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THROUGH JULY 9
Japan is bullet trains and video games, but in areas still beyond the reach of the former (if not the latter) traditional rural lifestyles remain—for now. When 80-year-old Hiroshima Kazuo dies, however, there will be no more traditional basketmakers in the Hinokage region of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost major island; none of his apprentices have stayed to master the craft, and today containers equivalent to Hiroshima’s bamboo ones are available in plastic. (Two of these PVC usurpers are on display in this show, including one the Sackler solemnly attributes to the Kona Bait and Tackle Store.) Someday, in fact, the most complete array of the bamboo weaver’s work may be in the Smithsonian, which owns the exquisitely crafted and elegantly functional objects in this show. These sieves; fish, crab, and eel traps; and containers for such emblematic Japanese commodities as tea, rice, noodles, mushrooms, bean paste, silkworms, and charcoal may not be art exactly, but their graceful utility supports Hiroshima’s notion that “making a good basket is a form of prayer.” At the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)