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Opening of the Tomioka Shigenori Collection Gallery

Professor Kyoko Asai
Waseda University Aizu Museum

On May 11th, the Shigenori Tomioka Collection Gallery opened at the rear of the 1st floor hall at the Aizu Museum (Waseda Campus, Building No. 2). This gallery was established for year-round public exhibition of the collection of the former Tomioka Art Museum. As described below, this year's exhibition was planned to provide museum visitors with the opportunity to see what kind of works are included in the collection and to experience the appeal of those works.

1. "The Collection of Shigenori Tomioka" May 12th to June 29th

Works from many different fields are exhibited in this gallery. These works include two illustrations based on Hokke-Kyo sutras (Muromachi Period). These two illustrations were used on the shoji (paper-screen doors) for the mikoshi (portable shrine) of Usa-Hachimangu Shrine. Other works include kohitsugire(*1), as well as calligraphic works and paintings of Zen Buddhist monks such as Shunpo Soki and Ousen Keisan of the Muromachi Period, and Hakuin Ekaku and Sengai Gibon of the Edo Period. The collection also features a tang san cai (tri-color glazed pottery) horse, ceramic wares from Japan and China, a haniwa (terra-cotta clay) figurine of a woman and a modern figurine of mother and child.

*1) Kohitsugire
Kohitsu (Outstanding poems written from the Nara Period to the Muromachi Period. These poems gained popularity as decorations due to prevalence of the tea ceremony.) that were written in ancient calligraphy and conveyed in the form of scrolls or books. These items were cut to form hanging scrolls or for pressing into tekagami (collections of ancient calligraphy).

2. "Chinese Ceramics-From Gyoshoki(*2) to Qing" July 4th to September 14th (museum closed from August 4th to August 31st)

Illustration of women in Wucai porcelain, red glazed-over porcelain; China, Ming Dynasty

Oriental ceramics are one of the pillars of this collection. Mr. Tomioka preferred large works and he collected a great number of large ornamental ceramics from the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty of China. This large number of works from the Qing Dynasty in a ceramic collection assembled from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s is said to be quite rare. Furthermore, beginning from when he conceived the construction of an art museum, Mr. Tomioka began to actively purchase works from before the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. From colored clay wares of the Neolithic Period to works from the Qing Dynasty, this exhibition reflects upon the history of Chinese ceramics through the works of the collection.

*2) Gyoshoki
A cultural period within the Neolithic Period of China.

3."Calligraphic Works & Paintings of Hakuin" September 24th to November 21st"

Illustration of Kourikanon, Hakuin Ekaku (1685 to 1768), Edo Period

Together with oriental ceramics, modern Zen calligraphic works and paintings are another essential part of the collection. This year, the museum is exhibiting the works of Hakuin, who is called the restorer of the modern Rinzai Zen Buddhism. In recent years, many of the calligraphic works and paintings done by Hakuin in his 40s and 50s have been introduced. However, it is thought that he seriously began to paint once he entered his 60s. Museum visitors can enjoy the variety of subjects found in his works, as well as the changes in his painting style that occurred as he aged into his 60s, 70s, and 80s.

4. "Modern Paintings of the Former Tomioka Art Museum" November 28th, 2009 to February 4th, 2010 (museum closed from December 23rd to January 7th)

Illustration of Nude Woman, Tomoe Yabe (1892 to 1981), 1924

This exhibition includes several dozen works of both Tetsusai Tomioka and Saneatsu Mushanokoji. Also included are works of Gaho Hashimoto, Kanzan Shimomura, Kansetsu Hashimoto and Kunishiro Mitsutani. Furthermore, the exhibition features Tomoe Yabe's "Nude Woman", a work which often received requests for inclusion in exhibitions held in the 1920s during the period of the Tomioka Art Museum. This work was exhibited at other museums more often than it was at the Tomioka Art Museum.

5."The Beauty of Calligraphy" March 1st, 2010 to April 24th

In addition to the kohitsugire and the tekagami(*3) entitled "Chirihasu (Scattered Lotus)" that were displayed in the first exhibition, this exhibition features other calligraphic works selected from the collection. These works include another tekagami entitled "Bunsai (Figure of Speech)", two folding books known by the name of "The Written Legacy of the Katsu Family", and calligraphy by Zen Buddhist monks.

This collection was donate to the Aizu Museum in spring of 2004. In the 5 years since the donation, the collection was introduced through exhibitions held once a year in a special gallery of the museum, and through the permanent gallery. I would now like to discuss the Tomioka Art Museum. On July 26th, 1979, the Tomioka Art Museum received authorization for establishment as a foundation from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education. The museum was opened in the Sanno neighborhood of Ota Ward on August 1st of the same year. The museum was a remodeled private residence of Shigenori Tomioka, and exhibitions based on his collection were held 4 times a year. Museum visitors also enjoyed a garden with camellia and flowers that bloomed in all of the four seasons. After a quarter of a century had passed, the museum foundation was dissolved on December 5th, 2003.

