Kan Tenju (韓天寿)

Tenju KAN (male, 1727 - May 11, 1795) was a Japanese calligrapher in the middle of the Edo period. He was also good at painting and tenkoku (seal-engraving).

His main name was Aoki.
His name 天寿 (Tenju) was originally pronounced 'Takakazu.'
His azana (adult male's nickname) was 大年, his second names or aliases were Suishinsai and Sangaku-doja. Since he was a descendant of Yosho O (Prince Yosho) of Baekje, he used the family name KAN and referred to himself as Tenju KAN. His common name was Choshiro Nakagawa. He was from Ise Province.

Brief Biography

He was born in the Aoki family in Kyoto, but was adopted by the Nakagawa family, who owned money-exchange business in Ise Province. He succeeded the family business at the age of 33. The yago (the name of the store) was Tamaruya.

He first learned shoho (penmanship, calligraphy) of Chomei BUN under Useki MATSUSHITA. Around the age of 40, he studied under Nio (Xizhi WANG and Xianzhi WANG) and committed himself to studying calligraphy. At that time, the title of the book was well-known. Tenju is also known as a creator of copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy such as Sozenhi and Kohofukun, which was made by Tenju by carefully imitating the calligraphy. He also imitated sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting), and published "I Fukyu IKE no Taiga Sansui-ga Fu" in which he reduced the size and imitated the sansui-ga drawn by Fukyu I and IKE no Taiga. He painted literati painting style sansui-zu (a painting of the landscape), and was also good at tenkoku. It is said that he was able to use soko, a knife used to carve seals whose point is shaped like a hook.

He was close with IKE no Taiga and Fuyo KO. Since three of them climbed Mt. Fuji, Mt. Haku and Mt. Tate together, they call themselves as Sangaku-doja. Also, Shukuya AOKI was Tenju's cousin who became a disciple of IKE no Taiga through Tenju.

The Nakagawa family had a lot of book collections and he further continued to collect old copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy and 墨籍. However, copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy in Japan were poor quality and not good enough to look at, so he purchased those shipped from China regardless of the high price. When the next door neighbor had a fire, the first thing he protected was his collection of books. Due to his habit of collecting books, he struggled financially in his later years.

Buried in Seiko-ji Temple in Matsusaka City, Ise Province. His grave is also located in Tsumyo-ji Temple in Kyoto Higashiyama (Kyoto Prefecture). Died at the age of 69.