Ito Hikozo, Ghost

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist, illustrated in "Illustrations by Ito Hikozo New・Augmented Edition" published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha

113×32㎝ / 194×47㎝

Born 1902 in Oita Prefecture, Ito Hikozo was a descendant of the great swordsman Ito Ittosai and learned kendo from his father at an early age, and eventually became a master swordsman himself. As an illustrator, he attracted viewers with his realistic portraits that set him apart from other artists. This work depicts a ghost holding a woman's severed head. From the ghost's bitter gaze to the stunned expression of the decapitated woman, the illustrated scene appears as if Hikozo saw it with his own eyes. A work of fear, power, and spirit, the work encapsulates the complex character and background of the artist and his body of work.

To those interested, Zenshoan is currently exhibiting rakugo performer, Sanyutei Encho's ghost-themed collection, "Yuurei Ten". Why not take this opportunity to cool off from the intense summer heat and make a visit?

Exhibition Website (Japanese Only):


Katsushika Hokusai, Water Rail and Plants

Color on paper
61×28㎝ / 151×39㎝

The Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai continued to paint throughout his 70-year-long career.
Even after completing his masterpiece " Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji " at the age of 72, he continued to immerse himself in the world of painting in search of further innovation.
This is a work from 1841 when Hokusai was 82 years old.
Juxtaposing ideas of tension and silence with that of vitality and movement, the work presents a water rail in hunt before a lotus on a verge of bloom.
With great skill and precision, the seemingly conflicting concepts of stillness and movement are presented in harmony. In many ways, this work renders the "life" Hokusai continued to view, seek and paint throughout his life.

Click here to learn more about the artist.


Ryokan, Calligraphy

Ink on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Yasuda Yukihiko, illustrated in "Ryokan Bokuseki Taikan Vol. 2" published by Chuoukoronbijutsushuppan, a former property of Nakamura Gakuryo

24×10㎝ / 191×44㎝

Ryokan was a monk who lived simply throughout his life and was loved by people for his unadorned personality, innocence and noble way of life.
This work, a former property of Nakamura Gakuryo, is one of the rarest of Ryokan's ‘kaisho’ (block style) calligraphy. He left many calligraphies during his 74-year lifetime, but since the vast majority of his works were ‘sosho’ (cursive style) after the age of 55, it can be inferred that this work was made at a relatively young age. The simple and warm lines that express Ryokan's personality, combined with the intricate balance between 'hen-bo' (the right and left segments of the characters) gives the work a sense of intensity and tension. Furthermore, the strength and severity of the kaisho aesthetic adds another dimension that, in turn, presents the transcendent, spiritual essence of Ryokan’s work.

Click here to learn more about the artist.


Kobayashi Kokei, Kingfisher

Color on paper, with a box signed and sealed by the artist

38×52㎝ / 143×67㎝

In Japan, the character for 'jade' originated from the color of the kingfisher.
As the word would suggest, Kingfishers make perfect subjects for paintings.
An avid student of Rinpa, Kokei awareness of the tradition’s visual culture and techniques, such as tarashikomi (a painting technique of applying a second layer of paint over a wet first layer), is highly evidenced in the work.
In addition, to the work’s Rinpa-esque character, the artist’s incorporation of modernized aesthetics makes this piece a quintessential Kokei piece.

Click here to learn more about the artist.


Maruyama Okyo, Ocean in Spring

Color on paper, with a certificate of authenticity by Maruyama Oushin

104 × 45㎝ / 185 × 59㎝

While the Maruyama school founder, Maruyama Okyo is known to have studied Kano school painting, his early mastery of megane-e (a form of painting designed to be viewed through an apparatus) was his gateway to Western-style perspective. The impact of Okyo’s unique style, which incorporates Chinese influenced real-life drawing techniques, continues to influence many people today.

This work is characterized by its three-dimensional perspective, and judging from its seal (Tenmei 6 (1786)), it can be deduced that this work was made during the prime of Okyo’s life.

In the work, interwoven pine trees flanked by cherry blossoms are depicted in the foreground, and their strength can be felt by their stillness in spite of the sea breeze.

In contrast, the distant view is a peaceful seascape. Simultaneously expressing stillness and movement, the work perfectly renders the feeling of spring and the heart of Okyo’s realism.

Click here to learn more about the artist.


