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Pines in the Snow and Dragons at Mount Fuji
Seasonal Motifs from Japan

20.12.2023 to 11.03.2024
Humboldt Forum

The temporary presentation of artworks to mark the passing of the seasons or particular events is not only a traditional practice that can still be observed in Japan and other countries of East Asia, it is also one of the inspirations behind the quarterly rotation of exhibits in the Japanese art display at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst.

This current display of objects from the collection is organised around winter motifs, such as the snowy landscapes or snow-covered pine trees on a pair of six-part folding screens. These were produced by the painter Kawabata Gyokushō (1852–1914) in response to a work by his influential Kyoto-based colleague Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795). In a direct dialogue with this piece, a number of cranes and pine trees by Ōkyo will also be on display. These figures once adorned sliding doors in a Buddhist temple, but were later repurposed into folding screens. Winter landscapes by Matsumura Goshun (1752–1811), Komai Genki (1747–1797) and Yokoi Kinkoku (1761–1832), along with a landscape by a painter from the 19th-century Kano School, which is believed to be based on a composition by Ōkyo, evince the influence of this artist’s painting style, which was based on the forms found in nature. Motifs such as digging out young pine trees so that they could be used as New Year’s decorations, as well as the combination of plants that retain their leaves or even blossom in the colder seasons – such as pines, bamboo, and plumb or apricot blossoms – provide further seasonal accents.

Privately published colour woodcut prints, which are typically given as presents at New Year’s celebrations, serve as a reference to the arrival of 2024, which in East Asia will be a year of the dragon, as is reflected in some of the prints, one of which depicts a dragon at Mount Fuji. We hope that they bring all our visitors a happy end to the year and a prosperous 2024.


Pines in the Snow and Dragons at Mount Fuji is a temporary presentation by the Museum für Asiatische Kunst at the Humboldt Forum, room 318, “Art from Japan”.

Buddha (Pakistan, 2--3. century) in the module "Buddhist Art in South Asia. Stupas, Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas" of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in the Humboldt Forum
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst / Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss / Alexander Schippel

Permanent exhibition

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