Yesterday, by serendipitous chance, I was near the Japanese embassy and saw a banner outside announcing an art exhibit, Sharaku.
Of course I had to pop inside.
The exhibition contained high-quality woodblock prints, posters by graphic designers, a few sculptures and porcelain items, and two large paintings, these last being my personal favorites. Another great display was three wooden music boxes, the likes of which I have never seen before. They were very tactile and fascinating to touch and listen to.
From the handout I learned that Toshusai Sharaku was a well-known artist from the Edo period; his specialty was woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) of Kabuki actors. The woodblock prints in the gallery were reproductions of his work, while all the other items–from the graphic posters to the paintings and porcelain and yes, even those music boxes–were re-interpretations of his work by Japanese artists working in a wide variety of mediums. Fascinating to read about, and I found it interesting to have experienced the full impact of the the works before reading about the artist and displays.
All in all, while not a large exhibit, it’s a great way to spend half an hour, especially considering that there’s not a whole lot of this type of art in Kathmandu. And did I mention that it’s free?
The Sharaku exhibit is on display at the Japanese Embassy through March 11, 2014.
And if, after having had your fill of Japanese art, you feel a hunger for something more…filling, just a few minutes walk from the Japanese Embassy up Lazimpat (going north) on the opposite side of the road you’ll find Kotetsu, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. While they do have a full menu to choose from, I usually go for the bento lunch box, which costs 500 nrs. and changes every day. It’s a great way to sample unusual Japanese flavors and textures, all of which are delicious. The relaxed atmosphere and seating arrangement that allows you to watch the chefs at work is also fantastic.
On a completely unrelated note, yesterday’s copy of The Himalayan Times informed me that “The Ministry for Home Affairs has fixed the number of public holidays other than Saturdays for the year 2071 BS.” The year 2071 refers to the Nepali calendar, which is lunar based; we still have a few weeks left of 2070; the new year, 2071, will start in mid-April. The number of holidays allotted is 50 (in addition to those 52 Saturdays, Sunday being the first day of the week in Nepal). This led me to wonder, is this number of public holidays a lot or a little? I’ve been here too long to tell; Nepal has myriad holidays and religious festivals, some of which are only marked by certain ethnic groups. But considering that Nepal has only a one-day weekend instead of a two-day one, I think it’s just right. So many years, and so much left yet to learn.