Toriyama Sekien (鳥山石燕)

Sekien TORIYAMA (real name: Toyofusa SANO) (1712 - September 22, 1788) was an ukiyoe artist who lived in the Edo period.

He learned drawing in the Kano School and also studied under the haikai poet Enshi TORYUSAI.

His career as a popular specter artist started with the trilogy called "Gazu Hyakki Yako" (The Illustrated Night Parade of One Hundred Demons) published in 1776. He then also published the trilogies called "Konjaku Gazu Zoku Hyakki" (Continued Illustrations of the Many Demons Past and Present), "Konjaku Hyakki Shui" (Ancient and Modern Gleanings of the Hundred Demons), and "Hyakki Tsurezure Bukuro" (One Hundred Bags in Idleness).

His specter drawings usually make people smile or see bizarreness instead of making them scared. He however included a large number of metaphors and hidden messages in his drawings, and many of them therefore showed Sekien's honest feelings when they were deciphered.

His drawings had a great influence on later generations, and there are many individuals who engage in creative activities, such as Shigeru MIZUKI and Natsuhiko KYOGOKU, who use work by Sekien as motifs.

It is possible to say that Sekien was the one that perfected Japanese specter art.

Among a large number of disciples, he developed painters and kibyoshi (illustrated fiction books with yellow covers) creators such as Utamaro KITAGAWA and Harumachi KOIKAWA.

[Original Japanese]