NIJO Castle KANO Painting<br> - Matcha BowlNIJO Castle KANO Painting
- Matcha Bowl

NIJO Castle

NIJO Castle, built in 1603, is not only a Japanese national treasure but also a world heritage site. All of the 954 paintings on FUSUMA sliding doors and murals called SHOHEKIGA at NIJO Castle are designated as nationally important cultural properties. The SHOHEKIGA paintings are from the KANO school, which was the largest and most significant school in the history of Japanese painting. The KANO school flourished for about 400 years from the 15th century to 19th century, and was always at the center of the Japanese art world.

TENSYUKAKU castle tower and HONMARU castle keep were destroyed in the massive fire of 1788 in Kyoto. NINOMARU second castle keep, which miraculously survived the massive fire, was larger than HONMARU castle keep and assumed a more important role in the history. The audience of Iemitsu Tokugawa third SHOGUN Emperor with Gomizunoh TENNOH Emperor in 1634, and TAISEI HOHKAN, the last Tokugawa Shogun Emperor that returned political power to the TENNOH emperor in 1867, occurred at NINOMARU second castle keep.

NINOMARU second castle keep

NIJO Castle in Rakuchu Rakugaizu painting

Iemitsu Tokugawa third SHOGUN Emperor

OHIROMA great hall

TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall (west wing)

KUROSHOIN rooms

Restoration and preservation of nationally important cultural properties



SHOHEKIGA Paintings at NIJO Castle

As shown in the below picture, the theme of the NINOMARU second castle keep is the flying geese pattern. The 954 paintings of FUSUMA sliding doors and murals called SHOHEKIGA span entire halls and rooms from the entrance to the back. They were all painted by the KANO school. Visitors are astounded by the elegant paintings which are rich in detail and bold in character.

Most paintings are colorful and decorated with gold. All paintings are comprehensively and completely designed to stage each hall and room depending on different roles of each location.

OHIROMA great hall (*1), where the SHOGUN emperor had an audience with the DAIMYO vassal lords, is decorated with paintings that honored the SHOGUN emperor. When the DAIMYO vassal lords looked up to see the SHOGUN emperor, they felt as if the great pine tree arced above the SHOGUN emperor. And the lordly hawk keenly glowered down at the DAIMYO vassal lords. The paintings effectively convey the dignity of the SHOGUN emperor of the past. (Matsu Taka Zu)

KUROSHOIN rooms (*2), where the SHOGUN emperor carried out everyday tasks with his followers, are decorated with elegant and gentle paintings of birds, flowers, trees, and so on in order to create an atmosphere of abundant fertility. (Kikuzu)

SHIROSHOIN rooms (*3) located at the back, were the SHOGUN emperor's living and sleeping rooms, decorated with SUMI-E ink paintings in order to relax the mind and body. It is only the SHIROSHOIN rooms where SUMI-E ink paintings are featured, in contrast to the colorful paintings found in the reminder of the castle. (Seikozu)

SHIKIDAI rooms (*4) next to OHIROMA great hall, where the ROHJYU chief councilor met with the DAIMYO vassal lords and handled messages or presentation articles for the SHOGUN emperor, are decorated with majestic paintings hinting of the dignity of the OHIROMA great hall. And the anterooms of the ROHJYU chief councilor are decorated with affable, kindly, and elegant paintings to cultivate a feeling of warm hospitality. (Roganzu)

TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall (*5) had two different roles. The west wing's role was to welcome DAIMYO vassal lords and is decorated with strong, dynamic paintings in order to show the dignity of the SHOGUN emperor to DAIMYO vassal lords. (Chikurin Gunkozu) DAIMYO vassal lords should have felt awed to see paintings of the tiger pride at the great entrance hall. The east wing's role was to welcome imperial envoys of TENNOH emperor or court nobles and is decorated with elegant and gentle paintings of flowers or plants in order to create grace and decorous atmosphere that was preferred by royals and court nobles. (Aokaedezu, Budohzu) The pure and fresh atmosphere like this Aokaedezu or Budohzu should have been very suitable to welcome royals and court nobles.



