Nihon Bijutsu-Shi (Japanese Art History) (日本美術史)

"Nihon bijutsu-shi" refers to the chronological explanation - or the academic field - of Japanese art history, such as the trend of Japanese art, the transition of its style, the research of the representative works and artists in each period, their mutual influence, and the historical background of the works and artists - that is, the works' and artists' relation with Japanese politics, economy, religion, customs, society, literature and others.

Only the summary of Japanese art history is explained in this section, and the detail about art works in each period will be explained in other sections.

Beginning of Japanese art history

The Japanese word 'bijutsu' is the translation of the Western word that means 'art,' and in A.D. 1873, the then Japanese government participated in the Vienna International Exhibition, and used for the first time 'bijutsu' as the translation of the German word 'Kunstgewerbe' in order to distinguish Japanese exhibits from others, they say. At that time, 'bijutsu' included poetry, music, and others, so it was almost synonymous with 'geijutsu' (today's Japanese word that means art and other artistic skills). It was only in the Meiji period that the word 'bijutsu' itself was devised as the Japanese equivalent of the Western concept of 'art,' so the word 'Nihon bijutsu' (Japanese art) or 'Nihon bijutsu-shi' (Japanese art history) had not been seen until then. Naturally, it was only in the Meiji period that the Japanese words related to 'bijutsu,' such as 'bijutsu-kan' (an art museum), 'bijutsu-ka' (an artist), and 'bijutsu-shi' (art history), began to be used. Bijutsu-kan' was used as the word to mean an art exhibition building for the first time in 1877, when the First National Industrial Exhibition was held in Ueno, Tokyo. Tokyo Fine Arts School (today's fine arts faculty of Tokyo University of the Arts), which started in 1889, opened the course of aesthetics and art history, and around then the word of art history began to be used with a similar meaning to today's. In 1900, the book with the title "The original draft of the brief history of Japanese art" was published, which is deemed the first book written on art history in Japan.

Range that Japanese art history covers

Geographically speaking, it is common that the arts produced or enjoyed on the Japanese archipelago are regarded as the objects which Japanese art history covers. The history of art in the Ainu tribe, which inhabits mainly Hokkaido Prefecture and has a culture of its own, is sometimes discussed separately from what is called Japanese art history, and this is the same as the history of the art from Ryukyu (today's Okinawa Prefecture). And the above-mentioned idea about the geographical range does not always apply to the art from the 20th century, because many Japanese artists have come to produce their arts only in foreign countries or make their activities worldwide.

Next, when it comes to the genre of the art history, handicrafts, as well as paintings and sculptures, occupy a large part in Japanese art, so art history cannot be discussed without touching on the fields of metal work, lacquer work, dyeing and weaving work, ceramic ware, and so on. Swords and arms cannot be disdained in the tradition of Japanese art, and especially swords have been sanctified as the soul of samurai, so that the exterior ornament, the attached tools, and the blade itself become appreciated as a symbol of beauty. Similar to the case in China, calligraphy occupied an important genre in Japanese art history.
Calligraphy forms a harmonious whole with poetry and painting in, for example, "suibokuga" (a monochrome painting in India ink), so these three have been appreciated as an inseparable art, and this is symbolized by the existence of the phrase 'The Three Perfections: Calligraphy, Poetry and Painting.'
Besides, the history of architecture and Japanese garden is commonly included in Japanese art history.

Incidentally, various styles of expression have come to be included in 'art' - from the modern age, photographs, graphic arts, and others, and in the present age (after World War Ⅱ), performing arts, happenings, video art, land art, and conceptual art, which are seen in other countries as well - so that the boundary between 'art' and others gradually becomes ambiguous.

Position and characteristics of Japanese art

Japanese art has been greatly influenced by Chinese and Korean art since ancient times, but it also developed a culture of its own, including Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture) in the Heian period. At an early stage of the early modern ages, Christian missionaries came over to Japan, and Western art became known to some Japanese at that time, but its influence on Japanese art was quite limited. Nevertheless, some scholars point out that Japanese art in the Edo period was influenced by Dutch paintings. In the Meiji period, the Japanese government set a national goal of westernization and modernization, and therefore, also in the art field, hired foreigners taught Japanese, and since France was deemed the home of art, some Japanese went there for study. Some learned the technique of Western-style painting, and others became tradition-oriented, which gave birth to Japanese-style painting. Meanwhile, in foreign countries, Japanese art attracted people's attention to its decorativeness, originated the boom of Japonisme (in English, Japanism), and gave artistic stimulation to the impressionists and Art Nouveau.

From a broader perspective, Japanese art is deemed a part of Asian art, and it can also be deemed a part of the art of Buddhist countries, which includes India and China. Japanese art has developed its peculiar style always - except for the Jomon period - under the great influence of other countries - mainly that of China before the early modern ages, and that of Western countries after the modern age. Therefore, in order to understand the trend of Japanese art, it should always be compared with the art history of China and Korea, and if you think Japanese developed their art all by themselves, it is wrong. However, if you regard Japanese art as a poor imitation of Chinese art, it might be wrong as well.

Many European and American art museums have a Japanese art gallery, and this shows they recognize Japanese art as an art with its own unique style. It is true, however, that the Japanese art gallery of the Metropolitan Museum in New York and that of the British Museum in London are both smaller and newer than their Chinese and Egyptian art galleries.

The following is a description focusing on painting, sculpture, handicraft, and architecture.

Prehistoric age
Jomon period

Excavation and research in many places, including the Iwajuku Archaeological Site (in Gunma Prefecture), revealed that there had once existed a Paleolithic culture on the Japanese archipelago, but things that can be called art and design have rarely been found in the relics of the Paleolithic culture. It is from the sites in (and after) this Jomon period, which falls under the Neolithic culture, that the relics people of today regard as 'art' can be found. The Jomon period was the only period that Japanese art developed by itself without the influence and information from abroad. During this period, people made their living mainly with hunting, fishing, and gathering, but the excavation and research in some places, such as the Sannai-Maruyama Archaeological Site (in Aomori Prefecture), revealed that people had already begun cultivating and had enjoyed plentiful diets, so our perspective on this period is changing. The Jomon period is classified, according to the style of the excavated pottery, into six stages, that is, the initial stage, the pre-early stage, the early stage, the middle stage, the late stage, and the final stage. The carbon dating with calibration method shows that the initial stage's pottery dates back to about 16,500 years ago - with the conventional uncalibrated method, it dates back to about 13,000 years ago. Whichever method is right, the initial stage's pottery is the oldest of all ever found in the world.

