Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum

In Kyoto's Last Surviving Samurai Residence: Marvel at Netsuke, Japan's Most Intricate Art Form

Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum opens for its Early Autumn Exhibition of netsuke miniature sculpture by Motomasa Kurita.

Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum is pleased to announce the opening of its special Early Autumn Exhibition of netsuke miniature sculpture by artist Motomasa Kurita (b. 1976).

His talents recognized by the Japanese government at the tender age of 23 and the recipient of several prestigious awards since, Kurita creates pieces full of fascination and wit. Experience a palm-sized universe in the heart of the old capital!

The Early Autumn Exhibition
September 1-30, 2013
Open 10:00-17:00 (last entry 4:30pm)
Adults ¥1000, Junior High/High School Students ¥500.
*Please note children of elementary school age and below are not permitted in the museum.

About Motomasa Kurita

Motomasa Kurita hails from Gunma Prefecture, where he began his career as a carver of ivory and netsuke under the tutelage of veteran artist Shingetsu Muramatsu.

Kurita's style can be described as "neo-classicist": combining techniques passed down from the Edo Period with a modern sensibility. His material of choice is deer antler, which comes in plentiful supply from neighbouring Nara, where the remarkably tame creatures freely roam its parks.

Having observed his taxidermist father at work as a child, Kurita developed a keen eye for depicting animals, particularly birds and insects. More recently, though, he has recently turned his hand to carving characters from ukiyo-e ("floating world"), Edo period woodblock prints, and kabuki theatre. 70 selected pieces are on display in this exhibition.

What Are Netsuke?

A graceful heron watching over her egg. An imperial courtier eloping with his lover. A scheming fox god disguised as a tea master. This is just a glimpse of what one might see in the vibrant, curious world of netsuke miniature sculpture.

Netsuke originated in the Edo Period (1603-1868), an age of flourishing arts and culture. No bigger than the palm of your hand, netsuke were used as a fastener to suspend items like money or medicine cases and tobacco pipes to the obi sash, which was tied around the waist. Far from merely functional items, these tiny statues, finely detailed and crafted from a variety of precious materials, became coveted accessories. This was especially so in light of the sumptuary laws enacted by the draconian shogunate regime, in which conspicuous displays of wealth unbefitting of one's class were harshly punished.

Although the kimono is no longer a part of daily life in Japan, netsuke remain highly prized among collectors, and over 150 carvers in Japan continue to develop this fascinating art form.

About Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum

Netsuke Art Museum opened in 2007 as Japan's foremost museum dedicated to netsuke sculpture. Located in Kyoto's last remaining samurai residence, the museum building has been designated an Important Cultural Property. The museum houses the Kinoshita collection of some 3,000 netsuke dating from the Edo Period to present day, of which 400 are put on display to the public for special exhibitions of contemporary artists five times a year.

Tags: art, Kyoto, museum

About Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum

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Lucinda Cowing
Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum