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Stephen Addiss

[Hyakudō, Kohaku]

(b Taniguchi, Mino Prov. [now Gifu Prefect.], 1750; d Shōfukuji, Fukuoka Prefect., 1838).

Japanese Zen monk, painter and calligrapher. Of later Japanese artists in the Zenga (‘Zen painting’; see Japan §VI 4., (vii)) tradition, he is perhaps the best-known in the Western world.

Born to a farming family, he became a monk at the age of ten at Seitaiji in Mino Province and at 19 began studies with the outstanding Zen teacher Gessen Zenne (1701–81) at the Tokian in Nagata (near Kamakura), continuing until the latter’s death. Sengai reached enlightenment by meditating on the kōan (Zen conundrum) ‘Why did Bodhidharma [Jap. Daruma; the first Zen patriarch] come from the west?’, and then went on a pilgrimage from one Zen master (angya) to another throughout central Japan. He settled for a time in Mino, but was forced to leave after speaking out against the ruling daimyo’s policies, which he felt oppressed the farmers.

In 1788 Sengai accepted an invitation from Taishitsu, another of Gessen’s students, to travel to Kyushu, where he soon became abbot of the Rinzai-sect temple–monastery Shōfukuji, the oldest Zen monastery in Japan. He succeeded in renovating this temple, and his strict Zen practice and kind heart made him well known and loved throughout Japan and the subject of many legends. He retained the post of abbot until ...

Article

Japanese, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 1737; died 1812.

Painter.

Gyokuzan was a painter from Osaka. He was promoted to the rank of hokkyo, a title meaning ‘bridge of Buddhist law’ initially given to Buddhist monks but later becoming an honorific given to other worthy members of society, such as artists. He illustrated many historical narratives, notably the ...

Article

Patricia Fister

[ Yokoi Myōdō ; Kōmori Dōjin ]

(b Kasanui, Ōmi Prov. [now Kusatsu, Shiga Prefect.], 1761; d Kasanui, 1832).

Japanese priest and painter . The first half of his life is recorded in his autobiography. At the age of nine he became a Buddhist monk at the Jōdo (Pure Land) sect temple Sōkinji in Osaka. He left at the age of seventeen and went to Edo (now Tokyo), where he was admitted into the Jōdo temple Zōjōji in Shiba. Expelled later for frequenting the pleasure districts, he spent some years travelling. He returned to the Kyoto area and resumed his studies, later accepting a position as head priest at Gokurakuji on Mt Kinkoku, in northern Kyoto, from which he took his artist’s name. In 1788 Gokurakuji was destroyed by fire, prompting Kinkoku to become an itinerant preacher and painter. He travelled as far as Nagasaki, staying at Jōdo temples and painting Buddhist deities and scenes from the life of Hōnen (1133–1212), the sect’s founder. These are executed in a rather folksy version of the ...

Article

Donald F. McCallum

[Mokujiki Gogyō; Mokujiki Gyōdō; Mokujiki Meiman]

(b Marubatake, Kai Province [now Yamashi Prefecture], 1718; d 1810).

Japanese sculptor and Buddhist monk. He was an ascetic priest of the Shingon sect (see Buddhism §III 10.) during the Edo period (1600–1868) and apparently functioned as an itinerant monk (hijiri) in early adulthood. At the age of 45 he took vows as a ‘wood-eater’ (mokujiki), one who abstained not only from meat, fish and fowl but also from grains, eating only nuts, roots and berries. In 1773, after taking an additional vow to travel throughout Japan, he embarked on a programme of missionary activity that took him from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. Mokujiki was already in his early 60s when he began sculpting devotional images for the communities he visited, apparently following the example of his predecessor Enkū. Interestingly, he avoided localities where Enkū had made images. Mokujiki enjoyed excellent health and continued to produce sculptures until he was over 90 years old....

Article

Ryōkan  

Cecil H. Uyehara

(b Echigo Prov. [now Niigata Prefect.], 1758; d 1831).

Japanese Zen monk, calligrapher and poet. He became a monk at the age of 18 at the temple Kōshōji, Okayama Prefecture, but, being a wanderer for most of his life, never attained high monastic rank. He is known for his poetry in Japanese and Chinese and his individualistic, indeed idiosyncratic, swiftly brushed style of calligraphy and is one of the most respected calligraphers of the late Edo period, receiving more attention and study than his contemporaries Maki Ryōko and Ichikawa Beian. His modern popularity has given rise to an increasing number of Ryōkan forgeries. Most of his extant calligraphies consist of letters and poems in his own hand, much of the subject-matter deriving from his everyday experiences, as for example the letter brushed in ink on paper between 1806 and 1810 (Tokyo, N. Mus.). Ryōkan studied the 100-character text by the Chinese calligrapher Huaisu, the calligraphy of the legendary 4th-century ...

Article

Wu Zi  

Chinese, 18th – 19th century, male.

Born 1755, in Quanjiao (Anhui); died 1821.

Painter.

Wu Zi painted Buddhist and Taoist figures in the style of Wu Daozi and Wang Guang.