Organic matter, such as wooden ware and fiber, deteriorates easily in soil, so the excavated relics of this period are mainly occupied with clay artifacts, stone objects, and bone and antler objects. Among others, the pottery shows the transition of historical stages more vividly than anything else. The pottery varies significantly in style depending on when it was made and where it was found, and it is classified into many types. On the whole, it can be said that a characteristic of this period's pottery is that the surface was covered with such various patterns, including what is called "jomon" (a straw-rope pattern, or a cord mark), that the pottery can be considered being too decorative. Before the firing of the pottery, jomon was engraved by pushing a tool - a stick with a twisted thread, and there were varieties of twisting - against the pottery's surface and by rolling the tool on it, and various patterns appeared depending on how the thread was twisted. Besides, on the surface of the pottery are seen various kinds of decoration, such as a pattern engraved with some tool (a bamboo tube, a seashell, or the like), the clay string attachment, and engraved lines. Many of the initial stage's earthen vessels have simple decorations, such as "toryumon" (bean shaped design) and "tsumegatamon" (fingernail-like design). The art and design unique to the Jomon period reached its peak in its middle stage, when the earthen vessels, as well as earthen figurines, became so dynamic in its design as to look too decorative. The typical examples are Katsusaka-shiki doki (the Katsusaka-type earthen vessel) excavated in the Chubu region, and Umataka-shiki doki (the Umataka-type earthen vessel) excavated in Niigata Prefecture. Of the two, the latter is what is called "kaen-shiki doki" (the flame-shaped earthen vessel), and an elaborate decoration like a cockscomb (or a crown) was put on the rim, and clay strings were attached to the vessel's surface for showing an elaborate pattern. From the late to the final stage of the period, the technique of "surikeshi-jomon" (cord mark erasing) appeared, with which part of the engraved "jomon" (cord mark) was erased for setting off the remaining jomon. In these stages, the shape and the decoration of the earthen vessel gradually became more sophisticated than the shamanistic, too decorative ones in the middle stage, and this suggests that the vessel-maker's sense of beauty changed. In the final stage, the type and shape of the earthen vessel became full of variety as its use became varied, so there also appeared a earthen vessel that has the same shape as today's teapot.

The earthen figurines were also relics unique to this period. There exist earthen figurines of various shapes, including those commonly known as the heart-shaped figurine, the horned-owl-like figurine, and the goggle-eyed figurine. They were made with an unique sense of design, so they cut a figure of the real human body completely out of proportion, in other words, they were deformed so much as to be barely recognizable as a human-like figure. They seem to have been made with various shamanistic purposes, and the earthen figurine in the shape of a pregnant woman, for example, seems to have been made with the purpose of praying for the rich harvest of grain.

Jomon-shiki doki (Cord-marked pottery)
The earthen vessels excavated at Sasayama Archaeological Site (in Niigata Prefecture) and owned by Tokamachi City: 57 pieces of earthen vessel, including what is called "kaen-gata doki" (the flame-shaped earthen vessel), were designated as national treasures.

Earthen figurine
The earthen figurine excavated at Tanabatake Archaeological Site in Nagano Prefecture (owned by Chino City): commonly known as 'Jomon Venus'
Well-known archaeological sites
Sannai-Maruyama Archaeological Site (in Aomori Prefecture), Korekawa Archaeological Site (in Aomori Prefecture), Natsushima Shell-Midden (in Kanagawa Prefecture), Torihama Shell-Midden (in Fukui Prefecture), and so on

Yayoi period
The Yayoi period falls under the age of the early agrarian culture, and ranged from about the third century B.C. to about the third century A.D. However, some argue that the Yayoi period should date from a point five centuries earlier, based on a carbon-14 dating report that the earliest earthen vessel of this period excavated in Kitakyushu had been made in the eighth or ninth century B.C. What differed greatly from the previous period was that Japanese culture became influenced by foreign culture and technology, and rice growing and metal artifacts, both from China, led Japanese culture to a new age. It was also in this period that rulers and the ruled diverged as the civilization evolved. Japan was still in the prehistoric age at that time, so we can only know about the Japanese history of this period indirectly from the contemporary Chinese history books. Compared to the previous period's pottery, this period's (called "Yayoi-shiki doki" [Yayoi pottery]) became sophisticated in shape and moderate in decoration. In contrast to the Jomon period, which lasted more than ten millennia, the Yayoi period lasted only several hundred years, and the Yayoi period is classified, according to the style of the excavated articles, into three stages, that is, the early stage, the middle stage, and the late stage.

Of all earthen vessels of this period, the crock-shaped vessel, excavated in Mukaigaoka-Yayoi-cho (the present Yayoi, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo Metropolis) next to Tokyo Imperial University (today's Tokyo University) in 1874, was found for the first time in the history of Japanese archeology. "Yayoi," which came from the excavation site, took root as the name of the pottery and became the period's name, too. The Yayoi pottery was made at first in the northern part of the Kyushu region, which is situated close to China and the Korean Peninsula, and then Yayoi pottery began to replace Jomon pottery in other regions as well, so the excavation site of the Yayoi pottery ranges nationwide except for Hokkaido Island. Jomon pottery was sometimes too decorative, whereas Yayoi pottery was mostly moderate and sophisticated in both shape and pattern. Some earthen vessels were engraved with a human face on their rim, but in general, the figurative expression of a human is rare during this period, and the earthen figurines enthusiastically made in the former period was almost gone in this period. Besides pottery, there exist other excavated articles as well, such as metal artifacts (bronze ware, ironware, and others), stone objects, bone and antler objects, and shell objects. In the category of bronze ware, there were bronze swords, bronze pikes, bronze dagger-axes, bronze bells, bronze mirrors, and so on. Of all, the most symbolic, typical bronze ware of the period is supposed to be the bronze bell. The bronze bell is in the shape of a flattened-out-temple-bell (temple bell itself appeared later in Japan), and the bronze bell is supposed to have had its prototype in the Korean Peninsula, but it developed uniquely in Japan. Some bronze bells have a reed inside, so the prototype seems to have been a kind of wind instrument, but the bell seems to have gradually lost its use as a musical instrument and to have become an implement for Shinto rituals. Every bell is similar in its basic shape, while the size and surface decoration varies, and some bells have a simple drawing on the surface. The bell is imagined to have given off a gold radiance at first, and to have flaunted the owner's wealth and dignity with the radiance. Other bronze ware, including the bronze sword, seems to have lost its original use as a weapon and to have become an implement for Shinto rituals.

Yayoi pottery
Bronze bell
There exist some well-known bronze bells, such as the bronze bell that is said to have been excavated in Kagawa Prefecture - this is owned by the Tokyo National Museum, and is designated as a national treasure - and the bronze bell that was excavated in Sakuragaoka, Kobe City - this is owned by the Kobe City Museum, and is also designated as a national treasure.

