Harada Naojiro (原田直次郎)

Naojiro HARADA (October 12, 1863 - December 26, 1899) was a Western-style painter. His father was Ichido HARADA, a military scientist, and his older brother was Toyokichi HARADA, a geological scientist. Naojiro took care of Kumao HARADA, who was a bereaved child of Toyokichi and would become secretary to Kinmochi SAIONJI, who was a Genro (elder statesman). Naojiro was also the model for Kose, the main character of "Utakata no ki" (A Sad Tale), a work of fiction by Ogai MORI.


Naojiro HARADA was born as the second son of Ichido HARADA, who was a Bansho-wage Goyo Shutsuyaku (government officer for the translation of foreign books), and his wife Ai at his mother's family home in Koishikawa in Edo. In the same year, his father accompanied Nagaoki IKEDA, who was appointed ambassador to Europe, and he remained there to study for four years. Naojiro received a foreign language education from an early age under the civilized father. In 1870, he entered the Osaka Kaisei Gakko (Kaisei School) to study French and, in 1873, he was admitted to the French Department of the Tokyo Gaikokugo Gakko (Tokyo School of Foreign Language [old education system]) in Kanda. In 1881, he graduated from the Tokyo School of Foreign Languages and in August married Sada OKUBO.

From the age of 11, he studied under Nariaki YAMAZAKI, a Western-style painter, and at the age of 20, he became a pupil of Yuichi TAKAHASHI, who was a leading Western-style painter at that time. In 1884, aged twenty-one, he went to Germany to study under Gabriel von Max, who was a painter and a friend of his brother Toyokichi HARADA, and registered himself as an auditing student at the Munich Academy (art school). During the privately funded study abroad, he learned the firmly realistic method of the German government-school faction. At the same time, he was influenced by the style of German romanticism, and also showed a strong interest in fin-de-siècle taste. In Munich, he established friendships with Ogai MORI, who was an overseas student sent by the Department of War, and with Julius Exter, who was an art student. In the summer of 1886, he lived together with Marie, who was working at the café on the first floor of Naojiro's boarding house, and went on a trip with her to do some sketching as well as to avoid the heat. In around October, he acted as a guide for Arata HAMAO, who was chief of the Bureau of Professional Education in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and who had been ordered to inspect the art scene during a visit to Europe.
On November 22, Naojiro left Munich, leaving pregnant Marie behind (Marie saw Naojiro off.)
He traveled via Switzerland and met Moritoshi NAGANUMA in Venice and Hisashi MATSUOKA in Rome, and he moved to Paris the following year. In Paris, Naojiro became an auditing student of Ecole des Beaux-Arts, though for a short period, and left France in May.

In July 1887, he went back to Tokyo. Japan, however, was in the midst of a movement to expel Western-style paintings. Following the foundation of Tokyo University of the Arts without a Western-style painting department in October (it opened in February 1889), Naojiro joined the nationalistic Ryuchi kai (Ryuchi party) in November, which was the base for Tenshin OKAKURA and Fenollosa. On November 19, Naojiro gave a lecture in a regular meeting of the Ryuchi kai held at Kazoku-kaikan, in which he criticized Fenollosa's painting improvement theory (Western-style painting expulsion theory) and the Kano school (the lecture is recorded in Issue thirty-one of "Ryuchi kai hokoku (Ryuchi party report)" as a 'Painting Improvement Theory'). He then continued to be a member of Ryuchi kai and the Japan Art Association, a reorganized group of Ryuchi kai, for a while and exhibited oil paintings in art exhibitions that were aimed to promote Japanese-style paintings. In 1888, he became a special member of 'Toyogakai' (oriental painting group) and introduced Western-style paintings in its house organs. Although such enlightenment activity in the Japanese art world was not rewarded and Naojiro was isolated as an outsider, he did not give up easily. In January 1889, one month before Tokyo Fine Arts School would start accepting students, Naojiro opened a private art school 'Shobikan' at his home art studio at 6 chome Hongo (for free). Until the school was closed in 1894, Naojiro taught students including Mango KOBAYASHI, Yoshihiko ITO, Eisaku WADA, Kokki MIYAKE, and Tojiro KINOSHITA.

Naojiro moved his base to a Western-style painting organization the 'Meiji Art Society,' and with his friends acted for the foundation of a Western-style painting department in the Tokyo Fine Arts School. In 1890, he exhibited historical paintings 'Kiryu Kannon' (Kannon Bodhisattva Riding the Dragon) and 'Portrait of Takachika MORI' in the only government-sponsored exhibition that accepted Western-style paintings, the Third Exhibition - History of Japanese Exhibitions.
Although the former large painting attracted attention, it did not win any awards (it was designated an important cultural property in 2007.)
The latter painting only won the Third Prize of Virtuosity. Harada was an examiner representing Western-style painters, but because Ryuichi KUKI, who was backing the expulsion of Western-style paintings, was the chief examiner, the examination results were unfavorable for Western-style paintings. In the same year, Masakazu TOYAMA, who was a literature professor at the University of Tokyo and a supporting member of the Meiji Art Society, pointed out as the biggest problem poor painting subjects and a lack of philosophy, whether it is a Japanese-style painting or a Western-style painting, and he criticized Naojiro's 'Kiryu Kannon' in particular. This pointing-out aroused a lot of opposition among others, Ogai severely criticized Toyama.

