Ogata Korin’s Irises

Lightly edited on January 31, 2022.

The last of the irises in the Nezu Museum gardens. Photo by H. McGaughey

Tokyo, Japan It rained today, but I had a strong urge to get out and do something, so I went to the Nezu Museum for the last day of an exhibition that included Ogata Kōrin’s pair of folding screens depicting irises (kakitsubatazu).

The museum is located in Omotesandō, an area where many upscale fashion designers have elaborate boutiques, and yet the Nezu Museum itself bridges contemporary design and tradition.  It’s main building was recently rebuilt in metal and glass. Yet its vast tile roof, deep eves, and dim lighting are reminiscent of traditional Japanese architecture.

Behind the museum gallery, the large traditional garden has four tea houses, all of which were in use today by women in gorgeous kimono ostensibly engaged in private tea ceremonies within the clay walls, paper covered windows, and thatched roofs.