Sunday, December 9, 2007

It has been a lot of fun...

There will be no discussions of Momoyama art today because I have too much to do. But please let me know if you are very interested, I can provide a list of readings for you…

To my own astonishment, I am less than 10 days a way from surviving my first semester in Japanese class. Quite an accomplishment in my opinion. It has been, without a doubt, the most challenging and time-consuming class that I have ever taken (and I was a mechanical engineering major!).

I am well aware that I am not gifted at all when it comes to languages (just ask my French teachers at Stanford). But I think learning Japanese is a lot like learning snowboarding—it’s very difficult at the beginning, but once you pass that threshold of a total beginner, you get used to it and progress well. In other words, I am not getting as many face-plants as I used to…

To my Senseis, TAs and classmates, it has been a pleasure knowing and learning from you all. Happy Holidays! See you next year!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hasegawa Tohaku 長谷川とうはく

Before we talk about Hasegawa Tohaku today, いいお好み焼きの レストランは どこですか。Please let me know if you know one (or more). This information will be much appreciated.

This Tohaku work is a fusuma painting titled “Maple Tree.” Originally it was created for Shounji , a temple built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi for the salvation of his three-year-old son Tsurumatsu. Following the fall of Hideyoshi’s faction in 1615, the temple was destroyed and the surviving paintings were installed in the Shingon temple of Chishakuin, where they were cut down to fit the smaller dimensions of fusuma there. Considered masterworks of Tohaku’s blue-and gold style, a single maple tree is depicted over four panels with its leaves beginning to turn color. The branches reach downward in an un-naturalistic fashion, as tension is created between the massive trunk and the delicate leaves.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kano Eitoku's Lions

Kano Eitoku 狩野えいとく

Considered the most prominent painter of the Momoyama 桃山period, Kano Eitoku (1543-1590) was talented as he was prolific. He and the studio that he lead were commissioned to paint numerous fusuma ふすま (painting on sliding doors) for shogunal palaces (such as the Azuchi Castle, built by the great shogun Oda Nobunaga 織田信長), and imperial palaces. Although many of these works, like the once glorious Azuchi Castle, have been destroyed in the turbulent years during the end of the 16th century, a few of Eitoku’s finest works remain as testaments to the diverse oeuvre created by Eitoku.

One of such is the “Mythological Chinese Lions” (late 1580’s, six-panel folding screen, colors and gold leaf on paper) currently housed at the Imperial Household Collection. According to one tradition, the screen was supposedly presented by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the warlord Mori Terumoto as a conciliatory offering at the time of the siege of Takamatsu Castle in 1582. Careful evaluation of Eitoku’s stylistic development seems to cast doubt on this possibility, for scholars are inclined to date the screen several years later, 1587 or 1588.

The bold and monumental style of these two beasts is exemplary of Eitoku’s brush later in his career. The size of the screen, 222.8 x 452 cm, empowers the appearance of the lions to be enormous and imposing. The dearth of depth in Eitoku’s depiction, placing the lions to the very foreground of the composition, brings the lions next to the physical space of the room. The lions’s confrontation with the viewers demands attention, while manifesting themselves as mythical beings with their unusual appearance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

composition #2


おげんきですか。わたしは アイミーです。コロンビアの だいがくいんせです。ちゅうごくと にほんの びじゅつを べんきょうします。にほんごが すこし わかります。えいごと ちゅうごくごが よく わかります。そして フランスごが だいたい わかります。わたしの がこうの せいかつは とても いそがしいですが、たのしいです。せんせいは ゆうめいですが、しんせつです。 げつようびから もくようびまで がつこうへ いきます。まいにち べんきょします。

わたしは りょうりが じょうずですが、まいにち りょうりを しません。じかんが ありませんから。でも、にほんの りょうりが すきです。やまださんは どんな りょうりが すきですか。

らいねんの ろくがつ ついたちに とうきょうへ いきます。やまださんは やまとえと にほんの びじゅつが すきですか。いしょに びじゅつかんへ いきませんか。


じゅういちがつ ようか


Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Met

こんしゅうの すいようびに わたしは せんせいと The Metびじゅつかんへ いきます。 ちゅうごくの が を みます。

This will be my first trip to the Met viewing Chinese painting from the storage, not in the exhibition area. As a fledgling art historian, I must say that viewing works of art in person is completely different from looking at slides in class or reproductions in catalogues. I am quite excited about our visit to the Met, except that there will be a big Japanese exam the next day and that definitely dampens the excitement…(hint to my Sensei…)

Nevertheless, I still very much look forward to it. A few weeks ago, Professor McKelway took a few of us graduate students to the Burke Collection, the largest and most prestigious private collection of Japanese art outside of Japan. All I have to say is that, Japanese screen painting has never looked so vivid and brilliant. I think I have been spoiled, and reproduction will never satisfy me again. In the US, accessibility of great works of art is only available in New York – one of the main reasons that I came to Columbia. So those of you who flinches at the thought of visiting museums, いつしょに びじゅつかんへ いきませんか。

Sunday, October 21, 2007

to my teachers and classmates

Actually, I quite like my Japanese class.

Yes, I do. Contrary to my incessant complains about the work load and the never-ending daily quizzes, I enjoy my Japanese class. My teachers, Sato Sensei and Nazikian Sensei are phenomenal; my classmates (mostly undergrad little kids) are comical and entertaining; and the course content at times can be just downright funny (Has anyone else discovered the sections titled “How to Use a Japanese Bath” and “How to Use the Toilet” on page 69 in the yellow book?) What is a sleep-deprived art history graduate student to do but to fall in love with all of the above?

