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.