Japanese history unfolds in art exhibition

Art lovers have a chance to experience unique insights into Japanese history with a new exhibition at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre.

The Nikkei Centre and the West Vancouver Museum are hosting a Ukiyoe Spectacular - featuring more than 100 woodblock prints from a private collection in Japan.

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It runs Jan. 11 to March 23 at the Nikkei Centre, 6688 Southoaks Cres. in Burnaby.

An opening celebration is being held at the Nikkei Centre on Saturday,  Jan. 11, with a talk by curator Shinichi Inagaki from 2 to 3 p.m., and a reception from 3 to 5 p.m.

West Vancouver's opening reception is Jan. 9, and the exhibition runs Jan. 10 to March 22.

A press release notes that this offers a rare opportunity for residents to see works by Kuniyoshi, Yoshifuji and Hiroshige, among many others known for their work in ukiyoe-e.

Ukiyoe-e, which literally means "pictures of floating world," is an art form that dates back more than 300 years and reached its golden age during the Edo period (1604 to 1868).

"The prints included in this exhibition from the late Edo demonstrate technical virtuosity and culturally rich traditions," the release says.

Alongside common ukiyo-e subjects such as kabuki actors and beautiful women, other images reveal interpretations of social and political issues of the time.

A series of events and talks about ukiyo-e and Japanese culture is also being offered. Among the events:

* Japanese Folklore and Popular Customs Appearing in Ukiyoe Spectacular: Jan Walls, professor emeritus in humanities at Simon Fraser University, gives this talk on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Nikkei National Museum and again on Saturday, Feb. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the West Vancouver Museum.

* Kuniyoshi's Comic Prints: Exploring the Roots of Manga in Edo-Period Ukiyoe: Maiko Behr, a Japanese art consultant and translator, explores this topic on Sunday, March 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Nikkei, and Saturday, March 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the West Vancouver Museum.

* Jan Ken Pon! (Rock Paper Scissors) Family Games Day: On Sunday, Feb. 9, from 2 to 5 p.m., you can experience more than 20 traditional Japanese heritage games and toys, some related to the ukiyo-e exhibit.

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