Higashiyama culture (東山文化)

Higashiyama culture is a term which refers to the culture in the middle of the Muromachi Period. It is said that it was created by fusing cultures of the samurai class, the nobility, and Zen priests around the Higashiyama mountain villa in Kyoto which was built by Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, the eighth shogun (1436-1490). The Ginkaku of the Jisho-ji Temple empitomizes Higashiyama culture.

After the Onin War (1467), it was the age of the civil war, but also the age when various arts such as Noh play, tea ceremony, the art of flower arrangement, a garden (landscape gardening), architecture, and renga (a linked poem) were in full bloom, and these arts gradually spread among common people creating many varieties of Japanese culture which have continued until now. In addition, since Kyoto (the capital) suffered from the fires of war and cultured persons and intellectuals escaped to stay with the local shugo daimyo (Japanese territorial lord), many cultures spread to the country as well. As opposed to the aristocratic and gorgeous Kitayama culture, it is regarded as a culture based on the aesthetic feeling which leads to mysterious profundity, wabi (a clear and silent taste found in simplicity) and quiet simplicity.

The Ginkaku of Jisho-ji Temple: formally the Kannonden of Jisho-ji Temple (the hall dedicated to the Kannon in Jisho-ji Temple)
Its first layer is built by Shoin-zukuri architecture (the shoin style of traditional Japanese residential architecture) in a style of housing and the second layer is built in the style of a Zen temple building of a Buddhist image (Karayo (Chinese style)).

Togudo in Jisho-ji Temple: Jibutsudo
A four-and-a-half-mat Japanese room (Dojinsai) is a study of Yoshimasa and is famous for as an example of architecture of early Shoin-zukuri. It can be said that it is the origin of the tea-ceremony room or an original form of Japanese style housing.

The garden belonging to a hojo building (a building (or a room) of about a 3 meters square) in Ryoan-ji Temple (there are various theories on its period of construction)
The garden at Daisen-in Temple in Daitoku-ji Temple

Masanobu KANO (1434-1530): the founder of the Kano School
He became a painter patronized by the shogunate (government) after Sotan OGURI.

Mitsunobu TOSA (date of birth and death unknown): the founder of the Tosa School. He became Kyutei Edokoro azukari (Head of the Courtly Office for Paintings). He fused Suiboku-ga (ink painting) and Yamatoe (Japanese traditional styles of painting since the Heian Era) together.

Sesshu (1420-1506): established Suiboku-ga in Japanese style
He was patronized by the Ouchi clan.

Industrial arts
Yujo GOTO (1440-1512): a metalworker. He served Yoshimasa and produced metal fittings for swords.

The Koami family: lacquer artisan
The Igarashi family: lacquer artisan

Performing arts
The tea ceremony
Juko MURATA (1422-1502): considered to have learned from Sojun IKKYU and served Yoshimasa. He added Zen to chanoyu (the tea ceremony) and is said to be the founder of the tea ceremony.

The art of flower arrangement
Kodo (the cult of incense-burning)


Rinzai sect
Jodoshinshu sect
Nichiren sect

Muromachi culture (the culture in the Muromachi Period)

In history the term 'Higashiyama Period' has been used since the beginning of Showa (Rinpu SASAKAWA, 'the culture in the Higashiyama era' in 1928, and so on) and the term, 'Higashiyama culture' was created in the sense of culture in the Higashiyama era. As opposed to this, the term, 'Kitayama culture' was also created later. It seems that this was because the situation in the Muromachi Period could be discussed outright since the Southern Court was considered to be legitimate at that time.

However, today it is said that both cultures are generally discussed together as 'Muromachi culture' according to the following reasons; when Higashiyama culture began and ended is not clear, there is criticism that the era of Yoshimochi and Yoshinori are ignored and both have many points in common such as the influence of the Zen sect and the fusion of the culture of the nobility and the culture of the samurai class.
(Reference: 'Nihon no Jidaishi (History of Ages of Japan) No.11 The age of revolts' edited by Masaharu EBARA, published by Yoshikawakobunkan in 2003)

[Original Japanese]