Freer Collection


The late Edo period ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” is said to be the best known Japanese painting in the West. Hokusai left not only ukiyo-e but also hand paintings. 

On my way back from a business trip the other day, I stopped by Kyoto to see the special exhibition “Masterpieces from the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art” at Kenninji Temple. The Smithsonian Institution, located in Washington D.C., has one of the world’s finest collections of Japanese art, which was acquired by Charles Lang Freer, a businessman. The collection is not allowed to be seen outside of the museum, and the actual pieces can only be viewed locally. Canon’s high-definition technology was used to photograph the actual Freer collection, which was then printed by a high-definition printer and displayed in the Kenninji temple.

When I visited there, about 15 pieces of Hokusai’s paintings were on display.

Each piece was so beautifully elaborate that you would think it was real (not that I saw the real thing, but…). The Hokusai’s paintings in particular were simply overwhelming, with their frighteningly perfect compositions, beautiful colors, and delicate brushwork that conveyed a sense of tension even to the viewer.

The Freer Collection has about 100 works of Hokusai alone.

I couldn’t help but think how nice it would have been if these “never-to-be-seen-before” works had not crossed the ocean and had been permanently displayed in a museum somewhere in Japan, where we could have seen their unique Japanese beauty.

Speaking of the Furia Collection, in 2020, Shogakukan’s “Waraku” magazine published a popular series titled “Japanese Art and High Jewelry: Encounter of Beautiful Miracles” in which this collection of Japanese paintings, which had never been shown outside of Japan, competed with high jewelers. The series continued with the competition between top jewelers such as Bulgari, Van Cleef, and Harry Winston and Japanese paintings, and in the February/March 2020 issue, OKURADO’s “Cherry Blossom” collection was featured in the final issue of the series along with a cherry blossom folding screen painting by Kano Sanraku.

The editor in charge of the project asked OKURADO to feature the OKURADO ” Cherry Blossom ” collection of cherry blossom jewelry, including some already sold (borrowed from customers for the photo shoot), for a total of six pages.



Hitoshi Okura