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War and Disaster in Japanese Prints

June 17, 2011 - June 17, 2011

During the Meiji period two significant wars were fought and won, one against China in 1894-1895, and the other against Russia in 1904-1905. There was an avalanche of prints dealing with these wars produced in Japan, especially referencing the Sino-Japanese War.

They were distributed throughout the country and some even overseas. The prints were usually commissioned by the propaganda office in Tokyo. Their purpose was to stir up national pride and support for the war efforts. These patriotic images helped to create a sense of national unity. About forty war prints will be featured.

Another subject matter for Japanese prints was the depiction of natural disasters like earthquakes with accompanying tsunami waves and fires. The disastrous consequences of three major Japanese earthquakes in 1855, 1896 and 1923 with major loss of life and property will be featured. Some of the prints were made in lieu of having photography at the exact time of the disaster and to commemorate and inform people of the tragedies through images. About twenty earthquake prints will be featured.

This exhibition was planned and scheduled about a year ago before the tragic earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. It does bring home the fact that Japan has long experienced horrific earthquakes throughout their history. Our prayers and good wishes go out to them.

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