Blossoms in Bethnal Green

Young V&A
December 1, 2023

Autumn may be moving into winter, with chilly winds rustling the leaves and whistling around the buildings outside, but a fragment of spring has arrived at Young V&A – a cherry tree festooned with thousands of bright pink paper blossoms. Set against the museum’s black and white mosaic tiles, the vivid pink is an eruption of colour. The tree was inspired by the Hana Mikoshi (flower shrines) that have been made in the town of Mino in Gifu Prefecture, Japan for hundreds of years.

A crowd of people of Mino taking part in the annual Matsuri. They are mainly wearing white shorts and pale blue tops, three of them at the front are beating large double sided drums. Two Hana Mikoshi flower shrines are being carried high behind them. They are large wooden shrines set with sprays of bright pink paper blossoms, more than 6 feet long.

Mino is famous for producing traditional handmade Japanese washi paper, and as part of the annual Matsuri, families and craftspeople come together to create these stunning paper blossoms. The paper flowers are attached to bendy bamboo poles which are used to decorate portable Shinto shrines (mikoshi). These flower shrines are carried through the town in a festival that lasts two days and culminates in a parade of revellers dressed as Japanese fairy tale characters from Momotaro to Urashima Taro (whose stories are explored in the Japan: Myths to Manga exhibition currently open at Young V&A).

Hana Mikoshi at YV&A
Hana Mikoshi at Young V&A

This cheery cherry tree, now on display at Young V&A, has over 50,000 blossoms. The tree was commissioned by the V&A Museum and was decorated by over 2,000 visitors to the V&A in South Kensington earlier in the year. The V&A worked with Gifu Prefecture Japan, and a London-based architecture studio, Hayatsu Architects to develop this installation.

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Hana Mikoshi (flower shrines) by Hayatsu Architects is supported by Toshiba.

About the author

Young V&A
December 1, 2023

Young V&A Curator. A collection specialist in children's clothing and childhood material culture and creativity. Exhibition Curator for the Young V&A's inaugural exhibition Japan: Myths to Manga. Online Exhibition Producer...

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1 comment so far, view or add yours


I saw this during London Design Festival and loved its impact & crowd-sourced effort. Looking forward to seeing it again in a brilliant choice of new venue when I visit Myths to Manga exhibition.

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