In around 1893, Naojiro became ill, increasingly having difficulties with walking, and eventually he painted while lying in bed. Meanwhile, the Japanese art world went through a significant change. In the Sixth Meiji Art Society Exhibition held in 1894, plein-air expressions of new members Seiki KURODA and Keiichiro KUME drew attention, and in the Seventh Exhibition the following year, many painters from the Tenshin Dojo, including Kuroda, exhibited paintings, contrasted against the dark styles of older members. The journalism at that time reported the contrast inflammatorily as a confrontation between the old faction and the new faction. In 1895, Naojiro exhibited a large historic painting 'Suson Zanja' in the Fourth National Industrial Exhibition. In 1897, he exhibited his last large painting 'Kaihin Fukei' (seashore scenery) in the Eighth Meiji Art Society Exhibition. According to Naojiro's disciple Tojiro KINOSHITA, this work was painted in bed only from memory. In September 1898, he moved to the Koyasu village in Kanagawa Prefecture to recuperate. On December 26 the following year, however, Naojiro died in the Second Clinic of Tokyo Imperial University. He died at the age of thirty-six. On December 28, Naojiro was laid to rest at Tenno-ji Temple, and the names of Ryuzo and Kumao HARADA were signed as his two sons.

Assessment of the Person by Ogai

According to Ogai, Naojiro did not become infected with European taste during his study there nor after he returned to Japan, but he was still loved by his friends and teachers in Germany, where he studied. He was loved mainly as a child of nature. He was also unattached and free from desires. At his private art school 'Shobikan,' he did not accept any fee. When the demand for Western-style paintings was at its lowest, he did not ask politicians nor business persons to let him draw their portraits; he even refused to be one of the three finalists in a selection by the Japanese Red Cross Society of a painter to draw a portrait of Empress Dowager Shoken (500 yen).

Ogai concluded "On Harada Naojiro" (December 1889) with the following paragraph. "A number of my friends happen to be married men with families." "Among the households that I've had the occasion to visit, Harada's struck me as being particularly warm and congenial." "When the Shobikan was still functioning as an art school, Harada occupied an older dwelling at the back of the premises." "(omitted)." "Here Harada, his wife, and their four children lived in cozy intimacy." "Whenever I happened by, the children would gather round with eager greetings and happily cling to me." "Harada's wife would always had a cheerful expression." "And when her husband became ill, she cared for him, with unflagging devotion, year after year." "I was especially impressed by the fact that before the move to Kanagawa, she spent an entire day in Koyasu, with the youngest child on her back, in search of a house." "In the final analysis, then, it strikes me that Harada Naojiro need not be considered a man of misfortune after all."


August 30, 1863: Naojiro was born as the second son of Ichido HARADA and his wife Ai at his mother's family house in Koishikawa in Edo.

June 1868: He moved to Okayama.

March 1869: He moved to Tokyo and lived in the mansion of Ikeda-ko (feudal lord Ikeda) in Asakusa.

March 1870: He moved to Osaka and entered the Osaka Kaisei Gakko to study French.

September 1873: Naojiro moved to Surugadai, Tokyo, and in October was admitted to the French Department of the Tokyo Gaikokugo Gakko (old education system).

Around 1874: Naojiro learned Western-style painting from Nariaki YAMAZAKI.

1881: Naojiro graduated from Tokyo Gaikokugo Gakko, and in August of the same year married Sada OKUBO.

1882: Naojiro studied Western-style paintings under Yuichi TAKAHASHI at Tenkai Gakusha.

February 1884: Naojiro went to Germany, leaving his wife and children behind, to study painting. Living in Munich, Naojiro studied under Gabriel von Max, who was a painter and a friend of Toyokichi HARADA, his older brother, and registered himself in the Munich Academy. Naojiro established a friendship with Julius Exter, who was a German art student.

March 25, 1886: Ogai MORI visited Naojiro's boarding house. August: Naojiro lived together with Marie and went on a sketching trip. Around October: He acted as a guide for Arata HAMAO, who was chief of the Bureau of Professional Education in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and who was inspecting the European art scene. November 22: Naojiro left Munich for France via Switzerland and Italy.

May 1887: Naojiro left Marseille, France, and arrived in Tokyo in July. October: Tokyo University of the Arts was founded without a Western-style painting department. November: Naojiro gave a lecture in Ryuchi kai, where he criticized Fenollosa.

1888: Naojiro became a special member of 'Toyogakai' and introduced Western-style painting in its house organs. He built an art studio in Hongo.

1889: Naojiro opened the private art school 'Shobikan' in his art studio in Hongo.

1890: He exhibited "Kiryu Kannon" in the Third Exhibition - History of Japanese Exhibitions.
He was put in charge of the covers and illustrations of the "Kokumin no tomo"(Companion for Nationals) magazine (he continued to be in charge.)

1891: He drew the cover and illustrations of the book containing Ogai MORI's 'Fumizukai' (The Courier).

1895: He exhibited 'Suson Zanja' in the Fourth National Industrial Exhibition. This work is said to have been made when he was sick in bed.

1897: He exhibited 'Kaihin Fukei' in the Eighth Meiji Art Society Exhibition.

September 1898: He moved to the Koyasu village in Kanagawa Prefecture to recuperate.

December 26, 1899: He died in the Clinic of Tokyo Imperial University.

November 28, 1909: A memorial exhibition was held at the Tokyo University of the Arts, commemorating the tenth anniversary of his death.

January 1910: The 'Harada Sensei Kinencho' (Memorial Book of Naojiro HARADA) was published.

2002: 'Kutsuya no Oyaji' (Shoemaker) was designated an important cultural property.

2007: 'Kiryu Kannon' was designated an important cultural property.