Japanese Language Blog

Japanese Paintings Posted by on Nov 25, 2010 in Culture

Japanese paintings that were produced before WWI were varied and created by some of Japan’s famous painters. To see just how great these paintings are, let’s take a look at a few of these paintings.

Sesshū Tōyō (雪舟等) is considered one of the greatest Japanese artists of all time. One of his most well known paintings is “shihon bokuga tansai ama no hashidatezu” (紙本墨画淡彩天橋立図) which means “View ofAma no Hashidate”. This painting is drawn in a realistic bird’s eye view of a mountain, which was a radical break from the paintings that were influenced by Chinese aesthetics.

Tawaraya Sōtatsu (俵屋) was a master painter who rose to paint in the royal court. He developed an original style of painting that utilized black ink as a color and was known for his bold lines. One of his paintings is called “shihon bokuga renchi suikinzu” (紙本墨画蓮池水禽) or “Water Fowl in the Lotus Pond”.


Uragami Gyokudō (浦上玉) was actually known as a famous musician when he was alive, but after his death his paintings became popular. One of his paintings is called “shihon bokuga tōunshisetsuzu” (紙本墨画凍雪篩雲図) or Snow Sifted Through Frozen Clouds. His works often feature bold brushstrokes that have a steady pattern.

Maruyama Ōkyo (圓山應) used Western styles of painting such as highlighting shadows and using realistic proportions. His paintings are very realistic and unapologetic; almost to the point where they are undignified and without sentiment. One of his paintings is called “shihontansai yukimatsuzu” (紙本淡彩雪松) or “ Pine Trees in Snow”.

Ike no Taiga (池大) was born from a poor family of farmers. However, he was talented enough to become a professional painter by age 14. One of his paintings is called “shihonkinjichoshoku rōkakusan suizu” (紙本金地著色楼閣山水図) which is a painting of a Chinese landscape. Ike no Taiga was influenced by Chinese painters, and his word reflect Chinese styles of painting.

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  1. Michael A. Robson:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.