Special Exhibition

Past Exhibition

Ukiyo-e and Tobacco Items: World-class Japanese Art

November3, Tuesday - December 13, Sunday, 2015

The Tobacco & Salt Museum opened in November 1978 in Jinnan, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. On April 25, 2015, the Museum relocated to Yokokawa, Sumida Ward, Tokyo. To mark the beginning of its 38th year in operation, the Museum will unveil a special re-opening commemorative exhibit on November 3, the anniversary of its first grand opening. This special exhibit, titled “Ukiyo-e and Tobacco Items: World-class Japanese Art,” will be displayed in the Special Exhibition Room.
The Museum currently holds over 1,800 paintings and pictures in its collection, the majority of which were acquired by the former Monopoly Bureau between 1932 and 1934. This collection, well-known since long ago as the “Monopoly Bureau Collection,” consists primarily of ukiyo-e paintings of smoking customs from the Edo and Meiji periods.
Having inherited this collection, the Tobacco & Salt Museum exhibits its works to the public at every opportunity to more widely spread knowledge of Japan’s tobacco history and culture. With this special exhibit, the Museum celebrates the 250th anniversary since the nishiki-e multi-colored woodblock printing technique was first created by Suzuki Harunobu in 1765. This exhibit features the works of 28 leading ukiyo-e artists, including Harunobu himself, as well as Kitagawa Utamaro’s “The Most Beautiful Women of the Time: The Courtesan Hana of the Ogiya,” an important work in the context of art history; and so-called ‘phantom artist’ Toshusai Sharaku’s “Actor Matsumoto Koshiro 4th as Gorobei the Fishmonger”. Although these ukiyo-e are organized by period and artist, each of them—regardless of whether of a beautiful woman, an actor, or beautiful scenery—is distinguished by its inclusion of a tobacco item within the picture (although some are salt-related instead).
Additionally, alongside these ukiyo-e paintings, the Museum has also placed on display kiseru pipes, tabakobon tobacco trays, tabakoire tobacco pouches, and other tobacco items created in the Edo and Meiji periods. Tobacco items may be practical tools, but each has a distinctive shape and design depending on when and the class of person for whom it was made. Many of these items remain beautiful works of art.
These ukiyo-e and tobacco items are items unique to our museum. I hope that, through them, you can fully experience Japan’s world-class tradition of fine art.

Matsumoto Kōshirō  IV,as the Fish Vendor Gorobe

Matsumoto Kōshirō IV,as the Fish Vendor Gorobē