Shijo school (四条派)

The Shijo school is a large group among those of the Japanese painting world. Around the Mid-Edo period, Goshun MATSUMURA founded it and Toyohiko OKAMOTO, Keibun MATSUMURA and others developed it to a force of the Kyoto painting circles, then Bunrin SHIOKAWA, Bairei KONO, Seiho TAKEUCHI, Suisho NISHIYAMA, Insho DOMOTO and others took over and it continues to this day.


The Shijo school started as a painter group founded by Goshun MATSUMURA.

At the beginning Goshun studied Haikai (amusing and playful waka) and literati painting (Nanga: a school of Chinese painting) under Buson YOSA. After that, he stayed in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture at one time and then went back to Kyoto to be a pupil of Okyo MARUYAMA, but Okyo refused the request and treat him as his best friend. Then Goshun studied the realism of Okyo under him and built the unique painting style.

Toyohiko OKAMOTO, a pupil of Goshun, and Keibun MATSUMURA, a younger brother and pupil of Goshun, and other pupils built their residences on the Shijo street and therefore they were called "Shijo school"

From that period, they started to visit the Imperial Court and on the other hand they had the support of people in Kyoto, which developed the Shijo school further.

Among the many pupils of Toyohiko and Keibun, Bunrin SHIOKAWA, a pupil of Toyohiko, showed unusual talent, so he became the successor of the Shijo school.

In the Meiji period and after, Bunrin adopted the techniques of Western paintings, which changed the painting style of the Shijo school. He taught Bairei KONO the techniques who became the successor of Bunrin. Bairei KONO was more of a teacher than a painter and trained a lot of pupils such as Seiho TAKEUCHI and Hobun KIKUCHI.

In the Meji period, Seiho TAKEUCHI succeeded the Shijo school practically. He adopted the technique of realism from the Kano school and Western paintings willingly and changed the painting style of the Shijo school again.

After that time, a lot of pupils started to work actively and individually like Shoen UEMURA, Suisho NISHIYAMA and others like Goun NISHIMURA, Bakusen TSUCHIDA, Chikkyo ONO, Yoson IKEDA.

Then, Insho DOMOTO, Shoko UEMURA, Daizaburo NAKMURA and others played active roles and the Shijo school continued up to the present.

The earliest days (Edo period)

As already written in the summary above, the Shijo school is derived from the Maruyama school, but it doesn't mean that Goshun MATSUMURA conflicted with Okyo MARUYAMA. He rather took the realism of Okyo in his own style and developed it uniquely on the basis of literati painting (Nanga) learned from Buson and built up the Shijo school. In other words, the Shijo school is one of the developed styles of the Maruyama school.

Goshun was so efficient that he built up his own painting style easily. A lot of people came to him to be his pupils and to learn the style. The leading people are Keibun MATSUMURA, his younger brother, Toyohiko OKAMOTO from Mizue Village in Bicchu Province, Gito SHIBATA from Bizen Province, Kaisen ODA from Akamagaseki in Nagato Province.

The pupils of Goshun improved together through friendly rivalry. Among them, Toyohiko and Keibun especially stood out; people often said "the birds and flowers of Keibun or the landscapes of Toyohiko".

Keibun and Toyohiko also accepted a lot of pupils: Keibun's pupils include Hoen NISHIYAMA, Gyokuho HASEGAWA and Seiki YOKOYAMA, and Toyohiko's pupils include Bunrin SHIOKAWA, Sukehiko OKAMOTO, Zeshin SHIBATA and Nikka TANAKA. They both had a large number of people of the school, but Toyohiko succeeded the Shijo school.

Toyohiko was associated with the Arisugawa no miya imperial family and used to visit the Imperial Court, and his works remain in Shugakuin Imperial Villa. In addition, Sukehiko OKOMOTO, a pupil and adopted son of Toyohiko, was requested fusuma (a thick papered sliding door for partitioning rooms in a Japanese house) paintings when the Kyoto Imperial Palace was rebuilt in 1855.

Among those pupils of Toyohiko, especially Bunrin SHIOKAWA showed the talent. He was so talented that Goshun praised him when he was a child. Bunrin also drew a portrait of Toyohiko. It may have been natural that Bunrin succeeded the Shijo school.

The developing period (Meiji and Taisho period)

Because Bunrin SHIOKAWA adopted the techniques of Western paintings willingly, the painting style of the Shijo school changed in the Meiji period. He broke the traditional style of composition and coloring, adopted watercolor techniques and expressed colors which had never seen in the traditional Japanese paintings in a landscape-oriented picture. In that sense, Bunrin was a pioneer of the times.

Bunrin also accepted a lot of pupils and among them Bairei KONO became the successor. The painting style of Bairei had no striking features, but he followed the style created by Bunrin faithfully and also had an ability in a wide variety of painting styles.

But Bairei showed himself at his best in the field of education. He proposed the governor of Kyoto Prefecture to establish Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting (future Kyoto City University of Arts) and taught there. He also trained a lot of pupils in his own private school. Among them there were so called "the big four of Bairei" including Seiho TAKEUCHI, Hobun KIKUCHI, Kako TSUJI, Kokyo TANIGUCHI and also Shoen UEMURA who studied under Seiho after the death of Bairei. On his educational policy, Bairei first trained them in the basics thoroughly and then set them free, so they were afraid of Bairei first, but actually he took care of them well and always tried to cheer them up.

After Bairei died, among "the big four of Bairei" Seiho TAKEUCHI showed the talent especially, and after graduated from Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting he became famous as a leader of young painters in Kyoto. He was selected as a "Teishitsu Gigeiin" (selected artist by Imperial Household Ministry) and won the first Order of Culture and became the top of Kyoto painting circles both in name and reality.

After that the pupils of Seiho and Hobun KIKUCHI played active roles of their own.

Famous people among them are Shoen UEMURA, Suisho NISHIYAMA and others like Goun NISHIMURA, Bakusen TSUCHIDA, Chikkyo ONO, Yoson IKEDA, Kokyo TANIGUCHI, Kansetsu HASHIMOTO, Keigetsu KIKUCHI.

The stabilized period (Showa and Heisei period)

In the Showa period, because of the threat of war Seiho sometimes cooperated with the military.

But after the war, Insho DOMOTO and Shoko Uemura who both won Order of Culture and others like Daizaburo NAKAMURA and Tekison UDA played active roles, and their pupils are active now.

[Original Japanese]