Vintage landscape: Tokyo

Japanese festival, Library of CongressShichūhan’ei tanabata matsuri (The city flourishing, Tanabata Festival), 1857, by Andō Hiroshige, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The print shows tall bamboo decorated with cutout ornaments and paper streamers bearing wishes above Tokyo’s rooftops during the festival, which begins on July 7. Tanabata, or “evening of the seventh,”  honors the yearly meeting of two deities/stars/lovers, Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).

Life in gardens: blossom time

Under cherry blossoms, H. Hyde, via Library of Congress“Blossom time in Tokyo,” ca. 1914, a woodcut print by Helen Hyde, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Helen Hyde grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and studied at the California School of Design and in Europe. While in Paris, she was influenced by Mary Cassatt’s early works, which made use of  Japanese perspective and pattern and featured the intimate lives of women and children. In 1899, she moved to Tokyo, where she studied woodblock printing techniques. She lived there until 1914.

Vintage landscape: Edo blossoms

Cherry blossoms in Japan, Library of Congress“Higurashi no sato jiin no rinsen” (Temple Gardens, Nippori), 1857, a woodblock print by Andō Hiroshige, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The view is from Ueno Hill of Shūsō-in, one of three Buddhist temple gardens known as Hanamidera or Flower-viewing Temples. This print is one of fifty in an album of Edo (present day Tokyo) by Hiroshige.

Detail of print above.
Detail of print above.

There’s a nice essay on cherishing the brief beauty of the cherry blossoms by Diane Durston in today’s Washington Posthere.

Detail of print above.
Detail of print above.
The cherry trees in our neighborhood here in Stuttgart have just begun to bloom this week.

Vintage landscape: Tokyo

Akasaka, Tokyo, 1890s, from The New York Public Library Commons on flickrAkasaka, Tokyo, ca. 1890s, photographer unknown.  The image is part of “The Album of Photographs of Japan,” via The New York Public Library* Commons on flickr.

Cherry blossoms (sakura) in Tokyo are expected to open on March 30 this year, with the peak bloom being about April 6 to 15.

In Washington, D.C., The National Cherry Blossom Festival will begin on Thursday, March 20, and continue through April 13. Click here and here for more information on events and local accommodations.

The Washington Post has predicted this year’s peak bloom to be about April 9.


*Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.