Kitaoji RosanjinRozanjin (北大路魯山人)

Rosanjin/Rozanjin KITAOJI (March 23, 1883 - December 21, 1959) was a Japanese artist. His real name was Fusajiro KITAOJI. He was born in Kamigamo, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture (present day Kitaku Ward Kyoto City).

He was multi-talented, being a Tenkoku artist (a maker of carved stone seals), a painter, a potter, a calligrapher, a lacquer artist, a cook and an epicure.

Brief Personal History

He was the second son of Tome and Kiyoaya KITAOJI, the priest of Kamigamo-jinja Shrine. When he was 6 years old, he was adopted by Takezo FUKUDA, a wood block carver of Takeya-machi. When he was 10 years old, he graduated from Umeya elementary school, and was apprenticed to Chisaka Wayakuya (Current:), a Japanese pharmacy located on the corner of Kyoto's Karasumaru-dori Avenue and Nijo-dori Street.

In 1903, he moved to Tokyo with the aim of becoming a calligrapher. The following year, he distinguished himself by winning first prize at the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition. From 1908, he travelled to the northern part of what is now the Republic of China to learn calligraphy and Tenkoku.

In 1910, after returning to Japan, he was invited to stay as a guest of the wealthy Toyokichi KAWAJI in Nagahama-city, providing him with an environment in which he could concentrate on calligraphy and Tenkoku. Here, under the pen name of Taikan FUKUDA, Rosanjin left numerous masterpieces, including Tenkoku pieces and paintings on the ceiling and the fusuma (sliding paper doors) in the House of Ando on the Hokkoku-kaido Route. Later, he was able to stay as a guest at the House of Shibata, which his hero, Seiho TAKEUCHI, often visited, and he asked Seiho if he could carve Seiho's Kanin (Signature Stamp). Seiho, who liked the Kanin, introduced Rosanjin to his students, such as Bakusen TSUCHIDA. This was the start of his association with the greats of the Japanese art world and his rise to fame.

In 1915 he stepped down as head of the Fukuoda family, passing responsibility to his eldest son and returning to his family name of Kitaoji. After that, he moved around as a guest of wealthy families, starting in Nagahama, then Kyoto and Kanazawa city, and this life style enriched his knowledge of gourmet food and dinnerware.
In 1921, he founded the members only restaurant, 'Bishoku Club (Gourmet's Club).'
As well as cooking and serving the food himself, he produced his own dinnerware and recipes. On March 20, 1925, he rented the Japanese restaurant 'Hoshioka Saryo' in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, which became 'Hoshigaoka Saryo' after the war in 1956.
In June 1963, The Tokyo Hilton Hotel (later the Capitol Tokyu Hotel) was opened on the site of 'Hoshigaoka Saryo.'
Even though he was renowned as an epicure, his opinion of French cuisine was low. While eating at a well known duck restaurant in France, he exclaimed that 'the sauce did not match the food' and used the Wasabi soy sauce he had brought with him. Yuzan KAIBARA, a character in the Manga comic "Oishinbo" who is said to be based on Rosanjin did the exact same thing in an episode.

After the war, he went through an unfortunate period, having to sell 'Hoshigaoka Saryo,' where the 'Bishoku Club' was based but, in 1954, the Rockefeller Foundation invited him to hold some exhibitions and lectures in Europe and America. The following year, 1955, he was appointed an Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure), although he declined the honor. In 1959, he died from cirrhosis of the liver, also known as distoma hepaticum, caused by the Chinese Liver Fluke parasite. Although there is a view that he contracted the Chinese Liver Fluke from eating his favorite mud snails, the mini mud snails that are the initial intermediary host are not eaten by people, and since the parasite usually enters the human body through the eating of raw Koi (the secondary intermediary host), it is presumed there was another source of infection.

[Original Japanese]