Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art Celebrate Japanese Arts and Culture for the 2015 Cherry Blossom Festival

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, will host an array of events in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.’s popular springtime celebration, including a daylong family event  March 28 exploring Japanese art, crafts, film and fashion, themed ArtJamz painting parties and a book signing of the new commemorative publication Cherry Blossoms featuring artwork from the collections.

Visitors can also see cherry trees bloom starting March 7 in “Seasonal Landscapes in Japanese Screens,” an exhibition featuring Japanese  painted folding screens from the 16th and 17th centuries.

On Saturday, March 28, the galleries will host a premiere event of the National Cherry BlossomFestival, “Cherry Blossom Celebration,” a free, family day where visitors can unleash their inner artist with Washington’s popular ArtJamz, take guided tours exploring nature in Japanese arts and browse vintage Japanese kimono for purchase. Anime fans can view classic sci-fi anime films, including the 3-D epic Harlock: Space Pirate, and meet legendary anime director Shinji Aramaki.  

Throughout the spring, guests can learn about other well-known expressions of Japanese culture in “Zen, Tea, and Chinese Art in Medieval Japan”–such as Zen Buddhism, tea drinking and ink painting, which emerged in the 12th-16th centuries. Also on view will be  “Oribe Ware: Color and Pattern Come to Japanese Ceramics,” an exhibition on the renowned style that introduced vivid pattern and color to Japanese ceramics in 1605.  In addition, cherry blossom enthusiasts anywhere in the world can share the splendor of the season digitally with a new suite of free e-cards featuring artworks from the Freer and Sackler collections, available online

Visit for the complete schedule of programs.


Featured Exhibition

Seasonal Landscapes in Japanese Screens

March 7-Sept. 7


Cherry trees bloom in this selection of folding screen paintings from the Freer Gallery. These landscapes from the 16th and early 17th centuries combine ink-painting techniques assimilated from China with the vibrant color and gold of traditional Japanese painting in a new style and grand scale.

Special Event

Cherry Blossom Celebration

Saturday, March 28; 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Freer and Sackler

The Freer and Sackler Galleries celebrate the 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival with a day filled with Japanese art, films, family activities, a book signing and a special store event.


Nature in the Arts of Japan

11:15 a.m., 12:15, 1:15 and 3:15 p.m.


Building on the theme of this year’s festival, “Our Natural World,” these tours explore how Japanese artists incorporated nature-based imagery into a variety of media. Learn about the works’ importance in Japanese culture, past and present.


Cherry Blossom Anime: Shinji Aramaki in Person

11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Freer, Meyer Auditorium
Join legendary anime director Shinji Aramaki as he introduces and discusses two of his films. Cosponsored by Otakorp Inc.

Harlock: Space Pirate

Saturday, March 28; 11 a.m.

Inspired by a wildly popular 1970s television series, Harlock: Space Pirate is a 3-D sci-fi adventure with eye-popping CGI effects. Followed by a Q&A with director Shinji Aramaki.

Appleseed: Alpha

Saturday, March 28; 3 p.m.

A female soldier and her cyborg partner roam a World War III-ravaged New York in search of the legendary city of Olympus–mankind’s last hope. Followed by a Q&A with director Shinji Aramaki.


ArtJamz: Cherry Blossoms

2-4 p.m.
Sackler sublevel 2, ImaginAsia classroom
Visitors can unleash their inner artist and discover the beauty of cherry blossoms in Japanese art during a painting party hosted by Washington’s popular ArtJamz. The event will start with a guided tour of the Freer, and then visitors will create their own masterpieces to take home. All materials included; all ages welcome. Advanced registration required:

Trunk Show

Vintage Japanese Garments

11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sackler store, sublevel 1

Presented by Kyoto Kimono, this shopping event includes vintage kimono, haori jackets, obi, décor items and fashion accessories created from vintage Japanese textiles. Kyoto Kimono owner Nancy McDonough demonstrates how to wear and care for kimono. Traditional Japanese crafts and teas are also featured.

Book Signing

Cherry Blossoms

1-3 p.m.
Sackler shop, sublevel 1

Released just in time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, this keepsake book features cherry blossoms from the Freer|Sackler collections. The flower features prominently in Japanese art; magnificent renderings by masters such as Hiroshige and Hokusai range from serene blossoms among tall evergreens to surreal showers of petals. Cherry Blossoms is richly illustrated with grand screens, woodblock prints and works in ink on silk. The text by James T. Ulak and Howard S. Kaplan demonstrates the flower’s deep-rooted symbolism and timeless appeal.

After-hours Events

ArtJamz: Cherry Blossoms

Thursdays, March 26 and April 9; 7-9 p.m.

Freer and Sackler

Visitors can unleash their inner artist and discover the beauty of cherry blossoms in Japanese art during a painting party hosted by Washington’s popular ArtJamz. The event will start with a guided tour of the Freer, and then visitors can create their own masterpiece in the Sackler’s ImaginAsia classroom accompanied by friends, drinks and music. All materials and refreshments included; ages 21 and over only. Advanced registration required: Discount for Silk Road Society members:


Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance Troupe

Thursday, April 9; 12 p.m.

Freer, National Mall entrance
Thundering taiko drumming meets traditional Japanese dance in a special performance on the National Mall. Led and choreographed by Kabuki dance master Isaburoh Hanayagi, this troupe is one of the top-ranking taiko groups in Japan and comes from the country’s most prestigious performing arts school.


Zen, Tea and Chinese Art in Medieval Japan

Through June 14


Zen Buddhism, tea drinking and ink painting–well-known expressions of Japanese culture–have their roots in Chinese arts and ideas introduced to medieval Japan from the late 12th to the 16th century. By the end of that period, arts and customs from Song, Yuan and Ming dynasty China had been assimilated into Japanese culture, emerging as Japanese practices such as chanoyu, the art of tea. In this exhibition, Chinese and Japanese paintings, lacquer ware, and ceramics illuminate this remarkable period of cultural contact and synthesis.


Oribe Ware: Color and Pattern Come to Japanese Ceramics

Through June 14


Invented in Japan in 1605, Oribe ware introduced vivid pattern and color to a ceramics tradition that had previously favored somber, monochrome designs. Oribe ware vessels were used primarily for serving food and drinking tea, and their sprightly patterns with glossy black or brilliant green glazes made them a shimmering addition to 17th-century dining trays and tearooms. A major technological advance in ceramics–the Motoyashiki multichamber climbing kiln, which allowed potters to melt glazes to dazzling translucency–made this radically new appearance possible. This exhibition highlights the best selections of Oribe ware in the Freer’s collection, including two new acquisitions on view for the first time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.