Noro Kaiseki (野呂介石)

Kaiseki NORO (March 1, 1747 - April 27, 1828) was a Japanese literati painter in the late Edo period. He served the Kishu Domain and has been called one of the three major Nanga painters along with Nankai GION and Gyokushu Kuwayama.

His initial name was Kyuitsu, but later he renamed Ryu or Ryunen and used these two names mixed together. His azana (courtesy name) was Shorei and his second names were Kaiseki as well as Hanseki, Juyuka, Choko, Konsai, Daigakushosha, and Daigoryu, and also Waibaikyo, Shihekisai, Shihekidoujin, and Yuzen-yaitsu in the last years. His common name was Yasuke, later he called himself Kyuichiro or Kizaemon.


Kaiseki was born as the third son of Kosho NORO, a town doctor of Minato Koya-machi near the Wakayama-jo Castle in Kishu Province. Around at ten years old, he started to learn Confucianism from Nagakata ITO (Rangu) who was Hanju (a Confusian scholar who work for a domain). He liked paintings such as ink paintings and tried to learn the Chinese drawing method, but failed, and at the age of fourteen he went up to Kyoto and learned drawing method of the Nagasaki School from Kakutei (Joko KAIGAN) of the Obakushu sect. He once returned to his homeland, but went up to Kyoto again and mastered the technique of nanga (a school of painting originating in China). He came and went between Kyoto and Wakayama and made it a daily routine to draw ten pieces of sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) every day for about ten years. When he was twenty-five, Gyokuran, the wife of Taiga visited Wakayama. He respected his master Taiga deeply, but permanently lost him when he was twenty-eight. Around that time, he looked up to Fukyu I, a trader and painter in the Qing dynasty, as his model and was influenced by him. He closely associated with Kenkado KIMURA in Osaka and Gyokushu KUWAYAMA in Kishu who was his senior, devoted himself to his painting and became famous. He married again when he was thirty-four and the bride was from the warrior class and seventeen years younger.

Kaiseki wanted to live in Kyoto through life, but returned to Kishu when he was forty-six ordered by the domain for serving. He served the domain by medical practice as kobushin (an organization of direct retainers of the shogun and feudal lords who obtain no more than 3000 koku) under kanjo bugyo (commissioner of finance), later he became dozankata (in charge of copper mine) and surveyed in various places of the territory. It seems that he was quite familiar with herbalism. It is recorded that he went to Edo twice and associated with Shibutsu OKUBO and Gozan KIKUCHI of Edo poetic circles in the last years. It is said that he also associated with Sanyo RAI, Kyohei RAI, Shochiku SHINOZAKI, Chikuden TANOMURA, Ohira MOTOORI, and others.

He was with an intense enjoyment that he could copy 'Ame Tsuchi Shakkyo zu' (painting of the world stone bridges) drawn by Huáng Gōngwàng possessed in Tonomine Senju-in of Yamato Province.

It is said that he went deep into mountains of Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha, Kumano-Hayatama-Taisha and Kumano-Nachi-Taisha) due to public service and stayed for a few dozen days to learn taste of sansui (landscape). He thought painting was not for other people, but for his own pleasure, and sought painting with shai (to express painter's spirit or target's nature) by thinking that true landscapes saved in his bosom would let his hand correspond naturally. He was good at drawing bamboo groves and sansui-zu and especially draw mountains in Kumano area, and a dozen of paintings of Nachi Waterfall are authenticated by now.

Kaiseki has been evaluated as soheki (a pair of matchless people) in the nanga (a school of painting originating in China) society along with Gyokushu KUWAYAMA who was one year older and respected by him like a brother. Moreover, he is also called 'sanseki' (three Seki's) with Chikuseki NAGAMACHI and Monk Aiseki.

He died at the age of 82. His posthumous Buddhist name was Shihekiinsetsu Okaiseki Koji. His gravestone is in Gonenji-Temple in Fukiage, Wakayama City.

Origin of his second names

His second name Shihekisai originated from the commemoration that a lord of the domain praised his painting of the Nachi-san Mountain and granted Ichigyomono of 'Sanshoku Shihekisai'.

His another second name Waibaikyo originated from that there was an old plum tree in the residence given in the second year of his serving.

His other second name Daigoryu originated from that he respected the nature of five human relations arranged in order in the Han dynasty. He was the third son, and the fifth child including two sisters.


Wakayama prefectural museum

Wakayama prefectural museum

(1824) Wakayama City Museum

'Gochukei Shii Sansui-zu' (painting of the landscape expressed the intention of Gochukei's poetry) (1809), Seikado Bunko Art Museum, one of the important arts

Kumano Sanbakuno zu' (painting of Kumano three waterfalls) (1812), Tanabe City Museum

'Saikan no San-yu zu Byobu' (painting of the three friends in winter drawn on a folding screen) (1820), Tanabe City Museum

'Kogyoku Fuyoho zu' (painting of Mt. Fuji stained red by the rising sun) (1821), Wakayama Scholarship Foundation

'Nachi Koriyama zu' (painting of Nachi Koriyama)

'Wakanoura zu' (painting of Wakanoura)