Thursday, May 25, 2006

Asakura Fumio

Late last year, my world-hopping cousin, Doug Miller, visited Tokyo and emailed me about the "father of modern Japanese sculpture" -- a.k.a. -- "The Rodin of the Orient" -- a.k.a. Asakura Fumio (1883-1964 -- and finally -- I've gotten around to looking him up.

The problem is though --- his Tokyo home/garden/studio is more famous than his sculpture. I guess it's a beautiful place -- and on the list of small museums to visit when traveling --- but even though it seems that Fumio made A LOT of sculpure -- very little is on the internet -- there's nothing in the A.I.C. library -- and no books have been found.

Here's the master at work -- and I suppose that this whole set-up (nude models, armatures, standing clay figures) was a bizarre event in the Japanese culture at the time. (maybe it still is)

I'm also guessing that he made many life-size nudes -- but the only one I found was this figure from a Tokyo train station on a travelers blogsite. Why are there none from local museums or pages of local attractions ?

He was also famous for depicting the life of cats -- and this was one I liked.

This is another tourist picture -- this time from his home/museum. The museum has a website -- with pictures of the contemporary sculpture on display -- but nothing by the old master himself. (I find this very curious)

This is a monument to Admiral Makoto Saito (who was assasinated by right-wing militants in the years leading up to WWII). A very majestic piece.

And, although I hate it, this may be his most famous work -- installed in front of his home/studio. What happened ? Rodin's "Gates of Hell" seem to have inspired several multi-figure compositions around the world (including Chicago) -- and all the ones I've seen (including Rodin's) have been disasters.

I assume that Fumio had many students over his long life -- and so far, the best one I've found has been his daughter, Kyoko, who, if still living, would be in her eighties by now.

The two pieces above are by Asakura Kyoko.


Anonymous marie said...

interesting post. I just went to the museum and am blogging about it!

June 04, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thankyou, Marie, for sharing the memories of your trip --
and thanks especially for posting a picture of this


Wouldn't it be neat if all the bloggers who visited that museum would post pictures of their favorite pieces ?

June 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to model for kyoko in the early 90s when I was in high school. I remember standing for hours on a rotating stand in that studio (she worked in her father's studio before it became a museum)...she was an interesting person...would always ask me to bring photos of friends and family and ask many questions about what my life was like at the time...I sat for a couple of is in chitose airport now.

December 28, 2009  
Blogger chris miller said...


Do you have any photos of that statue in the airport?

December 28, 2009  
Blogger anpan said...

Sorry, I just found my way back to your blog and saw your question...I did find some pictures online (from chitose airport's website!) I am in Tokyo at the moment and was disappointed to discover that the museum is closed for restoration until 2013.

here's a link to the airport website, scroll down to the sculpture titled 'Anne'. It's the only piece by Asakura Kyoto...

January 19, 2010  

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