“Cherry Blossoms” reflects on the long tradition of flower viewing in Japanese culture with vivid color woodblock prints by ukiyo-e master artists, photographs, color lithographic posters and Kōkichi Tsunoi’s exquisite watercolor drawings from 1921. The book highlights the rich connections between Japan’s centuries-old traditions and contemporary counterparts. The American public’s affection for the blossoms is revealed in vintage and contemporary photographs of the Tidal Basin, collections related to the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Cherry Blossom Princess Program, as well as decades’ worth of creatively designed festival posters.
Vibrant springtime traditions of cherry blossom viewing in Japan and Washington, D.C., are explored in the new book “Cherry Blossoms: Sakura Collections from the Library of Congress,” published today by Smithsonian Books, in association with the Library of Congress.
Visual art, including prints, drawings and photographs from the Library’s collections, provide a fresh look at the tradition of cherry blossom celebrations that originated more than 1,200 years ago. Japan shared the tradition with the United States when they presented the nation’s capital with 3,020 cherry trees in 1912. Ever since, D.C. residents and visitors have been mesmerized by the trees and have joined in the festivities of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which draws more than 1.5 million visitors each year.
Fascinating Facts about Cherry Blossom Traditions:
It started over 1,200 years ago…with plum blossoms! The Japanese custom of flower viewing, or hanami, is thousands of years old. Beginning in the 9th century, saplings and trees were brought down from the mountains to grace the gardens of the aristocracy. The practice was first associated with plum (ume) blossoms before it became linked almost exclusively with cherry blossoms during the Heian period (794-1185).
A feudal warlord threw some of the most lavish parties. Before it became popular with people at all levels of society, cherry blossom viewing in Japan was reserved for the elite. Legendary feudal warlord and samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-98) sponsored some of history’s most lavish cherry blossom-viewing events. His 1594 celebration at Mount Yoshino included a poetry party, a nō play, and a hanami party with 5,000 guests. In 1598, he built hillside teahouses to accommodate guests for his party at Kyoto’s Daigoji temple and transplanted 700 cherry trees to the site.
Blossoms Symbolize Fleeting Delights in Life. Cherry blossoms are heralds of spring, but their short blooming period also evokes the ephemeral beauty of life. Edo period (1603-1868) hanami celebrations featured the pleasure of food and drink, poetry and music – tinged with wistful appreciation of the fleeting beauty of both blossoms and earthly delights. This tradition continues. The transitory beauty of life becomes vivid when gusty spring winds end the blooming season with showers of drifting petals, an effect the Japanese call hanafubuki (cherry blossom blizzard).
A “Field of Cherries” in Potomac Park? It took the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers three decades to transform the low-lying area known as Potomac Flats into Potomac Park. A 1914 sightseer map of Washington features the new park and labels the road around the west end of the Tidal Basin as the “Speedway.” U.S. Department of Agriculture botanist David Fairchild and cherry tree advocate Eliza Scidmore promoted the site as an ideal place for a “field of cherries.”
Not all cherry blossoms are pink. Cherry blossoms varieties include multiple colors: white, pink, yellow – even green. Twelve different varieties of cherry blossom trees were sent from the city of Tokyo to Washington D.C. in 1912. While most were the white-pink Somei Yoshino, there were also 10 different varieties of double-flowered (or manifold) trees, one variety with green blossoms, called Gyoikō, and some varieties with fragrance. The trees around today’s Tidal Basin are limited primarily to Somei Yoshino and Kwan-Zan.
Authors Mari Nakahara and Katherine Blood, both curators in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, present a comprehensive view of the history of this annual celebration, illustrated by prints, posters, photographs and artifacts from the Library’s rich collections.
The vivid photographs are arranged according to the signs’ imagery, with sections such as Spirit of the West, On the Road, Now That’s Entertainment, and Ladies, Diving Girls & Mermaids. Sixteen of the most iconic landmark signs include brief histories on how that unique sign came to be. A resource section includes a photography index by location and a Neon Museums Visitor’s Guide.
Take to the road to discover the history and artistry of North America’s disappearing neon signs.
Neon Road Trip chronicles the history of the commercial neon sign with a curated collection of photographs capturing the most colorful and iconic neon still surviving today.
John Barnes studied art, graphic design, sculpture and photography, earning a BFA degree in documentary photography from the University of Delaware 1984. He worked as a commercial advertising photographer for over fifteen years both on the east coast and in San Francisco, and has been a fine art photographer for the last 30 years. He recently spent the last two years traveling around the United States and Canada photographing iconic neon signs. John resides in Seattle but spends most of his time traveling taking photographs.
With imagery from the likes of David Bailey, Duffy and Terence Donovan, designs from Peter Blake, David Hockney, Gerald Scarfe and fledgling artist Ian Dury plus words and opinions from those riding high on the city`s cutting-edge, London Life remains the coolest document from the capital’s most exciting period.
While many books, films and documentaries claim to have captured the phenomenon that was Swinging London, just one magazine was present in the capital during the 1960s to illustrate this extraordinary moment as it unravelled. London Life emerged in October 1965 and, over the next fifteen months, would document the capital s action at its absolute zenith.