Well-known archaeological sites
Toro Archaeological Site (in Shizuoka Prefecture), Karako Archaeological Site (in Nara Prefecture), Kojindani Archaeological Site (in Shimane Prefecture), Yoshinogari Archaeological Site (in Saga Prefecture), and so on
Kofun period

Roughly speaking, the Kofun period refers to the time that ranged from the later third century to the middle of the sixth century. Japan had been divided into small states, but around this period, a powerful royal authority was established. The typical relic of this period is "kofun" (mounded tomb) - the period's name also comes from this - particularly "zenpo-koen-fun" (keyhole-shaped mounded tomb). Burial mounds had already been constructed in the Yayoi period mainly in Western Japan, and from around the later third century, what is called zenpo-koen-fun -- a large-scale tomb peculiar to Japan -- began to be constructed mainly in the Yamato Basin. The Hashihaka Mounded Tomb in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture, is said to have been the earliest example of kofun. The fact that such large-scale public works were possible implies the development of work skills and the establishment of the royal authority which not only had the power to mobilize a large workforce but also the control over a wide-ranging area. In the fifth century, some zenpo-koen-fun, much larger than before, were constructed mainly in the Osaka Plain. And a typical example is the Daisen Mounded Tomb in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, which is supposed to be the Mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku. Mounded tombs were still constructed in the seventh century - in some local provinces, even until the eighth century - however, with the year 538 (around when Buddhism was introduced into Japan, they say) being the boundary, the period before this year is called the Kofun period, and the time after this is called the Asuka period.

In this period's excavated articles, there are elaborate metal goods, including harness and accouterments, in addition, there were many other items as well, such as earthen vessels, clay artifacts, stone objects, gems, and swords. Of all, the most characteristic excavated article of this period must be the "haniwa." "Haniwa" is an unglazed clay artifact arranged around the mounded tomb, and at first, non-figurative cylindrical haniwa appeared, and before long, bird-shaped haniwa appeared, and then, animal-shaped haniwa (other than bird-shaped ones), and human-shaped haniwa followed that. In the category of animal-shaped haniwa, there are the haniwa of dogs, white whiskered boars (Japanese wild boar), cows, chickens, horses in harnesses, and others, and in the category of human-shaped haniwa, there are the haniwa of warriors in armor, sorceresses, farmers, and other people of various classes and positions. The limitation on the manufacturing process made the shape of these haniwa simple, and the face (eyes and a mouth) of the human-shaped haniwa was mostly depicted by making three horizontal slits. The works are simple in their expression and skill, but nevertheless, they captured people's facial expressions in a dexterous way, so many of them are highly evaluated as art. Some haniwa of warriors in armor are elaborate works, in which the sword and armor at that time were depicted faithfully. Haniwa is academically precious, partly because it provides us with visual information, from which we can know vividly about people's daily life in those days, such as clothes, hairstyle, and makeup.

Haniwa
There exist some well-known haniwa, such as the Man In Armor Haniwa (excavated in Ota City, Gunma Prefecture, and designated as a national treasure), and the Haniwa of the Dancing Man and Woman (excavated in Saitama Prefecture).

Mounded tomb
Zenpo-koen-fun
Daisen Mounded Tomb: supposed to be the Mausoleum of Emperor Nintoku

Ancient and medieval ages
Asuka period (Asuka culture)

From the perspective of art history, the Asuka period ranged from the middle of the sixth century, when Buddhism was officially introduced into Japan, to the later seventh century, around when Japan was under the Emperor Tenchi's reign. Mounded tombs continued to be constructed in this period, but the Kofun period ended with the official introduction of Buddhism into Japan. From the perspective of political history, the Asuka period is commonly said to have ended in A.D. 710 (the year of the national capital transfer to Heijo-kyo). Even from the perspective of art history, the period until 710 is occasionally deemed the Asuka period, but commonly, the period until 710 from 670 (the year "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) says Horyu-ji Temple burned down) -- or from around 673 (the year Emperor Tenmu ascended to the throne) -- is deemed another period (called the Hakuho period, or the Nara period's earlier half).

This period is significant, because Japan accepted Buddhism then - the first religion from abroad - and by that means laid the foundation of its culture after that. The exact year of official introduction of Buddhism via Paekche (an ancient Korean kingdom) into Japan is argued between the A.D. 552-theory (backed up by the official Japanese history book Nihonshoki) and the A.D. 538-theory (backed up by "Jogu Shotoku Hooteisetsu" (Biography of Prince Shotoku) and "Gango-ji Engi" (History of the Gango-ji Temple)), and today, the established theory is the latter. Over the introduction of Buddhism, a conflict between the two influential clans, the Soga clan (pro-Buddhist) and the Mononobe clan (anti-Buddhist), escalated into an armed struggle, and it ended in the pro-Buddhist Soga clan's victory. In the end of the sixth century, the Soga clan started to construct Hoko-ji Temple (also called Asuka-dera Temple), which was the first full-scale Buddhist Temple in Japan. Emperor Yomei's son Prince Umayado, commonly known as Prince Shotoku, became a devout believer in Buddhism, so he constructed Shitenno-ji Temple in the end of the sixth century, and Horyu-ji Temple in the early seventh century. Prince Shotoku is now deified as the person who laid the foundation of the development of Buddhism in Japan, so he is worshiped in every Buddhist temple in Japan regardless of its sect and school. Saiin Garan (Western Precinct) of Horyu-ji Temple is famous as the oldest wooden construction of all existing in the world. However, according to Nihonshoki, Horyu-ji Temple burned down in A.D. 670 and the existing Saiin Garan was reconstructed later (around the end of the seventh century), and this depiction is now widely accepted, partly because the excavation and research proved the truth of the depiction.

Sculptures
The bronze Shaka triad statue: enshrined in the Kondo (Main Hall) of Horyu-ji Temple, and made by Tori Busshi
The wooden standing statue of Kannon Bosatsu (the Budhisattva of Mercy): enshrined at Horyu-ji Temple, and commonly called "Kudara Kannon" (Paekche Kannon)
The wooden standing statue of Kannon Bosatsu: enshrined in Yumedono (literally, Hall of Dreams) of Horyu-ji Temple, and commonly called "Guze Kannon" (literally, Salvation Kannon)
The wooden hanka shiyuizo (seated statue half-inclined in meditation) of Miroku Bosatsu (the Bodhisattva of the Present): enshrined in Koryu-ji Temple, and - some people say - introduced from the Korean Peninsula
Handicrafts
Tamamushi no zushi (The Beetle Wing Shrine) owned by Horyu-ji Temple/Tenjukoku-shucho (Embroidery of Long Life in Heaven) owned by Chugu-ji Temple
Architecture
Nonexistent: Saiin Garan of Horyu-ji Temple has the style of the Asuka period, but it was reconstructed in the later seventh century.

