I have arranged with Shikibu at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It is her initiative and I am very curious why right here. The World Museum in Rotterdam was more obvious. There they have an extensive Buddha collection and even a complete Mongolian Yurt, a tent that served as a temple in the country of origin. But it has become the van Gogh museum. Walking along the works of art she appeared to sit on her proverbial chat.
After extensive greeting and the accompanying social obligations, she speaks: “Rangaku” is Japanese for “Dutch Studies”, the study of the Netherlands and Dutch as we practised it during the time that the Dutch trading post on Desjima was the only contact with the West used to be.
The first character “Ran” is an abbreviation of the phonetic transcription for “Holland” (written 阿蘭 陀 “O-Ran-Da”, abbreviated to the middle character 蘭 “Ran”). She draws the characters in a colourful Japanese notebook. “The second character “Gaku” means “Study / Skill”. ”
The name Oranda is of course known in the Netherlands by ornamental fish lovers of the goldfish with the hat. “The Study enabled my country to take note of the developments in Western technologies and surgery during the period 1641-1853, known as the sakoku or the isolation of the Tokugawa shogunate.
However, all of this is political. It is much more fun to let Van Gogh speak about Japan. He called Japan a hundred times in his letters to Theo, friends and the rest of his family. He had taken note of it through books by, among others, Emile Zola and Piere Loti, whose book Madame Chrysanthème strongly sharpened his fantasies about Japan. Together with his brother, he spared more than 400 woodcuts that are present here in the museum.
He copied three Japanese paintings and his work is strongly influenced at a given time by the art of my compatriots. In 1888, Vincent wrote to Theo: “About my stay in the South, although more expensive, you have to understand: we love Japanese painting, we have felt its influence, all impressionists have that in common, so why not go to Japan, that says the image of Japan, the South “(Letter 500). He went to the Mediterranean and there it went wrong for health.
“The Flowering Almond Tree” is perhaps the work with the clearest Japanese influences and probably finds inspiration in one of those more than 400 woodcuts in the collection of Vincent and Theo: in particular the “Three Beauties” by artist Utagawa Kunisada (1786 – 1865). ”
Shikibu laughs a little ashamed: “Sorry, it is a bit of a pedanticism for me to teach you about a fellow countryman who is also very popular in Japan, I always think of him when the Sakura festival is there.” When the fruit trees, especially The cherry blossoms, in bloom, attract Japanese lovers and walk among the beautiful trees, it is the height of romance for them, especially the painting “The flowering almond tree” and the still life “Almond blossom” are in my mind during that festival. Incidentally, Vincent van Gogh’s letter book can be found in many Japanese bookshelves. ”
Of course, I could not let it sit on me and with a smile, I told her about two reproductions that I have in my possession:
“Cherry blossom in Asukayama” and “catching fireflies.” The first is by Torii Kiyonaga a very famous ukiyo-e (woodcut) artist. He named himself after his adoptive father and teacher Torii Kiyomitsu who was the name giver of a very famous ukkyo-e school.
Kiyonaga is seen as one of the great masters of the full-colour Nishiki-e prints. Among other things, he made performances of courtesans and beautiful women, Kabuki actors and promotion material for theatres. The Impressionists also often earned a living by making advertising posters.
“The catching of fireflies” is from Eishōsai Chōki. This artist, also known as Momokawa Chōki, is popular because of the woodcuts of beautiful, slender women often with a nice atmospheric background.
“I can observe the records for hours,” I tell Shikibu, “but I do not really understand them.” You will have to be an artist like Vincent van Gogh, I think, to really get to the heart of this art. once a huge difference between the Japanese way of looking and that of our Europeans ”
“Maybe, maybe not,” reflects Shikibu. “You really understand the essence of Nishikigoi, which is a” product of Japanese art. “I heard in Niigata that the koi was first held in England and that they were then flown to the European mainland. that you were responsible for keeping the first koi show here in Arcen? ”
“Yes, I found these gardens together with René Krüter by chance, he had to bring some fish to Germany and I drove along with him, then on the way back we saw the castle’s nameplates and we went inside. We picked up some water and René grew Cichlids in. Water tested, show grounds and gardens were good and the first show was there. ”
Shikibu was beaming. “And that is my home now. I know Niigata is very grateful for this show because it has been the start of the growth of the hobby throughout Europe and maybe even worldwide. From that first Holland Koishow, the fish have chosen momentum and they swam all over the world. ”
“It’s all due to coincidence and the beauty of the fish is primarily due to their popularity, but now it’s time to bring the Castle Gardens, Koi and Japanese culture closer together, but I believe that now you’re going there live great steps can be taken.
A good start is that we have given the start of a Japanese infrastructure. We named the aquarium tent the Japanese name Suizokukan. Of course, the visitor will have to get used to it, but it gives a good impression of the deep connection with Japan. Nippon Mura is the Japanese village. That is the place where Shikibu will eventually have a seat. We try to show Japanese culture in all its beauty but sometimes also in all its rhythms and dance. Ibento Kaijo is the do square where a lot of knowledge about koi can be gained.
“Did you know Shikibu” that there is a Nishikigoi with the name Goten Sakura Kohaku. It is indeed a Koi with cherry-like markings. ”
It would, of course, be nice if the show grounds were given the name Niigata and the upper terrain a name that would do justice to the traders. But it would be even better if there would be a lane somewhere with cherry trees so that we could also walk in love with flowers here in the Netherlands during the Sakura festival. Now that is only possible in the parking lot and that is not really pleasant.
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