Collected for the first time, including forewords from Peter Blake and David Puttnam and a scene-setting introduction from Simon Wells, London Life offers a remarkable and candid view on a period when London was the creative hub of the world.
“Iceland’s glacial rivers are nature’s abstract paintings. It seems obvious that rivers this wild and stunning are protected, yet the harsh reality is that many have been dammed, mainly to provide power for aluminum plants.
A massive conservation movement is underway to preserve these rivers, but will it succeed? At Glacier’s End gives a voice to Iceland’s glacial rivers – providing both a cultural and environmental perspective – on the journey from glacier to sea.”
“Hélène Binet has emerged as one of the leading architectural photographers in the world. Every time Hélène Binet takes a photograph, she exposes architecture’s achievements, strength, pathos and fragility.”
Hélène Binet was born in 1959 in Sorengo and is of both Swiss and French background. She currently lives in London with her husband Raoul Bunschoten and their two children, Izaak and Saskia. She studied photography at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome, where she grew up, and soon developed an interest in architetural photography.
Over a period of twenty-five years Hélène Binet has photographed both contemporary and historical architecture. Her list of clients include architects Raoul Bunschoten, Caruso St John, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Studio Mumbai, Peter Zumthor and many others. While following the work of contemporary architects – often from construction through completion – Hélène Binet has also photographed the works of past architects as Alvar Aalto, Geoffrey Bawa, Le Corbusier, Sverre Fehn, John Hejduk, Sigurd Lewerentz, Andrea Palladio and Dimitris Pikionis. More recently, Hélène Binet has started to direct her attention to landscape photography, wherein she transposes key concerns of her architectural photography. Hélène Binet’s work has been published in a wide range of books, and is shown in both national and international exhibitions.
Hélène Binet is an advocate of analogue photography and therefore she exclusively works with film.
From the colorful coastline of Cinque Terre and the quiet ports of the Aeolian Islands to the Renaissance architecture of Florence and the best pizza in Rome, every section features insider secrets and off-the-beaten-path recommendations (for example, a little restaurant in Piedmont known for its tajarin, a pasta that is the perfect bed for the region’s celebrated truffles).
This lush guide, featuring more than 350 glorious photographs from National Geographic, showcases the best Italy has to offer from the perspective of two women who have spent their lives reveling in its unique joys. In these illuminating pages, Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun and many other bestsellers, and New York Times travel writer Ondine Cohane reveal an Italy that only the locals know, filled with top destinations and unforgettable travel experiences in every region.
Here are the best places to stay, eat, and tour, paired with the rich history of each city, hillside town, and unique terrain. Along the way, you’ll make stops at the country’s hidden gems–art galleries, local restaurants, little-known hiking trails, spas, and premier spots for R&R. Inspiring and utterly unique, this vivid treasury is a must-have for anyone who wants to experience the best of Italy.
Filled with gently undulating hills, golden stone buildings, pristine vineyards, and glorious art, central Italy epitomizes the joys of this country. Do you love exquisite Renaissance architecture, painting, and sculpture, along with artisanal shopping? Or do you seek medieval winding alleys and formidable fortresses along with adrenaline-filled festivals? Head to Siena, where a central grand piazza hosts the Palio, the bareback horse race that has been a town fixture for centuries. Perhaps you love pasta along with architecture? Head to Rome, where layers upon layers of history unveil themselves as you walk past treasures like the Forum or the Circus Maximus, all within sight of vibrant new cafés and bars and beloved trattorias.
In Piedmont’s Barolo and Barbaresco wine-growing districts, vintners aren’t allowed to plant the sacred nebbiolo grape on north-facing hillsides, so hazelnut trees often fill those slopes. That most nutty of nuts, blended with rich chocolate, is a marriage of true minds, although the wedding was originally one of convenience. In the early 19th century, when trade embargoes and the Napoleanic wars caused chocolate imports to shrink, nuts extended the quantity. Turin, gateway to the castle-topped, hills of Piedmont, is one of the primo food cities in Europe. It’s regal, thanks to the palaces, ballrooms, libraries, and gardens of the Savoy rulers, who also infused the cuisine with French influences. Vintage and new trams run around the centro. The tree-lined streets, shady river walks, and numerous parks keep this the greenest city in Italy.
In Your Glass
The majority of Lazio’s wines are white. Frascati is ubiquitous. There’s that word: drinkable. And they are. Light and summery, they’re able to heft a bit of gravitas too. From the island of Ponza, Casale del Giglio sends forth the chalky, fruity Biancolella Faro della Guardia. Biancolella is a grape variety grown only on the island. Three vineyards stand out for consistent high quality. Montiano, a merlot, is one of the region’s best wines. Next is the Sergio Mottura winery, known for its grechetto, Poggio della Costa. This pale beauty, with a whiff of citrus blossoms and stone, garners top ratings and the bonus of being well priced. Poggio Le Volpi’s Bacca Rossa, from the nero buono grape, makes an earthy and spicy partner to pasta with sausage and four cheeses. In Rome, wine nuts must feel a magnetic pull to Ristorante Casa Bleve.