Natsume Soseki, Poem

Ink on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Nakamura Fusetsu, Matsuoka Yuzuru


Natsume Soseki, the satirical writer and author to Botchan who addressed Western-influenced, modernist individualist themes, was also a student of Chinese poetry and Eastern literati culture.

In this poem, Soseki, moved by the fragrant landscape of spring flowers, is frustrated by his inability to express his thoughts. This work, which illustrates the inner conflicts and anguish of the artist, is a precious reminder of the scene that touched the chord of the great literary master who brought great inspiration to the masses.

Click here to learn more about the artist.


Hakuin Ekaku, Hotei and Otafuku

Ink on paper, illustrated in “1050 Paintings and Calligraphies by the Zen Master Hakuin” published by Nigensha Co., Ltd.

In Hakuin's Zen paintings, Hotei is said to be, both, a metaphor of Hakuin himself and the most drawn character of the Seven Lucky Gods. A classic Hakuin piece, this humorous work depicts Hotei blowing out a kimono-clad woman, Otafuku, wearing a kimono with the Japanese character “inochinagashi” (lit: long life). Hotei, in the appearance of a dorakusha (a man of pleasure), smoking a cigarette and blowing out Otafuku, a symbol of longevity and happiness, sends a message that perhaps true pleasure lies in wishing for longevity and happiness. The essence of Hakuin, who continued to convey Zen teachings through his paintings, is fully demonstrated in this work.

Click here to learn more about the artist.



Nagasawa Rosetsu, Hunting in the Snow

Color on silk


The seal on the painting suggests that this was a work made during Nagasawa Rosetsu’s late thirties. The two men on horseback seem to be people of “Ko” from the western part of China. This appears to be a hunting scene, as evidenced by one of the men, with one holding a hare from the waist and the other standing with a dog at the foot of the bridge.

In addition to this work being a rare depiction of a snowy hunting scene, the work displays the rich aesthetic charms of the so-called “eccentric” painter, Rosetsu. Featuring delicate brushstrokes alongside a bold composition, the work skillfully incorporates Rosetsu’s humor with the inherited style of his teacher, Maruyama Okyo.

Learn more about Nagasawa Rosetsu, here


Ohara Koson, White Egret and Mandarin Ducks

A diptych, color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist

126×49㎝ / 221×65㎝

Ohara Koson was active during the end of the Meiji, to the Taisho and Showa era. He studied under Suzuki Kason and was a well-renowned master of bird-and-flower paintings, especially in Europe. Koson is known for his many hanga prints, however, his paintings are very rare.

Over recent years, this work has received increased reevaluation. From the simplicity of the snow-covered pine branches to the delicate rendering of the egret and mandarin ducks, the work carries a particular air of elegance and sophistication. Merging traditional Japanese painting with realism, the work's innovative aesthetic is a reflection of its time and gives viewers a sense of how the Meiji era came to represent a time of change and innovation.

Learn more about Ohara Koson, here


Tosa Mitsuoki, Quails and Millet

Color on silk

93×41㎝ / 183×53㎝

The early Edo period painter, Tosa Mitsuoki, was known as a leading figure in the revival of Tosa school painting, which had long receded from the center of the art world since the end of the Muromachi period. By incorporating elements from Kano school and Song-Yuan dynasty painting (Sō-Gen ga) into the Tosa school aesthetic, he maintained the tradition of Yamato painting and built a new Tosa aesthetic in the Edo period.

On the whole, Mitsuoki’s quails were his most skilled depictions. The delicate and precise depiction of feathers in this work functions as an effective reflection of Mitsuoki’s elegant technique, which is further heightened by its sophisticated composition and elegant color expression.

Noting the inscription, “土佐左近将監光起筆”, it can be deduced that this is a work after 1654 when Mitsuoki was appointed Lieutenant of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards.

Learn more about Tosa Mitsuoki, here


Tomioka Tessai, Landscape

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist, and a certificate of authenticity by the Tomioka Tessai Kantei Iinkai

145×51㎝ / 220×66㎝

"Tessai became a dragon in his 80s," said Taro Odakane, the leading researcher of Tessai studies, who states how, as Tessai became older, his paintings grew more youthful through his use of bold and colorful brush strokes. This work was made in 1912 when Tessai was 81 years old.

