Back to News

Falling Blossoms, Floating World

The cherry blossom, because of its intensely beautiful yet brief existence, has come to symbolize the transience of beauty and life in Japan. In the 17th century, cherry blossoms became associated with the hedonism of the pleasure districts that flourished in Edo, glorified by Asai Ryōi in his famous novel Ukiyo Monogatari (“Tales of the Floating World”) of 1661: “living only for the moment, savoring the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms, and the maple leaves, singing songs, drinking sake, and diverting oneself just in floating, unconcerned by the prospect of imminent poverty, buoyant and carefree, like a gourd carried along with the river current: this is what we call ukiyo.”

A selection of ukiyo-e or “pictures of the floating world” complements Ayomi Yoshida’s installation about the threatened existence of cherry blossoms. Drawing on the fine Japanese art collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Flaten Art Museum’s considerable holdings of prints by Yoshida family artists, and Carleton’s own Special Collections, Falling Blossoms, Floating World examines the many faces of sakura, the cherry blossom, and the enduring tradition of hanami (“flower viewing”).
Relevant research areas: East Asia, Relief printing

Leave a Reply