Japan art and Kikuchi Yosai: Edo to early Meiji

Japan art and Kikuchi YōsaiEdo to early Meiji

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Kikuchi Yōsai was born in the late eighteenth century during the Edo Period. However, the longevity of his life meant that he witnessed the early period of the Meiji Restoration. Therefore, while most of his life belongs to the Edo Period, Yōsai would influence many individuals throughout the Meiji Period – long after he passed away. 

His father was a low-ranking samurai. After his father saw the artistic progression of Yōsai, he gave him the go-ahead to take up this profession. However, his father died when Yōsai was only 18 years old.

Yōsai studied the different artistic schools of Kanō, Maruyama, and Shijō. He also studied art under Takata Enjō. Despite this, Yōsai would focus on his own individual style. 

In time, Yōsai developed a passion for history. Thus he devoted his time to studying history and researching archeology. Then the area he studied was brought alive by his monochrome ink paintings of notable historical figures. 

He taught his pupils aspects of natural structure. However, he sought his pupils to focus on subject matters that appealed to them – rather than dictating.

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