In addition to the vivid color contrast between the towering green mountains and the scarlet cinnabar, the work conveys a sense of Yugen (mysterious profundity) that seems to float in the air, inviting viewers to an enchanted land.

The inscription contains, "Seikanjitoku (wait-and-see mode)" which is derived from the Northern Song Confucianist poetry, and the “江山風月本無常主閑者便是主人” is by Soshoku (Chinese: Su Shi) a literati figure Tessai greatly admired. The poem describes how there is no owner of beautiful nature such as rivers, mountains, the wind, and the moon. In other words, the natural landscape is solely for those who love their beauty quietly. A work of refined aesthetic and conceptual appeal, this painting is a symbol of the Buddhist belief that nature is the face of the truth.

Learn more about Tomioka Tessai, here


Yosa Buson, Landscape

Whilst best known for his haiku, it was his establishment of Haiga (the incorporation of haiku poetry and painting), that solidified Yosa Buson's legacy as an artist.

With his unique blend of visual and literary tropes, Buson's paintings render the delicate changes in the seasons and light in a manner parallel to the realism and lyricism of his poetry.

From the force of the wind to the sound of the rain, this work captures the scene of willow trees under sudden rainfall. Foreshadowing the end of rainfall, through the brightness of the composition, the work alludes to the coming of sunshine and the fragrance of wet vegetation.

Learn more about Yosa Buson, here


Mochizuki Gyokusei, Goldfish and Lotus Pond

Mochizuki Gyokusei was a Meiji to Showa period Japanese painter. A 6th generation Mochizuki, Gyokusei was from a prestigious family of court painters who served the Kyoto Imperial Palace. He studied under his father, Mochizuki Gyokkei, a celebrated bird-and-flower painter, and Nishyama Suisho, a renowned figure of the Kyoto art scene.

This work depicts a delicate scene of goldfish and Japanese rice fish swimming among lilies. In addition to its use of Maruyama-Shijo school realism, soft and naturalistic, this work bears resemblance to his father, Gyokkei's hand, and carries the characteristic Mochizuki aesthetic. In line with the season, the painting's refreshing blues make this a perfect piece for summer.

Learn more about Mochizuki Gyokusei, here


Watanabe Seitei, Heron and Willow Tree Under the Moon

Slight color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist

108×41cm / 206×54cm

The Meiji to Taisho period painter, Watanabe Seitei’s unprecedented international Western following began in France. With this year’s comprehensive retrospective exhibition, there are signs of evident momentum in his ever-growing popularity.

A masterful rendering of complex ink gradations, this work dates to the early 20th century, when Seitei was about 55. Notably, this dates to the same period when Seitei was awarded a gold medal at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition for his bird-and-flower painting.

In this work, willow branches sway gently over a thinly overcast full moon in a dreamlike landscape. In the composition, is a gorgeous, life-like heron that reminds us of the rich and elaborate brushwork Seitei is best renowned for.

Learn more about Watanabe Seitei, here


Shibata Zeshin, An Album of Illustrations

An album of illustrations, twelve sheets, color and lacquer on paper, with a box signed and sealed by the artist
5.2 × 6.5 cm / 7 × 8.3 cm

The most notable aspect of Shibata Zeshin's oeuvre is his urushi-e (lacquerware). Using highly viscous lacquer, he produced many Japanese paintings that simulated Western textures that have gained great reverence in the West.
This work depicts the Chinese Zodiacs. While each zodiac is gifted with much animation and character, the tiger and dog reveal the Shijo school influence in Zeshin’s hand.
When thinking of Zeshin, one immediately thinks of the art of lacquerware and masterful Shijo school painting. Carrying both tokens, this piece is a true rarity.

Currently on exhibit at Seitei, Zeshin and Kyosai: Japanese Art at the Paris and Philadelphia Expositions until May 5, 2021.


Watanabe Seitei, Wisteria and Old Willow Tree

A diptych, color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by Kawafune Misao, artist's seal woven into the mount and Futai

113 x 40cm / 204 x 54cm

Judging by the seals, this work dates to the 1890’s-early 1900’s, a time symbolic of Seitei's maturation period. Sharing a subtle red tinted background, the work juxtaposes bold and vibrant wisteria with a minimalistic, withered willow and, as a night heron perches on its branch, the impeccable realism of the work evinces Seitei's characteristic eye for detail. Opening April 25, this work will be exhibited at our upcoming exhibition, Seitei, Zeshin and Kyosai: Japanese Art at the Paris and Philadelphia Expositions.

