Nagao Uzan (長尾雨山)
Uzan NAGAO (October 18, 1864 - April 1, 1942) was a Japanese scholar of the Chinese classics, calligrapher, literati painter and Tenkoku artist (artist of seal engraving) of the Meiji period. He can be mentioned as one of those who developed and advanced Sinology, as well as Kunzan Kano and Konan NAITO.
His first name was 甲 and azana (Chinese courtesy name which was, historically, the name formerly given to adult Chinese men, used in place of their given name in formal situations; scholars and the literati of Japan adopted this custom of courtesy name) was 子生, and other than Uzan, he had pseudonyms such as Iwagakuri (石隠), Mumon Donin (无悶道人) and 睡道人, and Saishitsu-mei (斎室名) (alias named after the name of one's room) such as Mumon-shitsu (无悶室), 何遠楼, Shisai-do (思斎堂), Sosei-do (艸聖堂), etc. His common name was Shintaro. He was born in Takamatsu.
He was born in Takamatsu, Kagawa County (Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture) as the first son of Katsusada (Chikuran) NAGAO of Takamatsu Domain, Sanuki Province. In his childhood, he studied the Chinese classics under his father, and was found to have a natural poetic talent. In 1888, after graduating from Japanese classics studies, the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters University, he sympathized with Tenshin OKAKURA and made efforts to establish Tokyo Fine Arts School. He also cooperated in the launch of an art magazine 'Kokka' (currently still published by Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.) and also worked as its editor. In the meantime, he taught at Gakushuin (educational institution for children of Japanese aristocracy), Tokyo Fine Arts School and so on. At the former Fifth High School in Kumamoto, where Uzan worked from 1897, he became a colleague and good adviser of Soseki NATSUME, and they deepened their friendship through prose and poetry, etc. In 1899, he became a professor of Tokyo Higher Normal School, as well as an instructor at Tokyo Imperial University, Faculty of Letters University, and he resigned the work and moved to Shanghai City in 1902.
He was invited to be an editorial advisor at Commercial Press, which was the biggest publisher in China of the time, and was engaged in compilation of the first textbook for secondary education in China. He was well-versed in calligraphy, paintings and antiquities, and in 1912, he was appointed an audit commissioner at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, by the introduction of Tenshin OKAKURA, where he was also involved in selection of art works.
In 1913, when Changshuo WU became president of Seirei Insha, he joined it with Senro KAWAI,
He returned to Japan in 1914. Taking up a residence in Kyoto (Marutamachi-dori Agaru, Nishinotoin Street, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City), he lived a life absorbed in poetry, calligraphy and paintings as a literati, while continuing the study and learning as a scholar out of power. He widely communicated with top scholars and literatus of the time, such as Shuchang LI, Qing minister to Japan, Xiaoxu ZHENG, Qing secretary, Changshu WU, Zhenyu LUO, Konan NAITO, Naoki KANO, Tsuyoshi INUKAI, Taneomi SOEJIMA and so on. He was well-versed in poetry, calligraphy and paintings, and had educational background as a literati. His calligraphic works closely followed Hojo (a copybook printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy) and he was good at every calligraphic styles; however, he was especially excellent in Sosho (the fully cursive style of writing). Concerning Chinese poetry, he initially advocated 'Min no shichishi no kaze' (the styles of the seven leading literatus during the Ming Dynasty) like Seigai KOKUBU did, but he was subsequently influenced by Tang Poetry (poetry during the Tang Dynasty of China) and Sung Poetry (poetry during the Sung Dynasty of China), which led him to establish his unique poetry style. In paintings, he was good at ink-wash painting and skilled at appraisal of calligraphic works and paintings. Other than serving as a vice chairman of Heian Shodokai and a councilor of Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (Japan Art Association), he also joined Nihon Shodo Gakuin, The Nippon Nanga-in incorporated Association and so on.
In April, 1942, he died at his home in Kyoto. The age at death was 79.
In 1965, "Chugoku Shoga Hanashi" ("中国書画話"), which contained his lecture on Chinese calligraphic works and paintings, was published.
(Chikuma Sosho, Chikumashobo Ltd. The afterward was written by Kojiro YOSHIKAWA)