Taniguchi Aizan (谷口藹山)

Aizan TANIGUCHI (1816 - 1899) was a Japanese painter who lived during a period from the end of Edo period to the Meiji period.

He was born in Hokonoki Village, Niikawa County, Ecchu Province (present-day Tateyama-cho, Toyama Prefecture). While he was given the names Aizan and Osetsu Suiso as his go (byname), his actual name was Sadaji TANIGUCHI and his nickname was Shikan.

Aizan written as '藹山' in Japanese is often written incorrectly as '靄山.'
His pen name, 'Aizan,' was given by his master, Aigai (written as '靄厓' in Japanese) TAKAKU, and contained a meaning that a disciple would go beyond a master based on the proverb of Junshi (Xun Zi) that 'the scholar may be better than the master.'
Therefore, it was decided to write Aizan as '藹山' in Japanese using two Chinese characters of '藹' (referring to a wooded and abundant landscape) and '山' (referring to a mountain) instead of Chinese characters '靄' (referring to mist) and '厓' (referring to a cliff) which composed his master's pen name, 靄厓.


Aizan who had been fond of paintings from his childhood started studying under Buncho TANI soon after coming to Edo at the age of 18, and was given the name Bunsai. However, as he felt dissatisfied, he immediately became a disciple of Aigai TAKAKU, called himself Aizan, and stayed as a disciple until the age of 25. At the age of 26, he learned Confucianism from Shochiku SHINOZAKI in Osaka. While visiting Kyushu to study, he practiced paintings at Kangien of Tanso HIROSE in Oita, and received instructions on shoho (calligraphy) of Shikunshi (four plants with high virtue) and so on from Chen Yizhou (Chin Isshu), a Chinese painter of Qing Dynasty, in Nagasaki. At the age of 29, he became a disciple of Suo NUKINA in Kyoto. He remained in Kyoto, and decided to live in a house near Goo-jinja Shrine until the end of his days.

Although he specialized in Sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) and Kacho-ga (painting of flowers and birds), Aizan engaged in wall paintings at the Kyoto Imperial Palace with Gyokusen MOCHIZUKI and others when it was repaired in 1855. Around that time, he often made personal contacts with royalists including Takamori SAIGO, Toshimichi OKUBO and so on.

In 1869, he was invited to Shijuku Ritsumeikan (Ritsumeikan Private Academy) established by Kinmochi SAIONJI, as an instructor along with Tessai TOMIOKA, Seiitsu YAMANAKA and others. In 1880 when he was 64 years old, he became a professor of nanga (a school of painting originating in China) at Kyoto-fu Gagakko (Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting) (later, Kyoto City University of Arts). In the same period of time, Gyokusen MOCHIZUKI (Yamato-e painting (a traditional Japanese style painting of the late Heian and Kamakura periods dealing with Japanese themes)), Sanzo KOYAMA (Western paintings), Hyakunen SUZUKI (Suzuki school) and Bairei KONO (Shijo-ha school) taught at the same school as a professor. In 1896, he established the Nanga Association of Japan with Chokunyu TANOMURA, Tessai TOMIOKA and others. Since then, he has been respected as a patriarch of Kyoto art world.

He died in 1899. He died at the age of 84.