Matsu Taka Zu Fusuma
at OHIROMA great hall


Seikozu Fusuma
at SHIROSHOIN rooms

Kikuzu Fusuma at KUROSHOIN rooms

Roganzu Fusuma
at SHIKIDAI rooms

Chikurin Gunkozu Fusuma
at TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall (west wing)

Aokaedezu Fusuma
at TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall (east wing)

Budohzu Fusuma
at TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall (east wing)
KANO school artisans:
In 1626, these paintings were produced by 11 artisans of the KANO schools with a focus on Tanyu KANO who directed this project. 8 artisans were blood relatives or affinities of KANO, 3 brothers (Tanyu, Naonobu, and Yasunobu), Naganobu (grand uncle of Tanyu), Jinnojho (uncle of Tanyu), Shinemon (cousin-in-law of Tanyu), Hayato, and Nobumasa (son-in-law of Tanyu). And 3 artisans were KANO school's disciples. These 11 artisans produced paintings with the help of numerous disciples. Unparalleled solidarity and technical strength of the KANO school brought a historically huge undertaking to a successful conclusion.

KANO School

The KANO school was the largest school and played the most significant role in Japanese painting history. The KANO school flourished for about 400 years from the 15th century to 19th century, and was always at the center of the Japanese art world. The KANO school always connected with the powers of each age, Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and generations of Tokugawa SHOGUN Emperor, and extensively engaged from paintings of FUSUMA sliding doors and murals called SHOHEKIGA at courts, castles and temples, to paintings on small objects like SENSU folding fans. The KANO school was a group of painters composed mainly of blood relatives and affinities, and flourished for about 400 years. It was a completely unique situation. There was no other group of painters quite like the KANO school at any other time throughout history in the world.
Masanobu KANO (1434 - 1530):
Masanobu KANO was the earliest ancestor and founder of the KANO school. His name appeared on Japanese painting history in 1463 when he produced mural paintings at Shohkokuji temple. He started undertaking the SHOGUN emperor's offers on a full scale after 1481 when he assumed the official position as the SHOGUN emperor's painter.
He seems to have been very adaptable and his works spanned a wide range from SUMI-E ink painting of SHOHEKIGA to Buddhist paintings and portraits. All of his works were very clear and easily-comprehensible by distinguished techniques and elucidatory delineation. The space composition was always ideal. These features were succeeded and passed on to the next generation, his son, Motonobu KANO, who inherited the directional property of the KANO school.

Shumo Shukuai Renzu (84 x 33cm, Japanese national treasure)

Shaka Sanzon Zoh (150 x 99cm, Kyoto Daitokuji Temple)
Eitoku KANO (1543 - 1590):
Eitoku KANO was not only the most representative painter of the KANO school along with Masanobu KANO and Tanyu KANO, but also one of the most honorable painters in Japanese painting history. He built the KANO style.
He devoted his life to creating paintings for Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and produced his SHOHEKIGA paintings at their castles, Azuchi castle (built in 1579, now-defunct), Jhurakudai Court (1587, now-defunct), and Nagoya castle (1583). It is said that all of them were built by collecting the wisdom and style of the period, and were extremely sumptuous. He was grandson of the second KANO, Nobumasa. There was an episode which in 1552 Nobumasa had an audience with the SHOGUN Emperor and brought his grandson Eitoku in tow, NOT his son. At that time Eitoku was just 10 years old. Eitoku showed talent from early childhood and his grandfather helped to cultivate this talent.
Dynamism, forcefulness, and eloquence can be seen in his works. Real scale or larger enormous trees, or Singh / KARASHISHI foo dogs were vividly and dynamically painted on his works (Hinoki Byohbu, Karajishizu Byohbu, Shiki Kachozu Fusuma). In contrast, delicateness and elaborateness were also seen in his works (Rakuchu Rakugai Zu).

