Part 1 of a three-part post on the "Kome: The Art of Rice" exhibition
It came out in The Japan Times yesterday (March 11), but we all had weightier things on our mind, so I've left this post till today…
It's an excellent exhibition. And as well as being packed with information about rice, it really is very visual too. So here are a lot more images...
Starting with one of the exhibition posters:
"At New Year, round mirror-shaped kagami mochi dumplings are everywhere…"
"…there is not much fine art on display, apart from a reproduction of a wonderful ukiyo-e wood-block print triptych drawn in the 1840s by Utagawa Hiroshige."
"…Titled 'The Battle of Confectionery and Sake,' it depicts the forces of mochi (sticky rice cake) and rice-based confectionery taking on an army of sake and related rice brewing, in the style of the Genji-Heike samurai wars."
"…the 3,000 grains contained in a typical bowl of cooked rice are the yield of three bundles of stalks that have emerged from just three grains of paddy rice."
"Rice is also grown to be drunk, as we are reminded by the extensive display of sake label art — in itself a graphic illustration of how Japan’s traditional tipple is evolving a contemporary sensibility."
Lots of my favourite sake labels are on show. Here are just four of them (clockwise from top right): Shichihonyari; Tedorigawa; Izumibashi; and Kiyoizumi.
I visited and wrote about this show from the viewpoint of someone who lives here and for whom rice has been part of my (almost) daily diet for the past 40 years. You could say I have a bias.
For a more scholarly assessment of this exhibition in more "arty" terms – and for a totally different visual take on the galleries – take a look at this review in Domus.