Kuniyoshi at the Royal Academy

An enjoyable day.

Met a colleague at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly to take in the new Kuniyoshi exhibition (of Japanese wood block art) that opened at the end of last month. Loved it! Really is my kind of thing.

The Royal Academy of Arts presents an exhibition on one of the greatest Japanese print artists, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). Featuring over 150 works, the exhibition presents Kuniyoshi as a master of imaginative design. It reveals the graphic power and beauty of his prints across an unprecedented range of subjects highlighting his ingenious use of the triptych format.

The majority of the exhibition has been drawn from the outstanding collection of Professor Arthur R. Miller which has recently been donated to the American Friends of the British Museum. This is the first major exhibition in the United Kingdom on Utagawa Kuniyoshi since 1961.

These pictures are, if you like, the earliest form of comics and manga. They were hand drawn, then the master printers would carve the image onto wooden slats which they then used to mass print. Really, really good show. I enjoyed it so much I bought the catalogue (like a coffee table book, softback) to admire the images again and read about them in more detail. I am a Japan-ophile, in case that wasn’t obvious (I lived there in the late 1990s), so most things Japanese do really interest me.

After an hour or so at the (rather busy!) exhibition, I took my colleague/friend (the ex-army one) to the Japan Centre for lunch. I’ve been going there for 6 years or so. To my mind the most authentic Japanese food in London and such good value and unpretentious. It’s like a Japanese cultural centre and there’s a big supermarket, large cafe/restaurant, travel agent, etc. Really good place and somewhere you ought to visit if ever you come to London.

The (late) lunch was wonderful. We each had the kara age chicken set menu which is my favourite. As most know – I don’t eat either chicken or lamb (or veal and a number of other things) – but they use really good quality organic chicken and it’s deep fried in such a scrummy way, that this is the one time I break my own rule and do eat chicken. Served with miso soup and sticky rice. When Hen and I worked together I took her here too. We drank genmai cha which is a favourite of mine (green tea and roasted brown rice).

We then leisurely strolled to the station (through St James’ and then Green Park and then past Buckingham Palace – the front of which was packed out with tourists. Very stately Mexican flags lining the Mall as there was a state visit a couple of weeks ago). Weather has just about stayed dry so can’t complain too much. I’d just missed a train (not the end of the world) so did an M&S food shop. Stocked up on Gold Label teabags of theirs which I really like, also their sparkling water, fruit and some other random bits and pieces. At the Japan Centre I’d stocked up on genmai cha and also wasabe peas.

A good Easter Sunday.

6 thoughts on “Kuniyoshi at the Royal Academy

Add yours

  1. I can never decide whether I like this kind of art. I’d be tempted to visit if it was on up here but I wouldn’t travel down your end. Not TLP’s kid of thing at all. He’d be with you on not eating chicken though. Had a lovely day, football aside.

  2. I remember it well! Loved going there with you. Haven’t found anything similar up here yet though I’m sure there is.

    I used to go to the Royal Academy a lot with my mum followed by tea at the Ritz – miss that too.

    Sigh.

  3. I love this kind of art. Well, anything Japanese, really. Thanks for pointing this one out. I don’t have the time to make it to London, but I usually try to read up on it.

  4. SCM – I think you probably would. There were some amazing pictures. Really looking forward to going through the book in detail.

    Hen – I had a feeling it would bring back memories! We forgot to order edamame beans, too! 🙂 That said, the set was filling enough. I do love edamame though, as you know!!

    Lula – yeh, was great. His style is just amazing, really fascinates me. The other people wandering around seemed to be really enjoying it too – all ages. An audience just like the original work was intended for I guess.

  5. I’ve always stopped by the Japan Centre to grab instant miso – the proper stuff from Japan is much nicer than the junk they sell in the supermarket. I’ve never eaten in there though, and may have to now.

  6. Vic – do do go! Was telling a colleague at work and she got quite excited and is planning to go this week with a friend she has over, as they were looking for somewhere in that neck of the woods to eat.

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