Kishida Ryūsei mentions the painting Young Barley Shoots several times in his diary from 1920. On February 17, he states that the landscape of barley fields, “purple shrouded sky, and trees in the forest” near the home of his disciple Tsubaki Sadao, are “wonderful.” On March 11, he took along his daughter Reiko, who was at the height of her childlike beauty, thinking “today I would add her to the scene.” He probably thought long and hard about where to have her stand in order to produce the most streamlined composition. He completed the work on March 16. The wind appears to have been strong that day, but that does not show in the painting. Instead, the painting seems calm and the sky clear. His daughter’s red clothing braces the landscape, making the entire spring-like scene appear all the more free and easy.
The strength that everyone had admired in Ryūsei’s previous paintings is not visible here. Perhaps the artist was not interested in capturing a sense of vitality in this painting. Instead, he seems to have been more interested in depicting the atmosphere settling around the path as it wound its way through the barley and trees. It is ironic that this painting resembles the work of the Impressionists, whom Ryūsei often said he disliked.