Honestly, one of the reasons I enjoy this class is the fact that I can be more relaxed during class. Unlike my other graduate courses, where I frequently hear the familiar lines such as “Amy, what do you think of the arguments made by Cahill and Fong?” or “Amy, can you tell us which of the two juxtaposed painting preceded the other and why?” or “Amy, [insert a very difficult art historical question]?” At the sound of my name, I know a tough question is about to spring onto me and I have about 3 seconds to rack my brains, recall some passages from the 750 pages that I read in the previous week, and come up with something remotely intelligent to say.

My loving Japanese teachers are much more forgiving when I blank out and brain-freeze – which happens frequently due to the fact that after the grueling graduate courses in the morning, my spent brain with no lunch usually doesn’t function very well at 1 pm. My equally sympathetic classmates are very helpful when we work on oral exercises. My lab TA has also shown tremendous patience and has been very kind.

So, I dedicate this blog, with all the previous and future postings – current posting written by a very tired and grumpy graduate student who just returned from her sister-in-law’s 3-day wedding celebration in Long Island and has so much work and reading to do that she will probably stay up very late tonight – to Sato Sensei, Nazikian Sensei, my lab TA (Tanaka Sensei? Please don’t be offended if I got your name wrong), and my classmates. Without you, I wouldn’t have lasted this long.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Do you like snowboarding?

こんばんは。わたしは しちじはんに ばんごはんを たべました。それから べんきょうしました。

Snowboarding は にほんごで なんですか。Because right now I rather talk about snowboarding than study. These pictures were taken during one of our trips to Squaw Valley (by Lake Tahoe, where the 1960 Winter Olympics was held) . In the second picture, you could see Lake Tahoe in the distance and I was sitting at 8,200 feet elevation. That's one of the main things I miss about San Francisco - you are just a 3-hour drive away from the world-class skiing of Lake Tahoe, and there are dozens of ski resorts to choose from. There are 4000 acres of skiable terrain in Squaw Valley alone. 4000 ACRES! Apparently, there is nothing comparable here at the east coast. I guess I just need to take up a new winter activity, such as ...knitting? Any suggestions? Honestly, I am not a great snowboarder - I still get face-plants. But despite the occasional, inevitable face-plants, I still enjoy it immensely.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

えいがーLust, Caution

土曜日わたしは 映画をみました。たまごとぎゅうにゅうを かいました。にちようび わたしは べんきょうしました。じゅうにじに ねました。


Sunday, October 7, 2007

family time in Paris & London

こんにちは。きょねん かぞくと フランスとイギリス へ いきました。 びじゅつかんへ タクシーで いきました。ことし かぞくと イタリアへ いきます。Ok, it took me a while to figure out how to enter Katagana on my software, NJ Star. But it was worth it.

I am looking forward to our family vacation in Italy during Christmas and the New Year's, as we always have a wonderful time together. Meanwhile, I am ashamed to admit that despite the fact that this will be my fifth trip to Italy, I speak minimum Italian. One definitely gets a better cultural experience (and receives better treatment from the locals) when one speaks the native language. I experienced this phenomenon every time we went to Paris. Being able to speak French has enhanced my travel considerably. Some day, I hope to achieve the same level of fluency in Japanese before I visit Japan again (though I foresee myself as having a LONG WAY to go…).

じゃ、またらいしゅう。- アイミ

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


こんにちは。初めまして。わたしわAmyーです。San Francisco からきました。わたしはColumbiaのだいがくいんせいです。まいにちべんきょします。どぞよろしく。

Saturday, September 22, 2007

before ももやま, there wasむろまち...

(All the images shown are through the courtesy of Professor Matthew McKelway)

Let’s get acquainted with the important dates first:

Ashikagaあしかが足利 (Muromachiむろまち室町) period: 1393-1573.
Momoyamaももやま桃山 period: 1573-1615.
Tokugawaとくがわ徳川 (Edoえど江戸) period: 1615-1868.

Terms such as Muromachi, Momoyama, and Edo reflect cultural designations, not dynastic ones. Ashikaga あしかが足利is the name of the shogunal family which headed the bakufu ばくふ幕府 (literally “tent government,” the term applied to the shogun’s government) that controlled Japan during the Muromachiむろまち室町 period. During theももやまperiod, Japan was dominated byおだのぶながandとよとみひでよし; ももやま is the name of the sumptuous castle built byひでよしin 1593 on the hill ofふしみ, south ofきょと. The emperor, while technically headed the court during these periods, virtually served the role of a symbolic figure.

Are you still awake? Ok, let’s give you a taste of the monuments from theむろまちperiod, the era that preceded our main subject, theももやまperiod.

The first image is an anonymous painting, Portrait of a Mounted Warrior, traditionally identified as Ashikaga Takauji (Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk. 14th c.); it shows what the firstあしかがshogun might have looked like.

The other picture shows the famous Kinkakujiきんかくじ金閣寺, the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion.” It was first built byあしかがよしみつ in 1397. You will have to wait until next week for more on theきんかくじ, because I am hungry and in desperately need of chocolate.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

painting in the ももやま(桃山) period

こんばわ みなさん。Beginning this week, I will post a series of blogs about the painting of the ももやまperiod. By doing this, I get the chance to practice my にほんごand you will get to learn about Japanese art.

さと せんせい。 ありがと ございます。 I am glad that you made us create our own blogs and post comments. Otherwise, how would I ever get these people to pay attention to Japanese art history?

Monday, September 10, 2007

my surrender to blogging (in Japanese)

After years of resisting the ubiquitous blogs and blogging activities, I have finally created my own blog. Actually, I had to do it because it is part of my Japanese class. Sato Sensei broke down my resistance toward blogging by requiring us to start blogging in Japanese. Well, I do know how to write "sushi" and "sake" in hiragana, so I am on my way! Ja mata raishu!