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Japan classic paintings, pop idols hit U.S.

WASHINGTON (AFP) ― Japan is presenting to the United States highlights of its culture both old and new, with a rare exhibition of elaborate centuries-old nature scrolls and performances by a top-selling pop band.

Japan is seeking to make the most of the 100th anniversary of Washington’s cherry blossom trees, which were initially a gift from Tokyo and have turned into one of the U.S. capital’s most popular tourist draws.

As thousands strolled central Washington to enjoy the fleeting beauty of the cherry bloom, the National Gallery of Art unveiled an exhibition from Japanese master Ito Jakuchu and pop sensations AKB48 flew in for two free shows.

The Imperial Household lent Jakuchu’s 30 bird and flower paintings on silk scrolls, marking the first time the meditative masterpiece has been shown in its entirety out of Japan.

Earl Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art, said Monday that the exhibition was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the public to see “the most important and remarkable collection of flower painting ever in the history of Japan.”

The collection ― known as “Colorful Realm of Living Beings” and paired with three Jakuchu paintings of Buddhist deities ― opens to the public Friday for only one month after a six-year restoration effort.
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