Japanese art and Tanaka Hōji (1812-1885)

Japanese art and Tanaka Hōji (1812-1885)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Tanaka Hōji (1812-1885) isn’t the most famous of artists in the land of the rising sun. Despite this, he compiled some notable cultural art pieces.

Hōji witnessed enormous cultural, political, and social convulsions throughout his life. Initially, he belonged to the rich cultural traditions of rinpa (rimpa) art that found comfort during the Edo Period. Therefore, despite the famous impact of ukiyo-e, the rinpa style of art was focused on cultural themes and high culture. 

From an early age, Hōji studied under the esteemed Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829). Hence, this period of his life brought him a firm artistic, cultural, moral, and religious identity. However, the Meiji Restoration (1868) would alter the cultural, political, and religious landscape of Japan.

In another article, I comment, “The calming influence of Hōitsu and his rich cultural knowledge of art, culture, and literature impacted heavily on the young Hōji during his informative years. Indeed, Hōitsu had become a Buddhist holy man during the last few decades of his life.”

In the world of art, many younger Japanese artists would now focus on many aspects of European art. Yet, for Hōji, the comfort of the old world comforted him during the mass convulsions of the Meiji Period. Therefore, the artistic clock of rinpa remained in his artistic soul.

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