Ishikawa Jozan (石川丈山)

Former samurai Jozan ISHIKAWA (1583 – June 18, 1672) was a member of the literati in the early Edo period.
Kiemon-no-jo Shigeyuki ISHIKAWA
He assumed the sobriquet of 'Jozan' after serving in the siege of Osaka.

Leading poet (Chinese-style) in the early Edo period and practitioner of Confucianism, calligraphy, tea-ceremony and garden design. A publication in the end of Edo period, "Elegant Sayings about Sencha (Sencha kigen 煎茶綺言)" states that Jozan was a first generation leader of 'Sencha pedigree (Sencha Kakei),' and he is also called patriarch of Sencha.

His actual name was 'Shigeyuki' with he later changed it to 'Otsu (凹).'
He was commonly called 'Kaemon (嘉右衛門),' and his byname was Jozan. He also used a number of other pen names.

Brief History

Jozan was born in Izumi-go in Mikawa Province (present day Izumicho, Anjo City, Aichi Prefecture) into a samurai family that had served the Tokugawa clan (Matsudaira clan) for successive generations. Jozan was of an earnest in disposition and early on decided to search for success, since then he trained military art with his granduncle. In 1598 he became a valet of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA: earning Ieyasu's trust through loyal service. During the siege of Osaka, he took the role of spearhead and achieved a feat: capturing one of the enemy generals. However, according to the articles of war of the day, they were not allowed to compete to be the first rider in a charge, therefore instead of battle field honors he found himself under house arrest. It was at this point he gave up life as a samurai and entered Myoshin-ji Temple.

Encouraged by an acquaintance (Razan HAYASHI), around 1617 Jozan studied Confucianism under Seika FUJIWARA. Having gained a reputation for both his military and literary skills, Jozan received many offers from various places to serve as a samurai but had no intention to serve. However, in order to care for his sickly mother he served at the Asano family in Kishu province (present day Wakayama Prefecture) for several months. Also, he served the Hiroshima domain in Aki province (present day Hiroshima Prefecture) for approximately 13 years at the recommendation of Shigemune ITAKURA. With the death of Jozan's mother, he applied to retire but the request was not accepted. The next year he pushed through his retirement, headed for Kyoto and, near Shokoku-ji temple he built `Suichikudo` (lit. Hall of Dreaming Bamboo) where he commenced life as a recluse.

Moreover, four years later (in 1641) Jozan built a rudimentary hut he called 'Shisendo' (Poets Hall '詩仙堂') in Ichijo village (western slopes of Mt. Hiei) in the Northern part of Kyoto which would be his final abode. This structure mimicked the reclusive Choshoshi KINOSHITA's Laureate Hall (歌仙堂) in Eastern Kyoto where portraits of 36 Chinese historical eminent poets were drawn by Tanyu KANO and each 9 of the 36 portraits were hung on four walls of upstairs.
It is for that reason that the rudimentary hut came to be known by the name 'Shisendo' (Poets Hall '詩仙堂')
Along with an affinity for 'Sencha' green tea, it is said that Jozan was also a fine creator of gardens
The Shosei-en Garden (better known as 'Kikokutei') at Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple is said to bear the hallmarks of a Jozan ICHIKAWA garden.

Having embraced a life of austerity, Jozan spent more than 30 years immersed in the pursuit of learning and, passed away at age 90. It is also rumored that Jozan along with Koetsu HONAMI (based at Taka ga Mine) and Shojo SHOKADO (based at Hachiman), had all come the notice of the bakufu (shogunate) and maintained oversight of events in Kyoto.


Many of Jozan's Chinese style poems are calm and serene. Jozan's 'Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji)' poem (written in 4 lines with 7 kanji characters in each line) is often used for beginner recitalist's practice of Chinese style poems.

He was a proficient calligrapher in the reisho-tai (clerical script).

Jozan had a hand in creating gardens at Higashi-Hongan-ji Temple (Shosei-en Garden) and at Ikkyu-ji Temple (Shuonan Garden).

His writings include anthologies of poetry ("覆醤集"), narratives ("北山紀聞") and treatises ("詩法正義").

36 Eminent Poets

Jozan worked in cooporation with Razan HAYASHI on the selections. 2 poets were selected to demonstrate each characteristic and portraits hung in the building to reflect this selection.

[Original Japanese]