Japan art and Yashima Gakutei: High culture

Japan art and Yashima GakuteiHigh culture

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The artist and poet Yashima Gakutei (1786-1868) produced many cultural art pieces. He was born during the Edo Period. However, many aspects of his life remain unknown. Indeed, the year Gakutei was born is speculative, even if it can be narrowed down to the year normally shown.

It is known that he was born illegitimate. Thus he joined the clan of Yashima after his mother married into this family.

Portland Art Museum says, “Born in 1786, Yashima Gakutei was a good Ukiyo-e craftsman, but was better known as a writer and poet. He was a kyoka-poet, putting his own poems on his prints. Gakutei also translated a 16th-century Chinese novel, “His-yi” (Journey to the West) into Japanese and illustrated the book with his own designs. Gakutei produced a number of excellent surimono and book illustrations.”

The cultural angle to many of Gakutei’s artwork – along with translating a famous sixteenth-century novel – points in the direction of his deep love of Japanese and Chinese high culture. Hence, some art pieces highlight deep cultural dimensions.

He studied under Totoya Hokkei and Hokusai. Thus, two amazing artists are connected to Gakutei. Therefore, while his name isn’t famous in Japan compared with other artists born in the same period, his cultural art is deeply admired. 

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