Nara period

From the perspective of art history, the Nara period is commonly thought to have ranged from A.D. 670 (the year Horyu-ji Temple burned down) - or from A.D. 673 (the year Emperor Tenmu ascended to the throne) - to A.D. 794 (the year of the national capital transfer to Heian-kyo). Provided we follow this theory, the time before A.D. 710 (the year of the national capital transfer to Heijo-kyo) is called the Nara period's earlier half (or the Hakuho period), and the time after then is called the Nara period's latter half (or the Tenpyo period). Some people say this period ended in A.D. 784 (the year of the national capital transfer to Nagaoka-kyo).

On the occasion of the national capital transfer to Heijo-kyo in 710, the temples located in Asuka, such as Hoko-ji Temple (also called Gango-ji Temple), Daikandai-ji Temple (also called Daian-ji Temple), Yakushi-ji Temple, and Umaya-zaka-dera Temple (also called Kofuku-ji Temple), all together transferred to Heijo-kyo. And in Heijo-kyo, some temples, such as Todai-ji Temple, Saidai-ji Temple, and Toshodai-ji Temple, were newly constructed. The regime at that time protected Buddhism substantially, and implemented the Buddhism-related work, such as construction of temples, making Buddhist statues, and transcription of sutras, as a national project. Among others, Emperor Shomu became a devout believer in Buddhism, so he ordered to construct the Great Buddha in Todai-ji Temple, and construction of provincial monasteries and nunneries. The culture of this period, whose national capital was Heijo-kyo, was called Tenpyo culture after the imperial era, and it saw the prosperity of Buddhist culture with a highly cosmopolitan character. Shoso-in Treasure Repository (formerly, the storehouse affiliated to Todai-ji Temple) is literally the treasury of the eighth century's art - this art is mainly occupied with the articles treasured by the late Emperor Shomu - so Shoso-in owns many goods from Tang-dynasty China as well as Japanese goods. Therefore, the Tenpyo period has the image of a flourishing period, but it was also the period of uncertainty, when many troubles, such as natural calamities, crop failures, and conflicts between influential court nobles, happened one after another.

Hakuho culture
Paintings
Wall Paintings in Horyu-ji Temple's Kondo (burnt down in 1949)
Sculptures
The bronze standing statue of Sho-Kannon (another name for Guze Kannon): enshrined in Yakushi-ji Temple
The bronze standing statue of Kannon Bosatsu: enshrined in Horyu-ji Temple, and commonly called "Yume-Chigai Kannon" (literally, Dream-Changing Kannon)
The sitting statue of Miroku Butsu (literally, Future Buddha): enshrined in Taima-dera Temple
Bronze Head of Buddha: enshrined in Kofuku-ji Temple
The bronze izo (statue that is seated on a stool or pedestal usually with both legs pendent) of Shaka Nyorai (the Historical Buddha): enshrined in Jindai-ji Temple
The bronze seated statue of Shaka Nyorai: enshrined in Kaniman-ji Temple
The wooden Bosatsu hankazo (seated statue of Bodhisattva half-inclined in meditation): This is enshrined in Chugu-ji Temple, and the temple says it is "Nyoirin Kannon" (Omnipotent God (or Goddess) of Mercy).
Architecture
Saiin Garan of Horyu-ji Temple/Three-story Pagoda of Hokki-ji Temple

Tenpyo culture
Paintings
E Ingakyo (Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect): owned by some institutions, such as the Tokyo University of Arts, Jobonrendai-ji Temple, Daigo-ji Temple, and Idemitsu Museum of Arts
The painting of Kisshoten (Goddess of Beauty, Luck, Prosperity, and Merit): owned by Yakushi-ji Temple
The painting of Prince Shotoku: imperial property
Sculptures
The statue of Rushanabutsu (Deity Coming From The Sun): enshrined in Todai-ji Temple, and commonly called "Nara no Daibutsu" (Great Buddha in Nara)
The dry lacquer statues of Eight Guardians: enshrined in Kofuku-ji Temple, and the statue of Ashura (Bellicose Demon) is most famous of the eight
The dry lacquer statues of Ten Great Disciples: enshrined in Kofuku-ji Temple
The Todai-ji Temple's statues enshrined in its Hokke-do Hall (also called Sangatsu-do Hall) and Kaidan-in Hall: the dry lacquer standing statue of Fukukenjaku Kannon (literally, Never-Empty Lasso Kannon), the standing statue of Nikko Bosatsu (Sunlight Bodhisattva), the standing statue of Gakko Bosatsu (Moonlight Bodhisattva), and so on
The Toshodai-ji Temple's statues enshrined in its Kondo and Kodo (Lecture Hall)
The dry lacquer seated statue of the Buddhist Master Ganjin (in Chinese pinyin, Jianzhen): enshrined in Toshodai-ji Temple
Handicrafts
The treasure stored in Shoso-in Treasure Repository: There exist various kinds of treasure, including the articles from abroad, such as metal works, lacquer works, musical instruments, dyeing and weaving works, three-color-glazed earthen vessels, and swords.

Architecture
Hokke-do Hall (also called Sangatsu-do Hall) in Todai-ji Temple/the treasury of Shoso-in Treasure Repository

Toshodai-ji Temple's Kondo, Kodo, Kyozo (Sutra Repository), and Hozo (Treasure House)

Heian period

The Heian period ranged over about four centuries from A.D. 794 (the year of the national capital transfer to Heian-kyo) to around A.D. 1185. Commonly, from the perspective of art history, the term until around A.D. 894 (the year that the dispatch of the Japanese envoy to Tang-dynasty China was ended) is called the Heian period's former half, and the term after the year is called the Heian period's latter half (or the Fujiwara period). Especially from the perspective of sculpture art history, the Heian period's former half was occasionally called the Jogan period (or the Konin period), but it does not make sense to use these specific imperial eras' names (Jogan and Konin) as the symbol of the Heian period's former half, so today these names are not used so often.

