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Tanzaku

Event - Sainsbury Institute - Shoe Factory, St Marys Plain, Norwich NR3 3AF

Wednesday 17 July, 2024 - Thursday 25 July, 2024

Exhibition open 10:00-16:00 daily and is free to visit.

An exhibition by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in partnership with MORIS, Kobe Japan.

Tanzaku are strips of paper approximately 36cm tall and 6cm wide, upon which haiku or tanka (another form of short poetry) are written. Illustrated tanzaku, known as e-tanzaku, often feature paintings depicting the beauty of nature across the four seasons, flora and fauna, scenes from classical literature, and landscapes or customary practices. E-tanzaku were displayed as decorative objects in the entrance halls of ordinary homes from the end of the Edo period (1603–1868) through to the Shōwa period (1926–1989). In Osaka during the Edo and Meiji periods (1868–1912), there were even shops exclusively selling tanzaku, underscoring their significance in daily life.

We are delighted to host an exhibition of original tanzaku works here in Norwich alongside the display Hokusai: Art Beyond Boundaries. Echoing the displays at MORIS Gallery in Kobe, this exhibition gathers together a number of hand-drawn e-tanzaku from the final years of the Edo period through to the Shōwa period. Reflecting the changing seasons, e-tanzaku are hung and rehung in dynamic displays, part of a daily ritual of drinking tea, giving thanks, and celebration in Japan. These e-tanzaku encapsulate a Japanese way of life, and an art incorporated into the rhythms of daily living through these displays.

As part of the event, MORIS will also host a series of  tea ceremonies over two days. The tea ceremony is a traditional practice not only for enjoying tea but also for creating a salon space where artists and writers can exchange knowledge and produce intimate artworks. We hope to introduce various aspects of the art of tanzaku in Norwich as part of the Sainsbury Institute’s 25th anniversary events.

MORIS, a gallery in Kobe opened in 2014, has been collaborating with contemporary Japanese artists and has regularly organised exhibitions including tanzaku events in Kobe. By doing so, the owner Moriwaki Kyoko has developed a wide network of Japanese kogei artists and supports their activities. Her exhibitions have been featured in various Japanese magazines. Kyoko also occasionally writes articles in a local magazine in Kobe and Akita. ‘Tanzaku zaku zaku’ or ‘Tanzaku treasure hunt’ events at MORIS have been held once a year since 2016 and have attracted a growing number of fans not only from Kobe but from across Japan.

Accompanied by a series of associated events, this exhibition is part of the anniversary program celebrating 25 years of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.

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