The Natural World: Landscapes in Japan

Introducing various beautiful works of art depicting Japanese Landscapes in chronological order. Japanese culture has been a near-mystery to the Western hemisphere for thousands of years. Its majesty and beauty have been popularized through Western culture . . . The culture of Japan has evolved greatly over the millennia, from the country's prehistoric Jōmon period, to its contemporary modern culture, which absorbs influences from Asia, Europe, and North America. The inhabitants of Japan experienced a long period of relative isolation from the outside world during the Tokugawa Shogunate after Japanese missions to Imperial China, until the arrival of "The Black Ships" and the Meiji period.


Introducing Landscape of Four Seasons: Winter (Muromachi period, 15th century) by Sesshū Tōyō, Tokyo National Museum; The Mazarin Chest (ca. 1640 – 1644), artist Unknown, Victoria and Albert Museum; Kanō Eisen'in Hisanobu, a copy of the celebrated handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons originally painted in 1486 by artist Sesshū Tōyō, by Kanō Eisen'in Hisanobu (1810); This is Number 57 of "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo," composed of 119 landscape and genre of mid-19th-century Edo in ukiyo-e color woodcut.No 57, Grounds of Kameido Tenjin Shrine, out of the “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo,” composed of 119 landscape and genre of mid-19th century Edo (1856) by Utagawa Hiroshige, Cincinnati Art Museum; Landscape with a Castle (c. 1895) by Hashimoto Gaho, The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; and finally Mt. Penglai (Mountain of Immortals) (1924) by Tomioka Tessai, Adachi Museum of Art.  Each piece reflects an era in Japan of tradition and change, with influence from the outside world while deep cultural roots were kept in tack.


Painting has been an art [form] in Japan for a very long time: the brush is a traditional writing and painting tool, and the extension of that to its use as an artist's tool was probably natural. Japanese painters are often categorized by what they[‘ve] painted, as most of them constrained themselves solely to subjects such as animals, landscapes, or figures. Native Japanese painting techniques are still in use today, as well as techniques adopted from continental Asia and from the West. Schools of painting such as the Kanō school of the 16th century became known for their bold brush strokes and contrast between light and dark, especially after Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Leyasu began to use this style.


"Sesshū Tōyō." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 30 April 2016.<ū_Tōyō>.


"Mazarin Chest." Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. 30 April 2016.<>.


"Kanō Eisen'in Hisanobu." British Museum. Web. 30 April 2016.<>.


"No. 57, Grounds of Kameido Tenjin Shrine.” British Museum. Web. 30 April 2016. <http: / / /research /collection_online /collection_object_details.aspx?objectid="786967">.


"Hashimoto Gahō." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.<ō>.


"Tomioka Tessai." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.<>.


“Culture of Japan." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 30 Apr. 2016.<>.


"Japanese Culture." PR in Japan Introductory Page. Web. 30 Apr. 2016. <http: / / /projects /spring01 /newsome /introduction.html>.



Painted on silk, with a composition that is dynamic, but firmly structured and stable while introducing Chinese techniques into this painting of Japan's winter. Sesshū Tōyō (Japanese: 雪舟 等楊; Oda Tōyō since 1431, also known as Tōyō, Unkoku, or Bikeisai; 1420 – 26 August 1506) was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting from the middle Muromachi period. He was born into the samurai Oda family (小田家), then brought up and educated to become a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest. However, early in life he displayed a talent for visual arts, and eventually became one of the greatest Japanese artists of his time, widely revered throughout Japan and China. (Sesshū Tōyō)
Chest, wood covered in black, gold and silver lacquer, inlaid with gold, silver and shell, and with copper fittings, depicting scenes from the Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Soga Brothers. The Mazarin Chest was manufactured in Kyoto in about 1640. It is assumed that, like other examples of export lacquer, it was shipped directly to Europe or to an official of the Dutch East India Company serving in the Dutch East Indies. The earliest information concerning its provenance derives from the coat of arms of the Mazarin-La Meilleraye family on its French steel key, suggesting that it was once in their possession. (Mazarin Chest)
A copy of the celebrated handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons, painted in 1486 by Sesshū Tōyō. Painting, handscroll. Chinese landscapes with mountains, craggy rocks, trees, expanses of water, and figures; copy of 'Landscape of Four Seasons' handscroll, originally by Sesshu and later copied by Kano Eisen'in Hisanobu (Furunobu). Ink and light colour on paper. (Kanō Eisen'in Hisanobu)
This is Number 57 of "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo," composed of 119 landscape and genre of mid-19th-century Edo in ukiyo-e color woodcut. Colour woodblock print. View through hanging wisteria flowers: drum bridge spanning lake; people crossing bridge; three sparrows flying. Inscribed, signed, sealed and marked. (No. 57)
This long river is the Yangtze River in China. There are people watching the fishing boats from a lookout overhanging the river. The way the trees and gazebo in the foreground are depicted in briskly modulated lines and adroit shades of sumi demonstrates Gaho’s definite technique and refined style as a prodigy of the Kano school. Hashimoto Gahō (橋本 雅邦?, August 21, 1835 – January 13, 1908) was a Japanese painter, one of the last to paint in the style of the Kanō school. (Hashimoto Gahō)
Color on silk. Mt.Penglai (Horai-san) is the subject that Tessai favored throughout his life. This work, which was produced in his later years, is reminiscent of rural Japanese landscapes; the mountains are low and gentle, the aromatic plum blossoms are in bloom, and the cranes are playing. This may be the ideal world that Tessai, who had read numerous books and had walked far and wide, finally found. Interestingly, the poem in the picture, "mountains are like Horai, people are like hermits," seems to express Tessai's feelings at that time. Tomioka Tessai (富岡 鉄斎?, 27 January 1837 – 31 December 1924) was the pseudonym for a painter and calligrapher in imperial Japan. He is regarded as the last major artist in the Bunjinga tradition and one of the first major artists of the Nihonga style. His real name was Yusuke, which he later changed to Hyakuren. (Tomioka Tessai)
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