Learn more about Watanabe Seitei, here


Konoe Nobutada, Tenjin

Ink on paper
87 x 31cm / 166 x 42cm

The legend of the Toto Tenjin arose during the Japanese Muromachi period. Sugawara no Michizane, known posthumously as Tenjin (heavenly deity), was said to have visited the Chinese Zen priest Wuzhun Shifan in a dream. In one night, he attains dharma transmission and, as proof, he returns to Japan with a plum blossom branch. By shaping figure's headpiece like the character, "Ten" (heaven), and his clothing, "Jin" (god), Nobutada's work plays with the verbal allusions of the term, Tenjin. Employing, both, man'yogana in the upper register and hiragana in the lower part of the composition, the visual and literary richness to the work demonstrates why Nobutada is called one of the “three great calligraphers of the Kanei era.”


Komatsu Hitoshi, Mt. Fuji

Komatsu Hitoshi, Mt. Fuji
Color on paper, with a label signed and sealed by the artist, framed
42 x 53cm/67 x 78cm

Komatsu Hitoshi was a painter and recluse who resided in Ohara, Kyoto and lived in near poverty to support his independent painting career. While best known for his hometown landscapes of the Mogami River in Yamagata prefecture, he often depicted many natural sceneries, especially those of Mt. Fuji. This work depicts a vibrant rendering of Mt. Fuji. With the use of deep and intense lines, the vigour and earthliness of the work exemplifies the highlights of Komatsu's unique aesthetic. Colourful and charismatic, the work is a perfect piece to welcome all viewers into a new year.



Maruyama Okyo, Landscape

A pair of six-folding screens, color on paper
155×354 cm/171×370 cm

Maruyama Okyo is historically esteemed his introduction of realism to Japanese painting. Unifying a pair of disparate visual cultures, his work merges the realism of traditional Chinese painting through its depiction of a mountain, with a uki-e (megane-e) use of perspective through its depiction of a waterscape. With Okyo's skilled treatment of space, the work lures viewers into its painted landscape. Innovative in essence, this work evidences a historic and symbolic burgeoning of a modern classical landscape.

On exhibit at the upcoming "Old Japanese Paintings: The Masters who Colored the Edo Period" exhibition.


Taigu Ryokan, Calligraphy

Ink on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Yasuda Yukihiko

While Ryokan's calligraphy appears effortless, each stroke is made with much precision and care. It was said that Ryokan would delicately lift his brush while writing. The essence of Ryokan's calligraphy lies his elegant flowing strokes that masks underlying strength. Embodying this essence, this work depicts "Hyakka Haru", meaning spring in full bloom. Enduring a harsh winter, the flowers that bloom in spring signify this underlying strength and resilience with grace and poise.

Click here for more info about Taigu Ryokan.


Okamoto Shuki “Autumn Grass and Quail”

Color on silk,
illustrated in the sale catalogue of Miyatake family in Aki at Kyoto Bijutsu Club on 22 October,1932,
illustrated in the sale catalogue of Sei family in Uwajima at Osaka Bijutsu Club

This piece is an elegant manifestation of the qualities Okamoto's work is best known for; a realistic and detailed aesthetic, reminiscent of the Nagasaki school, and a colorful ornateness. This work depicts a quail with brilliant feathers, juxtaposing a simple background that enhances the sheer detail of the subject in the foreground. Befitting the coming season, this work is a beautiful reflection of autumn in its maturity.

Click here for more info about Okamoto Shuki


Ito Shoha “Early Autumn”

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist

Ito Shoha was born in 1877 and was the eldest daughter of a priest of the Sarutahiko Shrine (Ise city, Mie prefecture). An apprentice of much promise and acclaim, Shoha studied under Taniguchi Kokyo in Kyoto and came to be known as one of Kyoto’s leading female painters, like Uemura Shoen. In 1917, Ito painted in front of Empress Teimei and exhibited "Tale of the Pipa" at the Japan-France Exchange Exhibition of 1922, which subsequently was bought by the French government. Her casual depictions of ordinary life are valued for the particular warmth they emanate. This work depicts a smiling woman in front of hagi (bush clover). Balancing an elegant composition with a sense of warmth and humanity, the work reflects the soft and delicate charm of Shoha's unique aesthetic.


