607. Japanese Red Pine

This stop is excerpted from Planting Edo, a field guide created in partnership with the Harvard Art Museums. The guide pairs Arboretum specimens with paintings from the Museums' exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection.

Japanese Red Pine

Pinus densiflora

Accession 1724 - 77*B

Japanese red pine, scientific name Pinus densiflora, is a multi-stemmed tree with twisted trunks and upright spreading branches. Such features are uncommon for pine trees, which are known for growing straight and tall. The Japanese red pine has bark that peels away in thin strips, revealing stunning oranges and grays. Its needles are approximately 2 to 3 inches long and arranged in bundles of two, which produces a tufted, billowy effect. It has oval-shaped tan cones, which open to release their winged seeds in their second year of growth.

This painting on a pair of miniature sliding doors, Pines of Miho by Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942), depicts a scenic area on the Miho Peninsula (Miho no matsubara), in Shizuoka City, Japan, which is home to an iconic four miles of seashore lined with pine trees. Notice how Sekka has used touches of ink against the dyed silk to suggest the colors of the peeling bark and a single brushstroke to create the landscape above the trees.

Kamisaka Sekka, Pines of Miho, Japanese, Taishō or Shōwa period, 1925–35. Pair of sliding doors; ink, color, and gold on silk. Harvard Art Museums, Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg, TL42147.10. Photo: John Tsantes and Neil Greentree; © Robert Feinberg.