored Japanese ukiyo-e and many famous international artists also fell in love with this art form. Toulouse-Lautrec and his lifestyle would certainly have fit in well with the environment of Yoshiwara in Tokyo, which is famous for prostitution. Indeed, several ukiyo-e artists depicted scenes in this famous district including Hiroshige and Utamaro. Therefore, Toulouse-Lautrec would have felt like being “home from home” because Yoshiwara and Montmartre shared many common features in the past.

Rene Princeteau gave art lessons to Toulouse-Lautrec when he was young and the background of his family is one of wealth. Indeed, he was born into an aristocratic family but tragedy impinged on Toulouse-Lautrec when he was a teenager because he broke both legs. The severity of the accidents meant that his legs stopped growing and this created “many internal demons.” This is based on the fact that his body continued to develop like normal therefore throughout his short life he could never fully come to terms with this situation.

The artistic turning point for Toulouse-Lautrec came in 1882 because he went to Paris in order to study conventional art. He soon met important artists like Vincent Van Gogh and the art of Edgar Degas inspired him greatly in this period. Therefore, the lore of Impressionist art enticed him greatly and because of this he gave up his studies in conventional art.

Toulouse-Lautrec who was born in the south of France now found himself in Montmartre in Paris. The environment was completely different because this area had a buzzing nightlife across the whole spectrum. This applies to cabarets, restaurants, dancing clubs with sexual connotations, cafes, brothels, and other areas of life.

The trappings of this new environment enticed Toulouse-Lautrec because he soon joined the bohemian community. During the evening period he would drink and natter with friends. However, despite enjoying himself Toulouse-Lautrec would also draw sketches and then work on altering these by turning them into lithographs and paintings. This became most rewarding for Toulouse-Lautrec because the environment created passion, innovation, and ideas, which were then expressed through his artwork.

Dieter Wanczura, www.artelino.comcomments that “The lithographs of Lautrec show the famous personalities of the French Belle Epoque. Lautrec knew them all personally- singers and dancers like Yvette Guilbert, May Belfort, Jane Avril or the poet Aristide Bruant. Many of these lithographs were commissioned by these artists for posters or theater billboards or as illustrations for magazines.”

Dieter Wanczura further comments that “The impressionists saw Ukiyo-e art (Japanese woodblock prints) and were impressed. And like so many other artists of the late nineteenth century, Lautrec had started collecting Japanese art. At that time, everything Japanese was en vogue – very fashionable.”

“Japanese printmaking had a very pervasive influence on his style. For Toulouse Lautrec movement and forms were important. His compositions, unusual perspectives and the use of large areas of flat color are undoubtedly inspired by Japanese woodblock prints.”

Western art impacted on Japanese art in the same period and likewise the Paris scene was awash with ukiyo-e prints. Therefore, new ideas were going in both directions but cultural differences meant that aspects of the cultural settings were very different. Also, individual artists, irrespective of nationality, had unique aspects which applied to their respective thought patterns and upbringings.

Artists like Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, and many others, were influenced by Japonisme (Japonism). However, Japonisme was based on the eye and not the concept or rich traditions which had evolved in Japan. Also, ukiyo-e is extremely broad when it comes to subjects that were covered and individual artists had their own unique styles and ways. Yet despite this, Japonisme certainly inspired many artists and for Toulouse-Lautrec ukiyo-e was like Montmartre. This applies to opening-up a new world of art and thought patterns, which would enhance his creativity and style.

If you visit that Van Gogh (www.vangoghgallery.com) Gallery website it is stated that “Japanese art, especially Japanese woodcuts, became a great influence on Van Gogh. When Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 he was introduced to impressionism and also explored Japonism. Van Gogh admired the bold designs, intense colors, and flat areas of pure color and he also appreciated the elegant and simple lines.”

It is abundantly clear that Toulouse-Lautrec would fully understand the words of Van Gogh because he was also transformed in Paris. In another article I wrote about Japanese art I comment that Ukiyo-e and western art went in both directions but the initial contact period will have been based on a mirror which can’t fully show the complexion of the individual because of all the steam. Irrespective of this, it is clear that both traditions led to new creativity.”

Sadly, for Toulouse-Lautrec, the lifestyle that altered his artistic path in Paris also became self destructive. Therefore, alcohol abuse and other negative areas all climaxed in his early death at the age of 36. In many ways Toulouse-Lautrec always had “two worlds which were pulling in opposite directions.” The first world applies to coming from a wealthy family but having poor health for the majority of his life. While the second world applies to being extremely creative because of the environment of Paris but the same environment led to his early death based on alcohol abuse and other factors.

Irrespective of everything, Toulouse-Lautrec leaves a lasting legacy because of the richness of his art and he also opens up the world of Montmartre.

