The Ukiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art in Harajuku, Tokyo offers an intimate and easy to understand presentation of Ukiyo-e prints. This museum does not have a permanent exhibit on display, but rather rotates exhibits monthly from .
This March 2015 exhibit is titled “Kawaii ～Cute Girls in Ukiyo-e” which caught my interest. First entering I did not understand what was so “Kawaii”, however, reading the supporting materials on the Ukiyo-e prints exhibited one can learn about the bright and bold print kimonos, extravagant hairstyles and cutting edge make-up on the women of Edo. The museum is quite small and will only take 30-45 minutes to see the two floors of gallery space. Overall I found the “Kawaii” exhibit quite educational about fashion, make-up and hairstyles of the Edo period. If you want to view Ukiyo-e prints but are a bit intimidated this is a good first show. If you are in the Harajuku/Omotesando area definitely pop-in if you have 30 mins. The “Kawaii” exhibit runs until March 26th, 2015.
Here is the information provided by The Ukiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art.
Young women dressed up in bright and bold fashion can frequently be seen walking the streets of Harajuku. Such an original fashion sense, characterized as “kawaii,” has become known to the world as one of the representative elements of Japanese pop culture. It is not just people of the modern era, however, that enjoy a unique sense of fashion. When we look at the fashion of the Edo people depicted in ukiyo-e, it is filled with gorgeous hair ornaments, colorful kimonos, and people trying on eccentric makeup as they competed for originality with their accessories. The desire for fashion was in fact so strong that the EdoShogunate banned luxurious decorations on several occasions. Despite such circumstances, courtesans, city girls and princesses of samurai families all enjoyed pursuing fashion in their own way. At Harajuku where “kawaii” is abundant, this exhibition explores the roots of such a phenomenon through ukiyo-e.
Women of Edo boldly wore original kimonos and makeup. High-ranking courtesans, in particular, who were the leaders of fashion at that time, dressed up gorgeously and strikingly. They would arrange ornamental hairpins in a fashion that forms a shape like the spokes of a wheel (radial pattern sounds weird…), or wear make-up in a unique fashion calledsasairo-beni. This sasairo-beni, which gave a green tint to the lips, was accomplished by applying multiple layers of rouge made from safflower onto the lower lip. Such an original sense of beauty surprises even the people of today
Ukiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art Details
Address: 1-10-10 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Open hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:30 -17:00 (closed Monday)
Cost: Admissions：Adults 700 yen, university and sr. high school students 500 yen, jr. high and below free
Access: 3 min walk from Harajuku station on the JR Yamanote line
Ukiyo-e Ōta Memorial Museum of Art
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