A History of the Sakuryōkai Exhibition

translated by Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch

Informational text for the 2018 Traffic Culture Exhibition at Ueno Station in Tokyo, Japan, 18–23 October 2018 (for display at the exhibit and in the printed results of the photography and haiku competitions). See also our translations of the winning haiku for the 2018 Traffic Culture Exhibition.

The Sakuryōkai Exhibition shares its history with the development of the Traffic Culture Exhibition, showcasing the leading works of Japanese painting, Western painting, and calligraphy by representative artists of modern Japan.

The Traffic Culture Exhibition, originally called the Traffic-Related People’s Cultural Exhibition, was first held in 1954. Since that time, this exhibition has presented new works by top Japanese artists producing paintings in Western styles, and later also Japanese styles. To promote tourism, they named the first show “Kantō Sightseeing Art: New Works by 14 Great Masters of Modern Western Painting.” The second show was titled “Sightseeing Art: New Works by 11 Great Masters of Modern Western Painting.” Japanese paintings were included in the third show, titled as “New Works by Grand Masters of Japanese and Western Painting.” The fifth show was titled “New Works by Grand Masters and Leading Artists of Japanese and Western Painting,” inviting younger artists, thus setting the exhibit’s direction to the present day. Adding a calligraphy section, the 38th exhibition was named “New Works by Grand Masters and Leading Artists of Japanese Painting, Western Painting, and Calligraphy,” further refining the exhibition’s current focus. In 1998, when the 45th Traffic Culture Exhibition became one of the Railway Day events, it changed its name to the Sakuryōkai Exhibition to showcase new works by leading painters of Japanese and Western styles, and the calligraphy of modern Japan.

The Sakuryōkai Exhibition was named after an energetic group seeking to ascend like a dragon against a gushing stream. The group included artists who had been mingling since the 1970s with Mr. TAKI Hisao, director general of our public interest incorporated foundation, the Japan Traffic Culture Association, and its core members. A unique aspect of this group from its beginning has been that its members gather beyond their standing positions and their groups. The Sakuryōkai Exhibition booth provides an opportunity to see works by excellent artists in a public space at the station.