Archive for the ‘Japanese Art’ Category

Senryu is a type of poetry that was first introduced during the Edo period (see Wednesdays post). The term senryu actually refers to an Edo poet, Senryu Karai, who first put together a collection of poetry of this kind. Today’s poem is actually not from the Edo period but by a Japanese poet who lived in the 20th century, demonstrating the resilience of the art form. Take a look at the following poem by Shuji Terayama (1935-1983):


Hide and seek

Count to three

Winter comes


For Baby…
The first two lines of this poem are perfect to read to baby. All babies love a simple game of peekaboo and that’s exactly what you could do with these carefree lines of Terayama’s poem. The basic format of senryu and haiku poetry typically include two contrasting ideas, hence the depressing tone of that third line. For baby, you could change the third line to something more fun like “Mama sees you!!”

For Mommy…
As a mother, this poem is reminding me of how fast time is flying. Our children are only babies for a such a short period of time. I cried the day my little one took his first steps. I was so happy for him but, surprisingly, a little sad that he was stepping into a whole new world, one that wouldn’t require me as much.

From a historical perspective, Terayama was just a child during the end of World War II in the Pacific. Perhaps the poem is referring to a childhood cut short by the devastation of war. I guess, overall, it reminds us that everything in this life is temporary. But isn’t that what makes it all so precious?


Read Full Post »

The following print is another work of art by the famous Edo artist, Kitagawa Utamaro. Utamaro’s success as an artist took off during the ukiyo-e movement of the late 1700s.  During this time, art was made accessible to the common people through mass printing. Most of Utamaro’s work seems to directly connect with the common experience of the masses, especially women.  But, let’s be honest, who would want to hang a picture of a sad, drippy scene in their living room.  Utamaro’s work does not typically focus on the ugly aspects of life, but on the ideal. Here’s a peek at what people of the Edo period may have regarded as the quintessential mommy:

For Baby…

What a wonderful feeling it must be to fly through the air!  Babies love to be picked up by their loved ones. They have such incredible trust in us as we soar them up so high! Use this print to teach baby the word “up.” You can say, “See how the baby goes, up, up, up!!” Your baby will delight in the feeling of you swinging him or her in the air. Try it out after looking at the picture! Use the experience to start teaching baby about opposites.  Lift baby in the air and say “Up…up…up…aaaaand…down,” quickly returning baby to the floor. Don’t be surprised if your baby looks at you to repeat this game again and again!! Try to encourage him or her to either say the word “more” or use the sign.

Parenting Early Years, September 2009

For Mommy…

This print has me thinking about  the “ideal” mother of our modern-day culture.   So, after pondering for a few minutes, I decided to consult my magazine rack. Somehow, without subscribing, I’ve managed to collect quite a few issues of Parenting magazine.  Here’s the picture I came across.  Well, things haven’t changed that much, I guess. We’re still swinging our babies through the air. But what else can we observe. First, she’s drop dead gorgeous. Of course, she’s not trying to be, she just woke up that way. She’s healthy. The background of the picture has me gasping for fresh air. She’s happy. I’m assuming there wasn’t much stress getting the little darling ready for school? She’s successful. Her clothes, although not too overdone, suggest she may be heading to a career job after dropping off the little munchkin. Oh, and did I mention that she’s probably been to the gym already this morning?

Now, please don’t take my sarcasm too seriously. Parenting wouldn’t be selling many magazines with a stressed-out, exhausted-looking mommy on the cover. And, plus, I actually enjoyed skimming through a few of the articles in this issue. What I am wondering, though, is if we put too much pressure on ourselves to strive toward this ideal. Nobody can live the airbrushed life. Wouldn’t it be freeing to just let go of it?

