Chikanobu woodblock prints series, letterbox with wood-carved Fujin and Raijin, and masterpiece paintings are here.

woodblock print

April 10, 2022

This time, I visited antique markets for two consecutive days. The first day was a market in Okayama Prefecture. The weather was fine and the sky was clear. Cherry blossoms had begun to fall early and petals were falling on the asphalt. Unfortunately, we were not able to get any hanging scrolls at this market, but we were able to get a letterbox with the Wind God (Fujin) and Thunder God (Raijin) and a series of eight prints by Yoshu Chikanobu. The second day was spent in Izumo City in Shimane, a neighboring prefecture. Izumo is called the land of the gods and is also a power spot. Izumo Taisha Shrine is famous. In Japan, the month of October is also called Kanna-zuki. It means the month of the gods. On the other hand, in Izumo, it is called Kamiari-zuki. In October, it is said that the gods of Japan gather at Izumo-taisha Shrine to discuss foresight, deliberations, and plans beyond human knowledge. If you have the chance, please visit Izumo-taisha Shrine. You will experience firsthand the sacred atmosphere that transcends logic. The market in Izumo is very unique in that it is a rare market specializing in calligraphy and paintings. Interestingly, just like at Izumo-taisha Shrine, antique dealers from all over Japan gather in Izumo with their hanging scrolls. Therefore, I can get hanging scrolls from all over Japan just by going to Izumo, and I can introduce them to people all over the world. It is very helpful. I would like to introduce some good quality kakejiku scrolls that I have found in this market.


Wooden letterbox, carved with "wind god (Fujin) and thunder god (Raijin)"

Fumibako is originally a box for storing letters and other objects, but it is also valuable as an ornament, decorated with carvings, maki-e lacquerware, and mother-of-pearl inlay. In addition to its refined and elegant appearance, the most eye-catching feature is the carving of the Wind God and Thunder God on the lid.

Fujin Raijin

The Wind God and Thunder God are beautifully sculpted on a wave-patterned background. Although both Wind God and Thunder God are named "God," they are fearsome beings that bring about natural disasters. In other words, they are deities of nature and commandments. They are reminders that we should be grateful for the blessings of nature and cherish them. It has something to do with  "sustainability" in recent days. The Wind God and Thunder God painting by Tawaraya Sotatsu (1570-1643) of the Rimpa school is very famous.

Yoshu Chikanobu

Yoshu Chikanobu "Contemporary Eight Scenic Views of Tokyo" Woodblock prints 8pcs (1887)

The artist of this woodblock series is Yoshu Chikanobu (1835-1912). He was Ukiyoe artist from the late Edo period to the Meiji period. He excelled at portraying beautiful women and specialized in triptych genre paintings. He was a student of Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) and Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900). He also had military experience and continued to paint Edo-style Ukiyoe in civilized Tokyo. This series of eight paintings depicts the scenery of Tokyo as it changed from the Edo period to the Meiji period, along with beautiful women. I was lucky because it is very rare to get all eight pieces together.

Matsuo Basho

Matsuo Basho "Painting & Haiku"

Matsuo Basho was a haiku poet of the early Edo period. He traveled throughout Japan composing haiku. He produced many excellent students and he was called a master of haiku. He is famous for his "Oku no Hosomichi" (The Narrow Road to the Deep North). On the other hand, there is a theory that Matsuo Basho may have been a Ninja. Basho is said to have walked 2.400 kilometers in about five months. This haiku is "Umegakani Notto hinoderu Yamajikana", the translation is that "The morning sun rises without warning on the mountain path, which smells of Ume plum blossoms". The signature is Hasewo. Honestly speaking, this is the first time that I could get Basho's work and am so excited.


Yukawa Shodo "Hakuzosu"

This work here depicts the Hakuzosu by Yukawa Shodo. This is my favorite painting subject. It is a fox disguised as a monk and is considered a type of yokai. The legend of Hakuzosu comes from the legend that a monster fox, whose small fox was killed by a hunter, disguised itself as a monk of a temple and admonished the hunter not to kill the fox. Many painters have depicted this subject. Yukawa Shodo was born in Wakayama prefecture and studied painting in Kyoto under Suzuki Shonen, who also painted Hakuzosu. Its Suzuki Shonen also painted a folding screen of Hakuzosu. One day in 1960, the owner of this folding screen painting visited Ryugenin temple in Kyoto. He was troubled by a slump in the family business and was told by a gyoja that if he had a fox scroll or folding screen, he should deliver it to any temple as soon as possible. While searching for that temple, he got stuck in front of Ryugenin and decided to deliver the folding screen to Ryugenin. After that, the owner lived in peace, the story goes. That folding screen is still on display at Ryugenin Temple in Kyoto.


Matsumra Goshun "Crow"

Please take a look at this very emotional work painted in one color of sumi ink. The shape is that of a crow. But there is no face. Is it looking back or was it intentionally not painted? Either way, it attracts the viewer's attention. The artist is Matsumura Goshun. Painter of the middle to late Edo period. Founder of the Shijo School. He left behind powerful portraits and flower-and-bird paintings in the style of Yosa Buson, and many excellent haiga as well. is poetic sketching was light and easy to understand, and became the mainstream of the Kyoto art world.

Thank you for reading my blog. There is something behind works. We just don't know it yet. It will be great if you could enjoy some stories related to each wonderful Japanese work.