The Rinpa School (琳派)

The Rinpa school refers to artists and craftsmen in the Edo period who used a similar style, including Sotatsu TAWARAYA and Korin OGATA.


Sotatsu TAWARAYA (the early Edo period)
Korin OGATA (1658 – 1716)
Hoitsu SAKAI (1761 – 1828), was also regarded as Edo Rinpa.

Korin was strongly influenced by Sotatsu while Hoitsu was deeply influenced by Korin. Pupils of other schools in the Edo period such as the Kano school and the Maruyama school learned painting technique directly from their teachers by copying their works. The Rinpa style, on the other hand, was inherited by people of various social standings living in different times and locations, which is a unique characteristic of this school. While the Rinpa school maintained its identity by deliberately choosing and following similar subjects, design and unique technique, artists added their own discoveries and interpretations to augment the existing style. The Rinpa school thus developed a new art which is not merely imitation or epigonism.


In the past, Korin OGATA, Kenzan OGATA and Hoitsu SAKAI who took over their style were regarded as a school, being referred to as the 'Korin school,' whereas, the Korin school, in addition to the artists such as Sotatsu TAWARAYA and Koetsu HONAMI, who were considered to be the predecessors of that school, were collectively known as the 'Sotatsu-Korin school.'
Today, it is more commonly referred to as the 'Rinpa school.'


The characteristics of the Rinpa school include the use of gold and silver leaves in the background, daring picture compositions, repetitions of stencil patterns and Tarashikomi technique (a technique that achieves shading through pooling successive layers of partially dried pigment). The subjects were predominantly flowering trees/shrubs and flowers, but there were some works including narrative pictures depicting people, birds and animals, landscapes and nature as well as a few Buddhist paintings.

The Influence of the Rinpa school

The Rinpa school has had a major impact on the Impressionist school in Europe as well as contemporary Japanese-style painting and design. Fujin Raijin zu (the Wind and Thunder Gods) has been painted by numerous artists that have often been compared against one another.

At the 'RIMPA' Exhibit held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in 2004, it was said that the 'Rinpa influence' was detected in the works of Gustav Klimt and Andy Warhol in addition to some Japanese-style paintings (by various artists including Shunso HISHIDA and Taikan YOKOYAMA) after the Meiji period.

With regard to architecture, the Rinpa school had influence on the Art Nouveau style in view of simplification of beauty.

[Original Japanese]