Japan art and Yamamoto Kōitsu (1843-1905): Mysterious Heron and a Crane

Japan art and Yamamoto Kōitsu (1843-1905): Mysterious Heron and a Crane

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yamamoto Kōitsu (Kōichi) was born in the Edo period and died during the revolutionary Meiji era. However, the exact years of his birth and death are not set in stone but reportedly 1843-1905.

It is known that he worked for the Kiritsu Kōshōgaisha that was founded in 1874. His duties were designs and sketches for lacquerware, metal crafts, and other areas related to painting. Therefore, he utilized Edo rinpa (rimpa) that he learned from his creative father.

Kōitsu would leave Tokyo and relocate to the more sedate Kanazawa. Once settled, he would teach the esteemed Ishizaki Kōyō (1884-1947). Indeed, for Kōyō, the natural beauty of rinpa would always stay in his heart. Thus, during his informative years, he was blessed to study under the tutelage of Kōitsu.

The adorable art piece titled White Heron on Hinoki Cypress by Kōitsu is especially stunning. This is based on the mysterious nature of the heron depicted by Kōitsu. Hence, the ghost-like leaves that don’t diminish the transparent and delightful feathers of the heron. Therefore, the rhythmic and ghostly leaves penetrate the transfixed bird.

In the opposite direction, the crane is eagerly searching and looks far from the majestic heron. However, Kōitsu exploits such simplicity by utilizing branches and a scene that looks so familiar.


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