Kiyokata Kaburaki and Japan art: Lure of Kamakura
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Japanese artist Kiyokata Kaburaki (Kaburagi) was born in 1878 during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and died in 1972. He was born in Tokyo but in his later life, he found solace in Kamakura.
Two of the art pieces in this article belong to the Meiji Period and the other to the early Showa Period. Thus one can imagine how Kiyokata witnessed the modernization processes of Meiji to the utter devastation of the war period – and the onslaught of rapid modernization once more in the last two decades of his life.
Kamakura and Kita-Kamakura areas with famous Buddhist temples and delightful gardens – along with the richness of culture and history – attracted many artists. Hence, the lure of this area attracted Kuroda Seiki, Kume Keiichirō, Kishida Ryūsei, Ogura Yuki, Maeda Seison, Moriya Tadashi, Ōta Chōu, Hirayama Ikuo, Itō Shinsui, and others. Therefore, Kiyokata also found solace in this part of Japan.
One can easily imagine Kiyotaka relaxing in countless Buddhist temples and witnessing the seasonal gardens in Kamakura and Kita Kamakura. While quietly enjoying the artistic angle that attracted so many established artists. Hence, while the modernization clock ticks rapidly in all developed cities in Japan, the environs of Kita Kamakura ticks to Buddhism, culture, history, and tradition.
The British Museum says, “Once his position as a leading Nihonga painter was secure, however, he felt able to refer to himself as ‘Kiyokata, last painter in the Ukiyo-e line’ (‘Ukiyo-e matsuryu Kiyokata’) in an inscription on the box of a copy he made of one of Shunsho’s great series, ‘Manners and Customs of Women in the Twelve Months’. It was about this time, in 1935, that he did his own tribute to Shunsho, a series called ‘Manners and Customs of the Twelve Months in the Meiji Era’.”
Yuki Somei (1875-1957) introduced the esteemed Itō Shinsui to the “neo-‘Ukiyo-e’ painter” Kiyokata. Thus they often relaxed in the environs of Kamakura together after a long day in the studio – or working on various projects. They both passed away within a short time of each other.
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