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Japanese art exhibit joins the Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

A new art exhibit will open at the Japan Information & Culture Center in NW Washington, as the Cherry Blossom Festival gets underway. (Photo, ABC7)

Pretty soon, the Tidal Basin will be pretty in pink.

The peak prediction for the blooms will be announced on Wednesday, March 1, as DC gets set to celebrate the gift from Japan in 1912.

Not far from the sought-after trees, a new art exhibit will open at the Japan Information & Culture Center in NW Washington, as the Cherry Blossom Festival gets underway.

The small ornaments made of natural materials, including wood and even bone, are called netsuke.

“It became a personal male jewelry, personal adornment,” said Dr. Jay Hopkins, the former president of the International Netsuke Society.

Dr. Hopkins first learned about netsuke when he spent two years in Japan with the Air Force.

Now, he’s educating those who will inform the public, including Diplomat Takaaki Nemoto, who showed off how netsuke was worn with a kimono. Its purpose is to hold up pouches since they had no pockets.

The style dates back about 400 years.

“Learning about the netsuke history, they can also learn about the U.S.-Japan relations,” said Nemoto.

The artwork will stay behind glass when the exhibit opens, but Dr. Hopkins shared with us his personal collection. Some of the pieces could take as long as three-six months to make.

In fact, around half of what visitors will see belongs to Dr. Hopkins following his trip to Japan.

“It rapidly became a form of male jewelry, self-adornment and probably one of the very few ways for you to express any degree of individuality,” said Dr. Hopkins.

The exhibit opens to the public for two months starting on March 15, just as the Cherry Blossoms attract more visitors.

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