In the Heian period's former half, Priest Kukai and Saicho went to Tang-dynasty China one after another, and they brought back Esoteric Buddhism into Japan. The Buddhist thought and culture, introduced by Kukai, Saicho, and others, had a great influence on Japanese art, so the Mandala of Esoteric Buddhism, and the full-blown Esoteric Buddhism statues, which could not be seen in the Nara period, were made in this period. Japanese culture had been always influenced by foreign culture - mainly by that of China and Korea - and Buddhism introduced from them greatly influenced the whole of Japanese culture. And the Heian period is no exception, but this period is deemed to have been the time that the accepted foreign culture became Japanized and the Japanese style was established in various fields of its culture. After the dispatch of the Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China was ended in the end of the ninth century, the Japanization of the culture advanced, so "kana" (syllables peculiar to Japan) based on Chinese characters was created, and kana helped the spread of "waka" (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and narrative literature exemplified by "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji). Such works of literature not only became the theme of paintings and works of calligraphy but also influenced greatly the design of handicrafts. And the Japanese style was established in every field of art and design, such as Buddhist statues, painting, calligraphy, and temple architecture. In the later Heian period, Priest Genshin (also called Eshin Sozu) wrote "Ojoyoshu" (The Essentials of Salvation), and this helped the spread of the faith in Jodo Sect (the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism). And 'Mappo-shiso' (the end-of-the-world belief) became rampant, which made people in those days believe that A.D. 1052 was the first year of 'Mappo' (Age of the Final Dharma) and that thereafter the Buddhist law taught by Shaka would be neglected. Therefore, wishing for their rebirth in Saiho Gokuraku Jodo (the West Pure Land, which refers to the Buddhist paradise), court nobles constructed Amida-do halls (temple halls that have an enshrined image of Amida Nyorai (Buddha of Limitless Light and Life)) and Jodo-Sect-style gardens in some places.

Heian period's former half (once called the Konin period, or the Jogan period)
Paintings
Ryokai Mandala (Mandalas of the two Realms): enshrined in To-ji Temple, and is called Den Shingon-in Mandala (the Mandalas attributed to Priest Kukai), or Saiin Mandala (the Mandalas stored in Sai-in (Miei-do Hall))
The painting of Fudo-Myoo (the Wrathful Lord): enshrined in Enjo-ji Temple, and commonly called Ki Fudo (Yellow-Colored Lord)
Sculptures
The wooden standing statue of Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha): enshrined in Jingo-ji Temple
The wooden seated statue of Yakushi Nyorai: enshrined in Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple
The statues in Kodo of To-ji Temple
The wooden seated statue of Nyoirin Kannon: enshrined in Kanshin-ji Temple
The wooden statues of Three Hachiman (Gods of Archery and War): enshrined in To-ji Temple
Architecture
Muroo-ji Temple's Five-storey Pagoda, and its Kondo

Heian period's latter half (also called the Fujiwara period)

Paintings
Buddhist paintings
The painting of Amida Nyorai accompanied by his heavenly retinue bodhisattvas and other heavenly beings: owned by Koyasan Yushi Hachiman-ko (the voluntary organization of temples on Mt. Koya, which worship Hachiman)
The painting of Fugen Bosatsu (Bodhisattva of Practice): owned by Tokyo National Museum
The painting of Fudo-Myoo and his two attendant boys: enshrined in Shoren-in Temple, and commonly called "Ao Fudo" (Blue-Colored Lord)
The painting of Fudo-Myoo and his two attendant boys: enshrined in Myoo-in temple on Mt. Koya, and commonly called "Aka Fudo" (Red-Colored Lord)
The painting of Five Forceful Bodhisattvas: owned by Koyasan Yushi Hachiman-ko
Emakimono (Illustrated handscrolls)
Genji Monogatari Emaki (The illustrated handscroll of the Tale of Genji): owned by the Tokugawa Art Museum and the Gotoh Art Museum
Choju-jinbutsu-giga (The illustrated handscrolls of frolicking animals and humans): owned by Kozan-ji Temple
Shigisan Engi-emaki (The illustrated handscroll of Legends of Mt. Shigi): owned by Chogosonshi-ji Temple
Bandainagon Ekotoba (The illustrated handscrolls about Conspiracy of Ote-mon gate): owned by Idemitsu Museum of Arts
Kokawadera Engi-emaki (The illustrated handscroll of Legends of Kokawa-dera Temple): owned by Kokawa-dera Temple, and deposited in Kyoto National Museum
Jigoku zoshi (The illustrated handscroll of the Hell): owned by Tokyo National Museum and Nara National Museum each
Decorative sutras
Heike-nokyo (the sutras dedicated by the Taira family): enshrined in Itsukushima-jinja Shrine
Senmen Hokkekyo Sasshi (Lotus Sutra Booklet on a Fan): owned by some institutions, including Shitenno-ji Temple and Tokyo National Museum
Sculptures
The seated statue of Amida Nyorai: enshrined in Hoo-do Hall (the Phoenix Pavilion) of Byodo-in Temple
The seated statue of Ichiji Kinrin (literally, the deity of One-Syllable Gold Wheel): enshrined in Chuson-ji Temple and 17 other temples
Handicrafts
Katawaguruma Raden Makie Tebako (Toiletry Case with Cart Wheels in Stream): owned by Tokyo National Museum
Architecture
Hoo-do Hall of Byodo-in Temple
Konjiki-do Hall (Golden Hall) of Chuson-ji Temple
Three-storey Pagoda of Ichijo-ji Temple
Gardens
Jodo-sect-style gardens
Byodo-in Temple Garden
Joruri-ji Temple Garden
Motsu-ji Temple Garden

Middle age
Kamakura period/Northern and Southern Courts period (Japan)

The Kamakura period is commonly thought to have begun in A.D. 1185, when the Taira family fell and MINAMOTO no Yoritomo dispatched Shugo and Jito (military governors and estate stewards) all over Japan. In A.D. 1180, Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple (the two Buddhist powerhouses in Nanto (the southern capital, which refers to Nara)), were burned down in Nanto Yakiuchi (Burning of Nanto) by TAIRA no Shigehira, and this was a symbolic incident in Japanese art history. Immediately after the incident, the reconstruction project was launched for the Great Buddha and its hall of Todai-ji Temple, and for the temple buildings and Buddhist statues of Kofuku-ji Temple. It was the priest Chogen who was appointed chief of the reconstruction of the Great Buddha and its hall, and Chogen (also called Shunjo-bo) once had been to Sung-dynasty China, so he newly applied Daibutsu-yo (the Buddhist architecture), which originated from Sung-dynasty China, to the hall. And in the reconstruction of statues in Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple, busshi (sculptors of Buddhist statues) from the Kei school (a school of sculptors at that time), such as Kokei, Unkei, and Kaikei, played a major role.

In the former half of the Kamakura period, the nominal rule of the cloistered emperor still continued in Kyoto, but Kamakura gradually replaced Kyoto as the center stage of Japanese politics and culture. The Taira clan adored the aristocratic culture, which is symbolized by the gorgeous Heike-nokyo, while the Minamoto clan, which replaced the Taira clan as the political power, was a genuine samurai family, so samurai gradually replaced court nobles as the major beneficiaries of art. In this period, the full-blown Zen sect of Buddhism was introduced into Japan by Eisai, Dogen, and other priests who went to Sung-dynasty China, and the sect gradually increased its influence in spite of the pressure from the old Buddhist powerhouses, such as Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei. In the 13th century, with Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto as the start, full-blown Zen temples (temples that belong to the Zen sect), such as Kencho-ji Temple and Enkaku-ji Temple, were constructed in Kamakura as well.