Kawaguchi Ekai “Poems”

A diptych, ink on silk,

with a box signed and sealed by the artist

Kawaguchi Ekai was a Buddhist Scholar and Obaku sect Monk of the Meiji period. He entered Tibet, which was then closed to foreigners, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Using broad strokes, his thick brushwork appears to manifest the strength of Ekai himself. Depicting Chinese poetry, the right column depicts the work of the Tang dynasty poet, Xu Hun, while the left is of his own. In Ekai’s “Three Years in Tibet” he discusses the state of being overwhelmed by the natural scenes of the Himalayas and, like Xu Hun’s poem, encounters flying cranes and blowing snowstorms.Using Xu Hun’s poem to signify the beauty of nature, Ekai expresses the intense feeling he experienced alone in the Himalayas, through his own addition.


Nagasawa Rosetsu “Carp”

Slight color on silk

114×41cm / 172×50cm

In this work, a lifelike carp is depicted immersed in cool water. In recent years, Rosetsu has been generalized as an "eccentric painter", however, the impact and legacy of his teacher, Maruyama Ōkyo is remarkable. A work of great realism, a single carp is depicted alongside a gentle stream. Simple yet lifelike, this work reflects Rosetsu's talent and his quick inheritance of the Maruyama school "realism".

Click here for more info about Nagasawa Rosetsu


Ohashi Suiseki ”Kittens”

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist

43×52cm / 147×66cm

Drawn by the master of tiger paintings, Ohashi Suiseki, the artist drawing cats early on, when he was still living in his hometown, in the Mino Province (present Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture). This work was made during his later years. During then, he was known to draw cats (especially,) with specific auspicious intent. "Mao", the Chinese pronunciation of cat, was believed to signify longevity since it shared the same pronunciation as "耄", meaning eighty, or ninety years old. The China Roses that surround the kittens were also called "Moon Flowers and "Everlasting Spring Flowers". Always in full bloom, these flowers bloom every month. Charming yet meaningful, the appeal of this work lies its loveliness and sophistication.


Yamamoto Baiitsu ”Ukishima”

Slight color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by Tajika Chikuson
39×65cm / 140×79cm

This piece was made in 1835 when Yamamoto was 42. Alongside symbolic motifs, this depiction of Mt. Fuji features elegance and realism. In the past, there used to be swamps of varying sizes around Mt.Fuji, known collectively as the Ukishima Marsh. If this work was drawn from the view from Ushikima Marsh, perhaps it is Mt. Ashitaka depicted in the foreground. Illustrating the post-rainfall phenomenon of clear and sunny skies, this work presents Mt. Fuji at its most divine.


Shimomura Kanzan “Spring”

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist, exhibited at the 1931 Shimomura Kanzan Retrospective

139×51cm / 223×66cm

The work was painted in 1919 when Kanzan was at the age of 47. When illustrating human subjects, Kanzan would tend to depict religious subjects, i.e. those associated with Buddhism. Thus, this work is an exceptional rarity in its depiction of a beautiful woman. In this work, a woman and a cat is drawn with a delicate outline. Subtle and harmonious, the subdued color application complements the tenderness of the female figure and the euphoria of spring’s prime.


Sakai Hoitsu/Kikuchi Gozan/Miyagawa Unzan

(Picture)Sakai Hoitsu

(Inscription)Kikuchi Gozan/Miyagawa Unzan

A diptych, ink and slight color on silk, with a certificate of authenticity by Nakano Kigyoku, illustrated in the sale catalogue of the property of Muto Sanji at Tokyo Bijutsu Club in November, 1924

94×35cm / 183×50cm

To commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of Ogata Korin’s death, in 1815, Sakai Hoitsu organized an ink painting exhibition and published a book entitled “Korin Hyakuzu” (One Hundred Paintings by Korin). This pair of hanging scrolls is a reproduction of a work illustrated in the book. The chicken is painted with a unique sense of humor and sentience, using Tarashikomi, a classic Rinpa technique. Miyazawa Unzan, the poet, praises the work, stating, "This chicken is depicted so lively." Contrastingly, the water-like waves of the crow's feather design suggests another characteristically Rinpa aesthetic. In his poem, Kikuchi Gozan similarly praises the work for its endearing and humorous depiction of the angelic crow, writing, "Don’t nest in emperor's garden, chirp in mine, dear crow of happiness."Previously part of the businessman, Muto Sanji's collection, this work will be available for viewing and purchase from the 20th of March, at the “Rinpa School: The Legacy of Sophistication and the Beauty of Simplicity” exhibition.