The collection of the Tomioka Art Museum is based on more than 890 works gathered over many years by Shigenori Tomioka (1896 to 1979), who was the first President of Japan Metals & Chemicals Co., Ltd. The collection also includes more than 10 works donated and purchased during the period of the art museum. I have heard that the collection of Shigenori Tomioka began in 1945 with the acquisition of colored imari pottery with a phoenix design. Serving tea was one form of entertaining guests, but the selection of a tea cup to match the season or the taste of the guest was an important preparation preformed before serving the tea. Perhaps for this reason, the museum housed more than 20 Goryeo (Korean) tea cups and more than 20 Japanese tea cups. When Chinese tea cups are included, a total of approximately 50 pieces from the collection are tea cups. It is said the Mr. Tomioka stated that "a tea cup and a tea whisk are all that is needed" in order to fully enjoy tea. Currently, there is no way to confirm the validity of this statement. However, there are not many tea utensils other than tea cups that could be used to allow free arrangement of utensils. Mr. Tomioka worked hard to develop the ferroalloy industry, he achieved Japan's first corporatization of geothermal power generation, and although he was never able to achieve implementation, he proposed a vision for wind-generated power. This magnanimous vision as a businessman could also be seen in his taste for large works as a collector. His collection of ceramics seems to have begun from practical items intended to entertain guests, but his focus then shifted to works such as large ornamental pottery from the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty of China. A characteristic of his collection from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s is the wide variety of single-colored glazed pottery from the Qing Dynasty, items which are not seen very often in Japan. During the oil shock which occurred in the early 1970s, Mr. Tomioka parted with several outstanding works such as a large piece of old Kutani porcelain. After this period, his interest seems to have shifted to the calligraphic works and paintings of Hakuin, Sengai, and other Zen Buddhist monks from the Edo Period. In particular, regarding the disciples of Hakuin, it is possible to use the works to trace back to teachers of Zen Buddhism as far as the early Meiji Period. Perhaps the tea ceremony was in Mr. Tomioka's consciousness as he sought to collect the calligraphy of monks from the Daitokuji sect. The remaining writings include Kurt Brasch's "Zenga (Zen Picture" and Hakuin's "Yasenkanna (A Quiet Talk in a Night Boat)". Also included are a "Dictionary of Zen Terminology", "Excerpts from Zen Phrases" and other books which provide clues when the Zen writing is difficult to read. These books contain notes written by Mr. Tomioka himself. I have heard that Mr. Tomioka often hung the one-line poem "shinshin-mubetsushin" (reflections on worldly phenomenon and the state of the human heart), written by the monk Tenyu shoko, in the alcove of his residence.

Materials which have not yet been engraved, from the Shunjo Ichijima Seal Collection

In this way, the collection of the Tomioka Art Museum is based on the two pillars of oriental ceramics and modern Zen Buddhist writings and paintings. However the collection also spans in a variety of directions including tea utensils, Buddhist carvings, paintings, writings, and archaeological items. Also, the seal collection of Shunjo Ichijima was acquired by Mr. Tomioka during the last years of his life, and Mr. Tomioka is said to have enjoyed the organization of the seals until immediately before his death due to illness. This collection is composed of approximately 700 of the 1,000 seals gathered by Mr. Ichijima during his life. Also included are many unique works that have a deep connection with Waseda University, such as the "Instructor" seal which is the calligraphy of Yaichi Aizu and the "Waseda Library" seal which was made by Zoroku Hamamura V.

Since this collection entered the Aizu Museum, a number of books have been published in conjunction with the previously mentioned exhibition activities. These books include "Famous Illustrations of the Tomioka Shigenori Collection" (2004), "Collection of the Former Tomioka Art Museum: The Written Legacy of the Katsu Family" (2006), "Collection of the Former Tomioka Art Museum: Catalog of Zen Buddhist Writings and Paintings" (2007), and "Collection of the Former Tomioka Art Museum: Comprehensive Catalog of the Shunjo Ichijima Seal Collection" (2008). This year, the museum is planning to publish a "Ceramic Catalog" for the entire Aizu Museum, including ceramics from the collection of the former Tomioka Art Museum. Another theme is the publishing of the tekagami entitled "Bunsai (Figure of Speech)". In the future, in addition to displaying the collection through these kinds of catalogs, I hope to hold exhibition activities that will allow museum visitors to fully enjoy the viewing of works in our gallery. I hope that you will visit the Aizu Museum many times throughout the year.

*3) Tekagami
Books which were pasted with classical kohitsugire for use by appraisers in evaluating ancient calligraphy. Tekagami were one of the items gathered in preparation for marriage by children of noble or samurai families.

Waseda University Aizu Museum
Tomioka Shigenori Collection Gallery

Museum Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (last entrance at 4:30 PM)
The museum is closed on Sundays, holidays, university holidays, and during exchange of exhibitions.
Admission Fee: Free
TEL : 03-5286-3835
FAX : 03-5286-1812
WEB : http://www.waseda.jp/aizu/index-j.html

*The illustrations introduced in this article are for sale at the front counter of the museum.

Professor Kyoko Asai
Waseda University Aizu Museum

Former cultural manager at the Tomioka Art Museum. Assumed a position at Waseda University in April 2004. Currently serves as a Professor in the Aizu Museum.