From the perspective of art history, the period of the Northern and Southern Courts is deemed the transitional period, so its art is commonly mentioned in the art of the Kamakura period. However, in the field of swords and arms, there obviously existed a style specific to this period, which is exemplified by the long Japanese sword - popular in this period - so that this period is commonly distinguished from the Kamakura period.

Paintings
Nise-e (Realistic portraits of courtiers and warriors)
Portraits that are supposed to be MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, TAIRA no Shigemori, and FUJIWARA no Mitsuyoshi: owned by Jingo-ji Temple
Emakimono
Kassen emaki (Illustrated handscroll of battles)
Heiji Monogatari Emaki (The illustrated handscroll of the Tale of Heiji): owned by Tokyo National Museum, Seikado Bunko Art Museum, and Boston Museum of Fine Arts each
Bungaku emaki (Illustrated handscroll of literature)
Satake version of the illustrated handscroll of thirty-six immortal poets: separately owned by some families
Shaji engi (Illustrated handscrolls of temples and shrines)
Kitano Tenjin Engi Emaki (The illustrated handscroll of the history of Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine): owned by Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine
Koso den-e (Illustrated biography of high rank priest)
Ippen Shonin Eden (The pictorial biography of the monk Ippen): shared between Kankiko-ji Temple and Shojoko-ji Temple
Suijaku-ga (Painting based on the theory of Buddhist and Shinto unity)
Sculptures
Kokei: The statue of Fukukenjaku Kannon enshrined in Nanen-do Hall of Kofuku-ji Temple
Unkei: The statue of Miroku Butsu, the statues of Muchaku and Seshin - these three are enshrined in Hokuen-do Hall of Kofuku-ji Temple - and the statue of Dainichi Nyorai (Cosmic Buddha) enshrined in Tahoto pagoda (the multi-treasure pagoda) of Enjo-ji Temple
Kaikei: The statue of Sogyo Hachiman (Hachiman in guise of a Buddhist priest): enshrined in Todai-ji Temple
Tankei: The statue of Senju Kannon (Thousand Armed Goddess of Mercy) enshrined in Renge O-in (also known as Sanjusangen-do Hall) of Myoho-in Temple
The statue of Kongo Rikishi (Benevolent Kings): placed at Nandai-mon gate (the Great South Gate) of Todai-ji Temple, and carved by Unkei, Kaikei, and others
Handicrafts
Ceramic ware
Lacquer work
Metal work
Architecture
Japanese-style
Daibutsu-yo (also called "Tenjiku-yo" (Indian-style))
Nandai-mon gate of Todai-ji Temple
Jodo-do Hall (The Pure Land Hall) of Jodo-ji Temple in Ono City
Zenshu-yo (Zen-sect-style) (also called 'Kara-yo' (Chinese-style))
The Buddha Hall of Kozan-ji Temple
Shaka-do Hall of Zenpuku-in Temple

Muromachi period

After the period of separation, the Northern and Southern Courts were at last unified in A.D. 1392, when Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA reigned over the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) as the third shogun, and the center stage of Japanese culture returned to Kyoto. On Kitayama (the Northern Hills) of Kyoto, Yoshimitsu constructed a villa, which was later called Rokuon-ji Temple (more commonly, Kinkaku-ji Temple), so the culture around then is occasionally called Kitayama culture after the location. The eighth shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA made light of his duty as a politician, and indulged in his hobbies, such as Japanese tea ceremony, calligraphy, and kara-mono (things imported from China), and ironically, he contributed to the advancement of the culture to a great extent. On Higashiyama (Mt. Higashi), he constructed a villa, which later came to be called Jisho-ji Temple (more commonly, Ginkaku-ji Temple), so the culture around then is occasionally called Higashiyama culture after the location. His villa on Higashiyama is the prototype of the Shoin-zukuri style (a traditional Japanese style of residential architecture that includes a 'tokonoma' (alcove in a traditional Japanese room where art or flowers are displayed)) which came later - in short, it is the origin of the traditional style of Japanese architecture. Successive shoguns of the Muromachi bakufu devoutly believed in and patronized the Zen sect of Buddhism, so Zen-sect-style temples were constructed one after another mainly in Kyoto, and these temples became the stage of various kinds of culture, such as landscape gardening, literature, and Japanese tea ceremony. And it was also in this period that Noh (the Japanese traditional dance-drama in mask) was perfected by Kanami and Zeami.

Paintings
Chinzo (Portrait of a Zen monk)
The portrait of Daito Kokushi (national Buddhist master Daito): enshrined in Daitoku-ji Temple
Suibokuga
Josetsu: "Hyotan-zu" (The painting of catching Japanese catfish with bottle gourd), which is Shigajiku (a hanging scroll with Chinese poetry)
Sesshu: 'Sansui-Chokan' (Long Scroll of Landscapes), 'Shuto-Sansui-zu' (Landscapes of Autumn and Winter), and 'Haboku-Sansui-zu' (Landscapes painted with splashed-ink technique)
Handicrafts
Ceramic ware

Kitayama culture
Construction
Rokuon-ji Temple (or Kinkaku-ji Temple)

Higashiyama culture
Architecture
Shoin-zukuri style
Jisho-ji Temple (or Ginkaku-ji Temple)
Gardens
Karesansui (Garden of hill-and-stream landscape without water): e.g. the rock garden of Ryoan-ji Temple

Early modern ages
Momoyama period

The Momoyama period refers to the period that ranged from when the Muromachi bakufu fell in A.D. 1573, to when the Tokugawa bakufu was established. From the perspective of art history, the Momoyama period is commonly deemed to have lasted until A.D. 1615, when the Toyotomi family fell. Lasting for less than half a century, the Momoyama period is noteworthy in art history, especially in the fields of painting and architecture. This period saw the development of castle architecture, so feudal lords constructed tenshukaku (the keep or tower) as the symbol of their power, and goten (the palace) was decorated with gorgeous shoheki-ga (paintings on walls, byobu (folding screen), and fusuma (sliding door)). Chanoyu (tea ceremony), which started in the Muromachi period, was perfected in this period by SEN no Rikyu, who transformed the tea ceremony fitting for Shoin-zukuri architecture into that fitting for a thatched hut, in other words, wabicha (the tea ceremony accompanied by wabi (an unique aesthetic sense that finds surpassing beauty and deep significance in what is humble or commonplace and appears natural or artless)).

