December 27, 2023

You’re beautiful – Bijin-ga from Fukuda Collection

In early summer 2024, the Fukuda Art Museum in Saga Arashiyama, Kyoto, will unveil its prized collection of ‘bijin-ga’, portraits of beautiful women.  In collaboration with the nearby Saga Arashiyama Museum of Arts & Culture, visitors will be able to fully enjoy the splendid world of Japanese paintings.

In Western art, there are many famous paintings of beautiful women. The Mona Lisa comes to mind, but so do Botticelli’s Primavera and Goya’s La maja desnuda: women are often shown unclothed. Rather than aiming to depict natural anatomical beauty alone, Japanese artists have been fascinated by the cultural aspects of hairstyles, modes of dress, and social setting. Some have worked with actual models, but others have striven to represent some remembered beauty, and many were tempted to represent the ideal beauty of characters from legends, stories, and drama. Underlying each of these fascinating works are the ideas and skills of an artist determined to leave the viewer simply saying of the subject, “You’re beautiful.” During the modern era, especially after the establishment of competitive public exhibitions, bijin-ga became a popular genre. Artists were spurred to depict varied contemporary ideals of female beauty and painters strove to outdo each other in expressing the ephemeral charms of women.

Accordingly, the show’s second venue, the Fukuda Art Museum, presents modern-period masterpieces from the Fukuda Collection. Representing the endless tug-of-war between Tokyo and Kyoto, works showing the friendly rivalry of “Kiyokata of the East and Shōen of the West” form the core of the exhibition. Kaburaki Kiyokata and Uemura Shōen, each with their own conception of female beauty and contrasting techniques, were two of the major bijin-ga artists of the 20th century. Their paintings are supplemented by the different notions and techniques of Itō Shōha, Itō Shinsui, and other masters, as well as expressions of beguiling beauty by artists such as Kainoshō Tadaoto and Okamoto Shinsō. Before each work, you may hear an inner voice murmuring “You’re beautiful.” Which one will make you say it out loud?

Works on show in the first venue, Saga Arashiyama Museum of Art and Culture, trace the roots of bijin-ga in ukiyo-e portrayals of women. Here you can see paintings by Utagawa Hiroshige and Hokusai and other noted ukiyo-e artists. To these are added paintings of beauties by artists who were active in Kyoto in the early modern period. Each incidentally documents the hairstyles, textiles, and mode of dress that were current at the time of painting. Arranged to show how bijin-ga evolved from ukiyo-e, the exhibition includes masterful works from the 19th and 20th centuries that illustrate the changing ways artists viewed women.

Details will be uploaded at a later date.

Exhibition Overview

Title You’re beautiful – Bijin-ga from Fukuda Collection

April 19 (Fri.) – July 1 (Mon.) 2024

   1st period: April 19 (Fri.) – May 27(Mon.) 2024
   2nd period: March 29 (Wed.) – July 1 (Mon.) 2024

Opening Hours 10:00〜17:00 (last entry 16:30)

May 28 (Tue.) for changing the exhibition
June 18 (Tue.) for facilities inspection


Fukuda Art Museum : 3-16 Susukinobabachō Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto

Entry Fee

General / University student: ¥1,500 (¥1,400)
High school student: ¥900 (¥800)
Elementary / Junior high school student: ¥500 (¥400)
Disabled person and up to one helper: ¥900 (¥800)

* Prices in parentheses are for groups of 20 or more.
* Free for preschool children


<Combo Tickets with Saga Arashiyama Museum of Arts & Culture>
General / University student: ¥2,300
High school student: ¥1,300
Elementary / Junior high school student: ¥750
Disabled person and up to one helper: ¥1,300

*If you purchase an online ticket of the Fukuda Art Museum, you will get a discount for the entry fee of the Saga Arashiyama Museum of Arts & Culture. Therefore, you can enter both museums as the same price of the combo ticket.