Soga Shohaku/Futsukabo Sou “Hina Dolls”

Ink on paper, illustrated in “Kokka” Vol. 1430

94×28cm / 176×34cm

Was there ever a painter who drew dolls in such a way? Whether now or in the past, it’s quite likely that no one other than Soga Shohaku would paint so peculiarly. Is the male doll behind dancing or falling down? In the foreground is a female doll with her arms spread and her body unclothed. The inscription states, “I’m drunk and I can see numerous dolls”. Although this work contradicts the calculated and elaborate drawings Shohaku is also renowned for, the piece presents the artist in a state of liberation, where his brush is free to run and travel, drunk, across the paper. On another note, the work is also interesting in how it displays how Shohaku interacts with the haiku poet, Futsukabo Sou.


Jiun Onko “Calligraphy”

Ink on paper

Jiun Onko was a monk of the Shingon sect in the late Edo period. He placed great emphasis on Buddhism’s strict discipline and advocated “the Shingon Risshu sect”. Well-known as a master of calligraphy, he was also the founder of Unden Shinto.In addition, he wrote a voluminous book, “Bangaku Tsuryo,” which covers a thousand volumes of Sanskrit research.The Chinese character “阿 (a)” in this work is the first letter of Sanskrit, which is said to represent the origin of the universe. In Esoteric Buddhism, it is the origin or birth of all languages, voices and words. It is a perfect piece for the start of a new decade, 2020.



Watanabe Seitei “Mt Penglai and cranes”

Triptych, color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist with the artist's seal
108×35cm / 176×48cm

As the sun rises above Mt. Penglai, a flock of cranes, traditional symbols of longevity, fly by. This auspicious painting depicts the ancient Chinese legendary sacred mountain, Mt. Penglai. It was said to be located in the East Sea of the Shangdong province, where hermits would live and make immortality potions. Subtle but beautiful, the details of the mount that backs the main image contains intricately woven traces of the artist's seals. This piece dates to around 1910’s when Seitei was in his late 50s and in his mature period of painting. Radiating fortune and luck, the auspicious qualities of the painting makes it best suited for display when celebrating the New Year.


Shiba Kokan / Kaburaki Baikei “Birds, insects, flowers and plants”

A diptych, color on silk
96×33㎝ / 175×41㎝

Both Shiba Kokan and Kamuraki Baikei are painters trained in the Nagasaki school and at one time both of them lived around Hamamatsu-cho, so it is easily imagined that they knew each other. This pair of works by the two each vividly depicts creatures near watersides. Breathtaking details in bright colors are the characteristics of the Nagasaki school, but what amazies the viewer is the shrewd sense of observation. Look at the dancing butterfly or the mantis hiding quietly that are so realstically painted, whether their legs, antenna or wings. These persistently realistic pictuires show the strong passion to master the latest trend brought from the continent as well as their rivalry.


Uragami Gyokudo “Calligraphy”

Ink on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Tanikawa Tetsuzo

本紙112×23 全体186×35cm

An Ivy-like climbing plant tumbles, its leaves changing colors here and there, fortunately preventing the tiny thorns from creeping in.

"Master Gyokudo's hand is outrageous and other-worldly" wrote Tanomura Chikuden in his Chikuden-so Shiyu Garoku (Records of Chikuden's Teachers and Friends). Calligraphy by Uragami Gyokudo is certainly extraordinary and is said to be recognizable at first glance with his strongly characteristic and non-conforming ways. If a work represents the creator, his hand certainly shows Gyokudo's anti-conventional spirit. Each character in this calligraphy work, mainly written in semi-cursive script with some cursive characters mixed in, has strong personality, but as a whole piece they are united to provide a unique rhythm. Gyokudo, a Koto harp lover, declared that there was no works of him without a harp. Though there is no Koto directly mentioned in this piece, it may represent the scene in which strings of Koto vibrate the air, fading to silence, and it is not hard to imagine the picture of Gyokudo sitting in front of the seven-stringed Koto harp.