Paintings
Kinpeki-shoheki-ga (Shoheki-ga using gold-foil-pressed paper)/Fuzoku-ga (Genre painting)
Kano school
Eitoku KANO: "Karajishi-zu byobu" (The huge folding screen of Chinese lions) in the custody of the Imperial Household Agency
Sanraku KANO: "Botan-zu" (The painting of peonies)
Tohaku HASEGAWA: "Shorin-zu byobu" (The folding screen of Pine Trees)
Naganobu KANO: "Kaka-Yuraku-zu" (Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms)
Hideyori KANO: "Takao Kanpu-zu byobu" (The folding screen of Viewing Maple Trees in Takao)
"Nanban byobu" (The folding screen of South European Visitors To Japan)
Architecture
Castle architecture
Himeji-jo Castle: the keep
Nijo-jo Castle: the Shoin-zukuri style architecture
Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple's Shoin-zukuri style architecture and Hiun-kaku Pavilion
Tea ceremony: perfected by SEN no Rikyu
Handicrafts
Chaki (Tea utensils)
Shino-jawan (Shino tea bowl)
Raku-jawan (Raku tea bowl)
Architecture
Joan (a teahouse in Aichi Prefecture)
Myoki-an Temple's teahouse

Edo period

Though it was in A.D. 1603 when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was appointed seii taishogun (literally, great general who subdues the barbarians), the boundary between the Momoyama period and the Edo period is commonly thought to have been in A.D. 1615, when the Toyotomi clan fell in Osaka no Eki (The Siege of Osaka) and the ruling system of the Edo bakufu was established. This period's art was so diversified as to be difficult to define its character in a word, but it could be said to become extremely popularized, compared with the art of the ancient and middle ages, which was mainly occupied with religious (Buddhist) art. In this period, the Japanese society was more or less stable because there was no big disturbance of war for more than two centuries, and the ordinary people's living standard was improved from that of the former periods. Therefore, the stratum of the art beneficiaries became wider, in other words, the rich merchant class entered the art community - almost occupied by temples, shrines, court nobles, and samurai until then - as a powerful patron. In addition, the spread of the mass production method of hanga (wood printing) gave birth to a new art, including ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints), which was within reach of the merchant. The center stages of the culture were Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka area) and Edo. When the Edo bakufu was founded, Edo was just a rural area, while Kamigata was the cultural front line, but before long, Edo began to attract artists, because Edo became the mecca of local talents in other fields as well. Local domains began to produce their own handicrafts, such as ceramic ware and lacquer works.

Kanei culture (in the early stage of the Edo period)
Paintings
Goyo-eshi (Purveying painter to the regime)
Kano school
Tanyu KANO: "Tanyu shukuzu" (reduced-size copies made by Tanyu) owned by Kyoto National Museum and others
Sansetsu NANO: "Settei-Suikin-zu" (Waterfowl by Snowy Shore) owned by Kyoto National Museum
Tosa school
Mitsuoki TOSA: "The folding screen of Thirty-six Immortal Poets"
Sumiyoshi school
Jokei SUMIYOSHI: "Tale of Genji Album"
Fuzoku-ga
Matabei IWASA: The maker of "the Portraits of Thirty-six Immortal Poets," and the founder of ukiyoe
Painting and artifact
Rin school
Koetsu HONAMI: "Funabashi Makie Suzuribako" (Writing Box with Pontoon Bridge) owned by Tokyo National Museum
Sotatsu TAWARAYA: "Fujin Raijin-zu byobu" (The folding screens of Wind God and Thunder God) owned by Kennin-ji Temple
Architecture
Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine
Katsura Imperial Villa
Chion-in Temple's San-mon Gate and Hon-do Hall (Main Hall)

Genroku culture (in the middle stage of the Edo period)
Paintings
Literati paintings
Nankai GION
Kien YANAGISAWA
Hyakusen SAKAKI
Hanga
Ukiyoe (Nishikie (Colored woodblock print))
Moronobu HISHIKAWA: "Looking Back Beauty"
Sculptures
Enku: "Sho-Kannon Bosatsu-zo" enshrined in Seiho-ji Temple
Paintings and artifacts
Rin school
Korin OGATA: "Kohakubai-zu byobu" (The Folding Screen of Red and White Plum Blossoms)
Hoitsu SAKAI: "Fuu-u Soka-zu" (Grasses and Flowers in the Wind and Rain)
Artifacts
Ninsei NONOMURA: The maker of iro-e toki (painted earthen vessel) called "Kyoyaki" (Kyoto-style ceramic art)
Kakiemon SAKAIDA: The maker of iro-e toki called "Aritayaki" (Arita-style ceramic art)
Architecture
Kon-do Hall of Todai-ji Temple

Kasei culture (in the later stage of the Edo period)

Paintings
Literati painting
Buson YOSA: "The painting of crows and a black kite," which falls under haiga (simple paintings that accompany and interact with the 17 syllable poetic verse called haiku)
IKE no Taiga: "Rokaku Sansui-zu byobu" (The folding screen with a painting of a palace and landscape)
Buncho TANI: "Koyo Tansho-zu" (The paintings of scenic spots, made during the break of his public service)
Kazan WATANABE: "Takami Senseki-zo" (Portrait of Senseki Takami)
Shohaku SOGA: "Kanzan Jittoku-zu" (The paintings of Kanzan and Jittoku)
Musashi MIYAMOTO: "Hotei Ken Tokei-zu" (Hotei Watching a Cockfight)
Shasei-ga (Realistic sketches of nature)
Okyo MARUYAMA: The maker of "Sessho-zu byobu" (The Folding Screen of Pine Trees in the Snow), and the founder of the Maruyama school
Goshun: The maker of "Hakubai-zu byobu" (The Folding Screen of White Plum Blossoms), and the founder of the Shijo school
Jakuchu ITO: "Gunkei-zu" (The painting of fowls)
Rosetsu NAGASAWA: "Ryuko-zu fusuma" (The Sliding Door of Dragon and Tiger)
Western-influenced works
Shadow method/perspective drawing technique
Kokan SHIBA: "Mimeguri Kei-zu" (Landscape of Mimeguri), in which the technique of etching was used
Gennai HIRAGA: "The painting of European Woman"
Hanga
Ukiyoe (Nishikie)
Harunobu SUZUKI: "Osen Chaya" (Osen Teahouse)
Utamaro KITAGAWA: "Fujin-zu" (Portrait of a Woman)
Sharaku TOSHUSAI: "Otani Oniji Ⅱ in the role of Yakko Edobe"
Hokusai KATSUSHIKA: "Fugaku Sanjurokkei" (Thirty-six Sceneries of Mt. Fuji)
Hiroshige UTAGAWA: "Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi" (53 stages on the Tokai-do Road)

Modern age
Meiji period
In the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, the shogunate and some domains put handicrafts and art works in international European exhibitions, and they were highly praised as excellent decorations, so that Japanese crafts attracted the attention of European people, and their export enabled Japanese to gain foreign currency. However, the clear distinction between arts and crafts seen in the West did not exist in Japan, so Japanese art, as a whole, was deemed too decorative and technical, and it was ranked a bit lower than European art. At that time, however, the prestige of academic paintings began to shake and the boundary between arts and crafts became obscure in the European art community, so Japanese art works greatly influenced European avant-gardists and gave birth to Japonisme.

