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Scene in D.C.: Frederick Beinecke, Inouye, Allan McArtor

Giant displays of cherry blossoms decorated the reception. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg
Giant displays of cherry blossoms decorated the reception. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Japanese gift of cherry blossom trees to Washington, the Imperial Household Agency of Japan is lending the capital some more-stylized flora.

Last night the National Gallery of Art hosted a gala reception in honor of the opening of that loan, a monthlong exhibition titled “Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800).”

National Gallery trustee Frederick Beinecke, the president of Antaeus Enterprises Inc., said he had to make the trip from his home base in New York for the rare and short-lived show because “you’re never going to see anything like this.”

Another National Gallery trustee, Sharon Percy Rockefeller -- whose husband, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat, was “tied up in the Senate” -- marveled at the “extraordinary” art work, especially a scroll with a preening peacock.

Senate business did not prevent Rockefeller’s colleague Senator Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat, and his wife, Irene Hirano, from coming out.

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas Inc., who watched a Buddhist ceremony bless the exhibition, said people in his industry are often seen as “engineers and policy wonks, but we do have a softer side, a cultural side.”

Airbus, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nikkei Inc. are among the exhibition’s major sponsors.

Pearls and Bracelets

Ann Nitze, a private art dealer, proudly announced that her elegant black dress, which she accessorized with a pearl necklace, was made by Japanese designer Hanae Mori.

For those who didn’t come accessorized, Yoriko Fujisaki, the wife of Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, handed out plastic white bracelets with small pink cherry blossoms.

Susie Nemazee, the wife of British Ambassador Peter Westmacott, also meandered through the exhibition.

After the guests mingled in the galleries, they went upstairs to the building’s West Garden Court where champagne was served with a signature blossom. Kyoko Okamoto played soothing koto solos.

A buffet dinner of Japanese cuisine was served in the West Sculpture Hall amid giant displays of cherry blossoms and small arrangements of peonies.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: StephanieGreen in Washington at or on Twitter @stephlgreen.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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