KAKU (Core) and KONKAN (Root) in Japanese art history

In the lineage of antiquity, medieval, early modern, and modern periods, Japanese painting and calligraphy have evolved, driven by development specific to each era's demand aligned with prevailing values.
Unlike continental cultures, Japan's island culture embodies an internal aspect characterized by unique "aesthetic sensibility" and "emotional expression."
Through the field of painting and calligraphy, which should represent the most significant "core" and "root" in the history of Japanese art, one can feel and rediscover the establishment involving religion, culture, demand, and reflection.

First period: Painting Materials

This exhibition is divided into five categories. Here, in First period, we showcase 12 works as painting materials. Besides enjoying the superficial aspects, one can delve into the materials, imagining the scenes and appreciating the depth of the works. This exploration and interpretation bring an added layer of interest to these materials.
Detailed View of Enoshima Konkiyama Sangu
Unknown Author
Mid to Late Edo Period
Color on Paper
Private Collection
68.5 x 103.0 cm

This work is believed to be the original of "Detailed View of Enoshima Konkiyama Sangu." It is colored with thickly applied mineral pigments, with outlines drawn in light ink. High-quality gold and red colors are used, with the sea depicted in shades of ultramarine.
The period of creation is estimated from the materials used to be the mid to late Edo period. Further research is needed to compare this with the contemporary "Detailed View of Enoshima Konkiyama Sangu" by Yoshida Rankou.
Holland Monkey Painting
Unknown Author
Color on Paper
Private Collection
27.5 x 114.0 cm

A meticulously painted monkey work from 1795.
Though Mori Sosen is famous for monkey paintings, this work rivals his in realism. It notably features detailed depictions of fur and limbs. Typically, Japanese monkeys are depicted with short tails, but this work, believed to be based on a foreign species, has a distinctively long tail, showcasing the artist's unique interpretation of a foreign monkey.
Hunting Natives triptych
Unknown Author
Date Unknown
Color on Paper
Private Collection
34.5 x 151.0 cm

Regarding this work, Yoshizo Fukushima (Senator) asked Kenchou Suematsu for his opinion, who suggested it might be an early oil painting. However, sculptor and Western-style painter Sadayuki Goto commented on its resemblance to Dutch-style painting but was unsure if it was European oil painting or an ancient work.
This work remains enigmatic, with unclear origin, style, subject, and the meaning of the numbers and letters depicted.
The figures include a central person with their back turned, a person holding a bow on the right, and a barefoot person with a bag on the left. The distinct differences in attire among the figures further add to the mystery of this intriguing piece.
Tea Town Scene
Unknown Author
Early Edo Period
Gold Leaf on Paper
Private Collection
30.5 x 56.5 cm

A genre painting from the early Edo period, depicting a tea house scene.
The size and composition suggest it might have been a small or medium folding screen.
Tea culture, deepened by Sen no Rikyu during the Middle Ages, became a significant social and political element.
This scene captures an early Edo period tea house, with a woman serving tea to a man who appears to be a samurai. This rare painting offers valuable insights into how tea culture was enjoyed by the common people during this period.
Mochi Making Scene
Unknown Author
Early to Mid Edo Period
Color on Paper
Private Collection
75.5 x 105.5 cm

A medium folding screen depicting a daily life scene from the early to mid-Edo period.
The scene shows men making mochi (rice cake), with women dividing the freshly made mochi.
The detailed depiction of steam rising from the mortar adds a dynamic element to the scene, suggesting a festive or end-of-year event.
Originally part of a pair of screens, the missing half leaves one curious about the full narrative of the original artwork.
Picture Album of Ainu Customs in Ezo
Kido Chikuseki
Dates Unknown
Color on Silk
Private Collection
140.0 x 30.0 cm

Kido Chikuseki is considered to be an artist from Hakodate, though some sources mention that he studied with Hirao Rosen and Mikami Sennen of the Tsugaru domain at the end of the Edo period.
As a central figure among Ainu artists using Chinese painting techniques, he remains a highly significant and valuable source of Ainu cultural representation.
Provisional Drawing of Cross Emblem Mary Print on Parchment
Unknown Author
17th-18th Century
Private Collection
48.0 x 63.3 cm

This copperplate print on parchment was found beneath the previously introduced "Hidden Christian Cross Emblem Dyeing Design."
It is thought to be a copperplate print on parchment imported to Japan in the 17th-18th centuries, depicting beautiful angels and the Virgin Mary.
It is a precious artifact of Hidden Christians, who probably offered prayers to this picture and lived in hiding.
Kachi-mushi: Horseman's Flag
Unknown Author
Late Edo Period
Private Collection
90.0 x 168.5 cm

This is a horseman’s flag passed down by the Matsue domain's chief retainer family in the late Edo period.
A horseman’s flag was used by military commanders to display their presence on the battlefield or at their headquarters.
This work, woven from high-quality silk with added gold foil and hand-colored details, is a splendid example of such a flag.
In samurai society, it was considered shameful for warriors to retreat or show their backs to the enemy, making motifs like the dragonfly, which cannot move backward, popular for their symbolic representation of steadfast resolve.
The top of this flag features the character "Kanau" (fulfillment), alongside the dragonfly (also called "kachi-mushi" or "victory insect"), symbolizing the warrior’s wish for victorious advance in battle. The accompanying bag notes it was made in the late Edo period, indicating its use during a time when military prowess was commemorated. This reflects the samurai's aspiration for honor and victory in life.
IHS Satin Colored Eucharist Emblem Banner
Unknown Author
Late 16th to Early 17th Century
Silk Satin
Private Collection
63.6 x 72.7 cm

This is the battle flag of Amakusa Shirou, one of the world’s three great sacred flags.
It was famously used during the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637.
The style of painting on lustrous, delicate satin with oil paints is similar to the battle flag of Amakusa Shirou. However, it differs in that Shirou's flag depicts angels in prayer, while this one shows angels beside St. Francis Xavier, who first preached in Japan.
The upper part of this banner has the old Portuguese inscription, "LOVVAD ○ SEIAOSACTISSIM ○ SACRAMENTO" (Praise the Blessed Sacrament), with a chalice, a cross-topped host, and the initials "INRI" (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews) in the center. While the content differs, the use of lustrous satin and the quality of the oil paints are common features.
It is believed to be either a prototype of Amakusa Shirou's battle flag or a flag used by the rebel army during the Shimabara Rebellion. It is highly likely to have been made around the same time or earlier, with further historical research needed to fully understand its provenance.