One of Japan's cultural treasures, a 30-scroll set of paintings from the 1700s, is being shown together outside of Japan for the first time in a rare display in Washington.
The paintings of birds and flowers on silk, created more than 250 years ago by artist Ito Jakuchu, will go on view Friday at the National Gallery of Art. The four-week exhibition marks the centennial of Japan's gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. as a symbol of friendship.
The paintings, entitled "Colorful Realm of Living Beings," were donated to Japan's Imperial Household in 1889 and have been held by the world's oldest monarchy since. They are rarely exhibited, even in Japan.
The nature scrolls are paired with paintings that evoke their religious context as Buddhist objects of worship.