“Fireworks in Ryogoku”

A six-folding screen, color on paper

本紙96×301 全体110×316cm

This work depicts a firework festival during the middle of the Edo period (the age of the eighth Shogun Yoshimune). Known as the oldest firework festival, it eventually developed into the current Sumida River Firework Festival. At the time, there were many pyrotechnists in Ryogoku, and people in Edo enjoyed fireworks as a major summer event. Unlike today, fireworks were hand-held, and pyrotechnists set them off from their boats. The artist is unknown but judging from the hand-held fireworks this work was paintedin mid to late Edo period. Capturing the details of pyrotechnists competing against each other, along with Edo children enjoying the scenery, this is truly a rare and precious piece that provides a feel of "Edo summer".


Takahashi Deishu “Calligraphy”

Ink on silk, with a box signed and sealed by Umezono Yoshimasa


I've reached 50 and my hair has turned grey.
Good times and bad times, I've always looked up the sky.
Alone,reading chinese teachings while enjoying the plum blossoms in the serene daily life.

Along with Katsu Kaishu and Yamaoka Tesshu, Takahashi Deishu is known as one of the three greats of end of Edo era(Tokugawa Shogunate). Also known as master spearman ship. Just like many martial arts masters, Deishu was also a great calligrapher. This piece is one of the rare piece that is written in Kaisho (block style). The letters are clean that reflects his honest character.


Arimoto Toshio “Work”

Dry lacquer, hand colored, 20/20

Arimoto Toshio is known for his mystical style incorporating Western Fresco paintings and Japanese Buddhism. He passed away at the age of 38. This piece was created using a technique called Kanshitsu (dry lacquer) that has traditionally being used for sculpting Buddha. Arimoto Yoko, his wife, states that the three dimenstional work expresses Arimoto's intention straightforwardly. Arimoto was very fond of utilizing his crafty skills, and created wood carving pieces in-between his painting production. There is a certain warmth and nobility in this piece that reminds us of sacred sculptures.


Nagasawa Rosetsu “Sparrows and azalea”

108×36cm / 200×51cm

Azalea in full bloom lively spreading its branches, and sparrows are actively moving around it. This scenery from early summer is so full of life. It is as if you can hear the birds singing. Rosetsu's extraordinary talent and energy is so abundantly expressed in this piece.

(Ink and color on silk, with a signed and sealed by Oi Josui, illustrated in "Nagasawa Rosetsu - An Entertainer from Kyoto" published by the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in 2017)


Ikeno Taiga / Nakai Riken “Peach blossom spring”

Ink and color on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Yamanaka Rankei, illustrated in the sale catalogue of the property of a certain family at Osaka Bijutsu Club on 15 December 1935, illustrated in the sale catalogue of the property of Koshu Imai family and a certain family at Kanazawa Bijutsu Club on 28 November 1936
132×55cm / 207×72cm

Ikeno Taiga is considered one of the great masters of Japanese literai paintings, displaying a talent for both calligraphy and paintings. Depictions of the Peach Blossoms Spring derive from the famous fable by a Chinese poet Tao Yuanming. The inscriptions to painting by a Confucian scholar Nakai Riken also refers the story. The work was created in 1771 from the period of maturity of the artist. Mountains are outlined with a dried brushwork and light and shadow is described by applying faint red and blue color to the side of mountains. A river flowing slowly seems to invite fisherman to the Shangri-La.


Ogata Kenzan “Cherry blossoms”

Ink and color on fan-shaped paper, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue "Art of Rinpa" at Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art

Kenzan is famous for his ceramics, but he was also a talented painter. Following his older brother's footsteps, Kenzan started to show his gift as a painter in later years. This is a very gentle piece illustrating cherry blossoms with gradations of ink and pale pink. Unlike his brother, Korin, Kenzan found his style in the simplicity.


Matsuo Basho “Poem”

Ink on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Okura Kyusui

The haiku master, Matsuo Basho changed haikai into spiritual artform. He travelled throughout his life and wrote poems of his journey. This piece is written at the age of 45 when he visited Ise shrine. He was looking for a plum tree in the shrine, and was informed that there is one tree inside the lodge for god's servants. He expresses the beauty of the tree in this poem.


