A few years ago on my birthday, I went to dinner with my folks and some family friends. I had a wonderful time, the food was delicious, and I got some lovely gifts.
Leslie is the daughter of my father’s godmother. Bear with me, I know this is starting to sound like the beginning of an urban legend, but it is well and truly relevant. My grandmother and I share a birthday, and I believe inherited a lot of my fascination with the Japanese aesthetic from her. Her apartment was so tastefully furnished and had a lot of beautiful Japanese antiques and art pieces. I think they had a profound impact on me when I was a young girl, more so than I realized until recently. Kay, Leslie’s mother, was my grandmother’s dear friend when they were young, and was my father’s godmother. Leslie is family, even though not related by blood.
Kay purchased these beautiful woodblock prints while travelling in Japan with my grandmother many years ago. As far as I can tell, they were carefully lifted from a hand-bound book, each one has holes along one end of the page. The labels on the backs of the frames credit them to Utagawa Kunisada and date them to the mid-1800s. I have been unable to find other copies of these two prints anywhere on the internet so I can’t back the veracity of the claims, but they seem reasonable.
Imagine my shock when Leslie passed these on to me for my birthday, knowing how touched I would be, and how much I would appreciate them. All the gifts I got were incredibly thoughtful and I appreciated them all, but I was well and truly flabbergasted by these two simple but beautiful prints, due to the way they tied so many facets of the relationship between Leslie, her mother, my grandmother, and myself together so beautifully.