“Utamaro,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009

http://au.encarta.msn.com © 1997-2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Read Full Post »

Monthly Theme: Mother and Child
Weekly Content: Japanese Art of the Edo Period, 1600s – 1800s
Daily Subject: Poetry

As stated earlier, the Edo Period was a prosperous time in Japanese history, a time when much focus was on the arts and literature. During this period, several new forms of poetry came into being. The haiku, now a very popular form of poetry, has it roots in the Edo period. Short, but powerful, these poems are meant to strike a chord with readers. Another form of poetry that came about during this period was the senryu. Similar to the haiku in format, the senryu is unique in its use of humor to emphasize a point. Take a look at the following senryu:

Enjoying the cool of the evening

A mother comes out with her child

Smothered in powder 

Anon. Senryu (pub. 1765)

(R. H. Blyth, Japanese Life and Character in Senryu (Japan, Hokuseido, 1960), p.18)

For baby…
Poetry such as this is extremely fun to read to baby. Perfect for the short attention span, the haiku format lends itself as a quick but meaningful way to entertain baby. Take some creative license to change a few of the word in the poem so it’s more fun for baby. For example, add the word “breeze” to the first line and make the sign for breeze by waving your hands side to side. Changing the word “powder” to something like “kisses” or “tickles” might make a fun game for you and baby.

For mommy…
So, as stated above, there must be some satire in this poem. The use of the word “smothered” seems to insinuate that the mother is going a little overboard. How do we succumb to this in our own lives? Doesn’t modern day society force us into thinking that we need the best products, the best education, the best EVERYTHING for our child? Keeping up with all the latest trends and products could drive even the savviest mom mad. Maybe the author of this poem is trying to remind us to, more often, just simply take in “the cool of the evening” without all the other hoopla!

Read Full Post »

Monthly Theme: Mother and Child

Weekly Topic: Japanese Art of the Edo Period, 1600s – 1800s

Daily Subject: Art History

This next work of art may look like a Japanese woodblock print, however, it is actually by Mary Cassatt (see last week’s posts).  Many artist of the 19th Century were inspired by Japanese prints of the Edo period. For more on Japonisme see the following link:


Maternal Caress, 1891, Mary Cassatt (American, 1844-1926), Drypoint and soft-ground etching, third print, printed in color, 14 3/8 x 10 9/16 in. (36.5 x 27 cm), Gift of Paul J. Sachs, 1916 (16.2.5), http://www.metmuseum.org

For Baby…

Nothing beats getting a big hug from your little one. Show baby this work of art and say, “The baby  gives his mama a big hug! Can you give your mama a hug?” If your baby understands, expect a big squeeze. If not, scoop her up and spin her around, giving lots of hugs and kisses!! See yesterdays post for more ideas on how to use artwork to encourage language development.

For Mommy…

Cassatt appreciated Utamaro’s study of the daily life of women and mothers. What similarities do you see in the two works of art that we have viewed this week? Differences? Although she was obviously naturally gifted, Cassatt had the advantage of studying the art of different cultures.  How does a multicultural education serve to enrich the experience of the individual?

Read Full Post »

Monthly Theme:  Mother and Child

Weekly Content: Japanese Works of Art during the Edo Period, 1600s – 1800s

Daily Subject: Art History

Developing a multicultural perspective is the goal of a good education. Looking at the same theme through the eyes of different cultures highlights their similarities, reminding us of the qualities that make us all human.  The beauty of a mother’s love is treasured across time and place. The following woodblock print by Kitagawa Utamaro was created during the Edo period, a peaceful time in Japan when the arts flourished.   For more on this period in Japanese history, cut and paste the following link:


Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child, Edo period (1615-1868), ca. 1790, Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), Polychrome woodblock print, H. 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm), W. 9 5/8 in (24.4 cm), Rogers Fund, 1922 (JP1278), http://www.metmuseum.org

For Baby…

When you share this work of art with baby, continue to encourage language development by introducing new vocabulary.  Remember to emphasize beginning and ending consonant sounds so that baby can better imitate your words. Of course, make sure to also say the words the way you would naturally. This piece of artwork is great for introducing or reinforcing the names of body parts.  For example, say, “Where are the baby’s toes?” and help baby point to the correct part of the body.  

For Mommy…

Both Mary Cassatt and Kitagawa Utamaro appreciated the beauty of a mother’s daily life. In our hectic world, we sometimes forget the preciousness of our everyday acts as mothers.  Take a moment to reflect on how the little things you do each day for your baby are examples of living art.


Read Full Post »