Ito Jakuchu “Ebisu (god of commerce)”

Ink on paper

This is a very humorous painting using "Rusu Moyo," the indirect expression of a motif by painting the things around the motif and not itself. Ebisu (god of commerce) is illustrated here by painting the fishing rod and the fish that Ebisu caught. This is a celebratory piece with lively fish that symbolizes harvest and wealth. Jakuchu's signature technique Sujime-gaki(split-ink method) is used in the scale. The seal is known as Senkaku Zeppitsu used around 1772 - 1780 for the works that Jakuchu particularly favored.



Omoda Seiju “Powdered snow”

Color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist, with a certificate of authenticity by Tokyo Bijutsu Club


This is a masterpiee by Omoda Seiju, in which he took the Japanese painting to another level by merging realism and decorative elements of Rimpa style.Omoda states "it's impossible to paint the temparature in the cold air or the ambiance that foggy morning brings. What you can paint is the forms. I keep on painting the forms and it starts to create the tone or the air." Probably, by "tone" or "air", he is reffering to some kind of an "aura." Please check out the "aura" he creates in this piece.


Suzuki Shonen “Fairy Tales”

Color on paper, polyptych of twelve-scrolls


Suzki Shonen was known as "present Shohaku" for his dynamic and bold painting style. This piece depicts scenes from Japanese faiy tales. The characters are illustrated with full of personality, which shows Shonen's eccentricity and humor.


Yosa Buson “Poem with a Scarecrow”

Ink on paper, with a certificate of authenticity by Matsumura Goshun


The poem reflects the story by Onono Komachi. The scarecrow drawn in bold brushworks seems as if it predicts the storm. The simple composition stimulates our imagination and invokes the lively scenery. This piece certainly shows the aethetics of Haiga.


Yosa Buson “Landscape”


Buson painted this piece at the age of 55 - 62. The serene landscape is calming and warm. The change of season is expressed in the pale blue of the mountain in the distant and the tan color of the trees. The human figures are illustrated in such a gentle manner, which puts smile on viewer's face. This piece is very symbolic of Buson, who was also known as a literati.

(Ink and slight color on silk, with a certificate of authenticity by Tanomur Chokunyu, illustrated in "Nanga Jutaikashu" published in 1910 and "Buson Zenshu" vol.6 published in 1998)


Suzuki Shonen “Fireflies”

Ink and color on silk, with a box signed and sealed by the artist


Suzuki Shonen was a well-known painter in Kyoto, who was known for his bold paintings. He was often compared with Shohaku for his style. This painting is a very unique piece where he illustrated the serene Japanese night scenery where the night breeze blowing over the river and the lights from fireflies created mysterious ambiance. This is very appealing especially in the hot summer days. This year commemorates 170th anniversary of his birth and 100th from his passing. Why not enjoy the cool night breeze with this piece.


Hayashi Jikko “Tiger standing in the wind”


A tiger standing against the wind. The artist is Hayashi Jikko, a Nanga style artist from Mito. He is known as one of the artist with unorthodox style, just as Ito Jakuchu, Soga Shohaku and Nagasawa Rosetsu. Jikko studied under Tachihara Suiken, but he mostly taught himself and developed his own style. The result is his unique animal paintings. Captivating and dynamic, his paintings grab viewer's heart.

(Ink and slight color on paper, with a box signed and sealed by Matsushita Hidemaro, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue "Hayashi Jikko" at Itabashi Art Museum in 1988.)


Hakuin Ekaku “Shoki”

Ink on paper

Hakuin Ekaku sends us a message on how we are supposed to be as a being through the bold illustration of Shoki with powerful glaring eyes and dynamic lines of the robes. The writing here is an excerpt of script of a scene from Japanese Noh theatre "Shoki", where Shoki vows to protect the country.The powerfulness of this piece shows Hakuin's prayer and devotion for people's happiness.Hakuin's teaching reaches to our soul through Shoki's strong stare.


Mikuma Katen “Frog and cherry blossoms”

Color on silk

Mikuma Katen painted Sakura(cherry blossoms) throughout his career, and established a style called Mikuma-ha. Mikuma Roko, Hirose Kain, Oda Shitsushtsu were some of the artists who were schooled. His artist name, Katen, means "flower fanatics" or "sakura lover". He devoted his life painting the flower regardless of his poverty. Connoting its fragility, sakura illustrated by Katen bloom beautifully in his paintings. He might have reflected himself in the frog adoring sakura. In his death wish, he noted that he wished to scatter his ashes in the river, and plant sakura tree. This piece truely shows us his passion and love for sakura.