And Japanese art was also shaken by the modernization and the drastic change of the Japanese society after the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese government hurried to build a façade of geijutsu (art and other artistic skills) that could match the European countries' geijutsu through the introduction of the Western-style fine arts, while the traditional Japanese paintings of various schools faced a crisis of existence because they were deemed old-fashioned. In addition, with haibutsu-kishaku (a movement to abolish Buddhism) and the downfall of daimyo family (feudal lord family) seen notably, the market of secondhand articles began to be filled with many excellent Japanese art works, and through the aggressive intermediary contracts by Tadamasa HAYASHI and other Japanese art dealers, they flew out to the West, never to return. The Japanese government introduced the Western-style paintings and other culture mainly because it wanted to learn architecture and city planning from the West, and the Technical Fine Arts School and others played a central role in learning, but the government itself was not familiar with the concept of geijutsu. But this westernization gave birth to many Western-style painters and sculptors in Japan.

After a while, the modernization of Japanese society reached a certain point, and instead, there occurred a movement in the opposite direction, such as nationalism and the pursuit of art unique to Japanese that has a nation-state of its own, so Japanese art attracted people's attention once again. The Japanese government asked Ernest Fenollosa, Tenshin OKAKURA and others to write a guide of Japanese art history, which should be attached to the art works shown at the international exhibition, so they finished writing the complete history of Japanese art in a short period of time. And this is the prototype of Japanese art history which we know today, but those artists who were deemed inappropriate to introduce to foreign countries were omitted from the list, and they came to be forgotten for a long time.

Later, Fenollosa, Tenshin and others began to emphasize the superiority of Japanese art, and after Tokyo University of Arts opened, Tenshin (the university's president) and his followers excluded Western-style paintings from the university, the graduates from the Technological Fine Arts School and their sympathizers stood against it through founding the Meiji Art Society. The Meiji Art Society, Western-style painters, and their sympathizers were thrown into confusion by the counterforce, but they were active in introducing the newest movement in European painting, which is exemplified by Tadamasa HAYASHI's introduction of impressionists, and by the exhibition of paintings of Seiki KURODA and others who returned from study abroad. After that, Tenshin and his followers were in turn purged from the university, so Tenshin established the Japan Art Institute with Taikan YOKOYAMA, Kanzan SHIMOMURA and others. And many Japanese-style painters, including Seiho TAKEUCHI (a member of the Kyoto painters' community), went to Europe to study, and after learning from various schools of Japanese-style paintings and from Western-style paintings, they renewed Japanese-style painting as a national art.

In 1907, the annual art exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education - for short, "Bunten" in Japanese - was held for the first time by the government as the first exhibition inviting applicants from the public, and major artists both young and old from every field of Japanese-style painting, Western-style painting, and sculpture, exhibited their works at the same time in the same place.

Ernest Fenollosa and Tenshin OKAKURA
Paintings
Japanese-style paintings
Hogai KANO: "Hibo Kannon" (Avalokitesvara as a Merciful Mother)
Gaho HASHIMOTO: "Hakuun Koju-zu" (the painting of white clouds and autumn leaves)/"Ryuko" (Dragon and Tiger)
Tessai TOMIOKA: "Buryo Togen" (The Earthly Paradise Found By a fisherman From Buryo)
Seiho TAKEUCHI: "Hanmyo" (Tabby Cat)
Taikan YOKOYAMA: "Kutsugen" (The Legendary Chinese Poet Qu Yuan)/"Seisei Ruten" (Metempsychosis)
Kanzan SHIMOMURA: "Ki no Aida no Aki" (Autumn among Trees)
Shunso HISHIDA: "Ochiba" (Fallen Leaves)
Western-style paintings
Yuichi TAKAHASHI: "Sake" (Salmon)
Chu ASAI: "Poplar-trees in Grez-Sur-Loing"
Seiki KURODA: "Kohan" (Lakeside)
Takeji FUJISHIMA
Shigeru AOKI: "Umi no Sachi" (Gifts of Sea)/"Wadatsumi no Iroko no Miya" (Paradise Under the Sea)
Saburosuke OKADA
Sculptures
Rokuzan OGIWARA: "Onna" (Woman)
Koun TAKAMURA: "Roen" (Old Monkey)

Taisho period
Paintings
Japanese-style paintings
Kagaku MURAKAMI: "Hidaka-gawa Kiyohime-zu" (Kiyohime Crossing the Hidaka River)
Shoen UEMURA: "Jo-no-mai" (The Introductory Dance)
Gyoshu HAYAMI: "Meiju-chiritsubaki" (Camellia Petals Scattering)
Bakusen TSUCHIDA: "Maiko Rinsen" (A Dancing Girl Named Rinsen)
Western-style paintings
Ryusei KISHIDA: "Reiko-zo" (Portrait of Reiko)
Narashige KOIDE: "The Family Portrait of N"
Heizo KANAYAMA: "Natsu no Naikai" (Inland Sea in Summer)
Ryuzaburo UMEHARA: "Kano-gawa" (The Kano River)
Sotaro YASUI: "Portrait of Chin-Jung"
Yuzo SAEKI: "Kokoku-bari" (Advertising)
Handicraft
Folk art
Keisuke SERIZAWA

New art movements in the Taisho period
Art in the 1920s

Present age
Showa period
Paintings
Japanese-style paintings
Dogyu OKUMURA: "Odoriko" (Dancer)
Insho DOMOTO: "Kariteimo" (the Indian deity hariti, a protector of children)/"Usagi Haruno ni Asobu" (Rabbits Play in a Spring Field)
Kaii HIGASHIYAMA: "Tosei " (Sound of Wave)/"Sanun" (Mountain Clouds)
Western-style paintings
Ryohei KOISO: "Seisho" (Singing in Unison)
Kanji MAETA: "Toryo no Kazoku" (The Family of the Boss)/"Umi" (Sea)
Takeshi HAYASHI: "Kushikezuru Onna" (Woman Combing)
Handicraft
Ceramic art
Kenkichi TOMIMOTO
Kanjiro KAWAI

Heisei period