 

http://www.artelino.com/articles/toulouse_lautrec.asp

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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Japanese art and Asai Chu: the eclipse of ukiyo-e by western style art

Japanese art and Asai Chu: the eclipse of ukiyo-e by western style art

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

 

The Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to many social convulsions and like all revolutionary periods you had many winners and losers. This applies to individuals who could adapt to the rapid changes in society and the art world was no exception in Japan. Asai Chu (1856-1907) belonged to this changing world. However, in some ways he was lucky because he was young enough to understand these momentous events in Japanese history.

The old world of ukiyo-e would become eclipsed in the lifetime of Asai Chu despite some amazing Meiji ukiyo-e artists. Not surprisingly, Asai Chu became involved in the new wave of Japanese art which was heavily influenced by Western style artists. Of course, it wasn’t all one way because many Western artists like Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Edgar Devas, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and many others, adored ukiyo-e and Japanese style paintings.

However, the technological developments of photography and other areas meant that ukiyo-e could not compete on a level playing field based on modernization alone. Also, different cultural influences and Japanese artists living abroad meant that new dynamics were at work. This implies that while technological change speeded up the artistic transition, the old order would have been usurped anyway because of cultural interaction and changing thought patterns. Therefore, for individuals like Asai Chu these were exciting times.

Ironically, the Meiji period did witness many fantastic ukiyo-e artists and it is because of these individuals that it managed to cling on for so long. Notable Meiji ukiyo-e artists include Yoshitoshi, Chikanobu, Kobayashi Kiyochika, Ogata Gekko, Kawanabe Kyosai, Toyohara Kunichika, Utagawa Yoshifuji, Mizuno Toshikata, Ginko Adachi, and several others. However, they were swimming “against the tide” despite their collective skills blessing the art world and enriching Japanese art.

Traces of the old world survived in modern Japan through new movements like shin-hanga but this area was limited when compared with the days of Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro, and many other amazing artists, who belonged to the world of ukiyo-e. However, this isn’t to underestimate the shin-hanga movement because it produced many stunning artists like Ito Shinsui, Hiroshi Yoshida, and Kawase Hasui (to name just a few). Also, the bridge of the shin-hanga movement meant that “the shadow” of the old world was ticking but fused with new changes and thinking within this intriguing art form.

Asai Chu blossomed under Kunisawa Shinkuro and he was lucky enough to study under Antonio Fontanesi. The reason why he had this opportunity was because of the Meiji elites who wanted to transport the best of the Western world and fuse this with the best of Japan. Therefore, in the area of science, the arts, law, industrialization, military thinking, commerce, political systems, and so forth, the power of the West became embodied within the psyche of the new Japan. Of course, while new thought patterns emerged, the power of Japanese culture and different thought patterns meant that you had a lot of fusions. Therefore, in certain areas “a new way” emerged based on Japanization.

In an earlier article I stated that “The Meiji government hired Antonio Fontanesi in order that he would introduce oil painting from Europe and clearly Asai Chu learnt much because his passion and sophistication grew. When Asai Chu was in his forties he resigned from being a professor in Tokyo and moved to France for two years. This decision was wise because by studying at an impressionist art school he managed to enhance his artistic skill and techniques.”

“Also, the cultural aspect of studying in France meant that new styles of thinking and artistic creativity would further enrich his rich talents. This decision also shows that Asai Chu was still searching and despite the relative comfort of being a professor in Tokyo he was willing to take risks in order to pursue his love of art.”

The inquisitive nature of Asai Chu and his love of art meant that France would enhance him personally, and in turn he would influence many important Japanese artists when he returned home. This must have pleased the Meiji leaders who were involved in the arts because the younger generation of aspiring artists had an individual to look up. This is based on his stunning art and the rich knowledge that he had obtained in Japan and France.

Therefore, artists like Yasui Sotaro, Suda Kunitaro, Umehara Ryuzaburo, and many others, learnt many things from Asai Chu. On returning to Japan he became a professor at Kyoto College of Arts and Crafts and because of his enthusiasm for art, he was involved in many clubs related to this field. Therefore, just like the dynamic Meiji period it is abundantly clear that Asai Chu was equally creative and vigorous.

In my earlier article about Asai Chu and the role of the Meiji political leadership, I comment that “Meiji political leaders impacted on art in this period and introduced new art forms from outside of Japan. However, at the same time political leaders were concerned about preserving the richness of Japanese art and culture. This minefield wasn’t easy and conservatives and liberals understood what was at stake but for individuals like Asai Chu the issue was “art” and not politics or cultural engineering.”

Ukiyo-e was clearly on “borrowed time” because of the prevailing conditions and artists like Asai Chu re-invigorated Japanese art. The shin-hanga movement meant that the power of ukiyo-e was kept alive for many decades throughout the twentieth century. It matters not that the thought patterns, concepts, and art, were very different because the link is evidently clear for all to see.

However, the world of Asai Chu would impact greatly on Japanese art because so many other fellow nationals were inspired by Western art. However, in truth, each new movement will one day be eclipsed by new concepts, styles, and thinking. Therefore, the diversity of Japanese art is blessed by each special art movement irrespective if the roots began in Japan, China, France, Holland, or wherever.

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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