Hinoki Byohbu (170 x 461cm, Japanese national treasure)
Real scale of more large enormous Japanese cypress tree is painted vividly and dynamically.

Karajishizu Byohbu (224 x 453cm)
Two Singh / KARASHISHI foo dogs walking among gold cloud look dynamic and intrepid. It is said that this painting’s dynamics and intrepidness express general atmosphere at the warring States period in the 16th century Japan.

Rakuchu Rakugai Zu (159 x 361cm)
Kyoto, MIYAKO capital city is painted delicately and elaborately. Kyoto looks gracious and energetic.

Zoom of Rakuchu Rakugai Zu
Tanyu KANO (1602 - 1672):
It is said that Tanyu KANO was the great ancestor who revived the KANO school. Tanyu KANO was the grandson of Eitoku KANO, the savant painter. He succeeded the previous 16th century's KANO style which was the vivid and dynamic style built by Eitoku KANO, and created a new style by using both thin and thick brush and SUMI ink, and by using white space efficiency. The new style, which was refreshing, smooth, and stylish, became the standard of Japanese painting for a few hundred years after that.

There was an episode where Tanyu KANO had an audience with the first and second Tokugawa SHOGUN Emperor, Ieyasu and Hidetada when he was 11 years old, and he painted in the presence of Hidetada Tokugawa when he was 13 years old. It was said that he was the second coming of the genius Eitoku KANO.
He devoted his life to generations of Tokugawa SHOGUN emperors at that age. He produced SHOHEKIGA paintings at their castles, NIJO Castle, Edo Castle, Nagoya castle, and dominant temples.

At the renovation of NIJO Castle in 1626, which was directed by Tanyu KANO and worked on by all members (11 artisans) of the KANO school at that time, enormous showpieces were produced. (more info; see above " SHOHEKIGA Paintings at NIJO Castle")

Settyu Baichiku Yukinzu Fusuma (191 x 135cm, Nagoya Castle)
This ancient plum tree has been painted very beautifully in the form of an isosceles triangle. Just a small bird is painted on the left side, and the sight line of the small bird and the edge of the branch are aligned. It admirably changes the large white space into a certain space having rich afterglow. It is typical of Tanyu Style.

ortrait of Tanyu KANO painted by Ryuei Momota, Important cultural property

Shiki Matsuzu Byohbu (Left side) (157 x 367cm, Kyoto Daitokuji Temple)
Four young to old Japanese pines and four seasons’ atmosphere are painted. Though this is a complex and heavy composition using gold flakes, cut gold flakes, and gold powder, this is finished refreshingly by exposing the aqueous stream at the center of the picture plane. This is the showpiece which was at the forefront of a new style of landscape painting.

Shiki Matsuzu Byohbu (Right side) (157 x 367cm, Kyoto Daitokuji Temple)

NIJO Castle KANO Matcha Bowls: Now Available!

This time, we introduce four Matcha Bowls from the series of Matcha Bowls featuring SHOHEKIGA paintings of NIJO Castle.
NIJO Castle is not only a Japanese national treasure but also a world heritage site listed in 1994. All of the 954 paintings on FUSUMA sliding doors and murals called SHOHEKIGA at NIJO Castle are designated as nationally important cultural properties. The SHOHEKIGA paintings are from the KANO school, which was the largest and most significant school in the history of Japanese painting.
We, Hibiki-an and Zenshoh Yamaoka, who is the leading expert of paintings derived from masterpieces in the middle ages, cooperated and arranged a series of Matcha Bowls featuring SHOHEKIGA paintings of NIJO Castle.
[NIJO Castle KANO] MATSU TAKA ZU (by Zenshoh Yamaoka): US$980.00 (Now Available)
MATSU TAKA ZU was painted for the OHIROMA great hall, where is decorated with paintings that honored the SHOGUN emperor. When the DAIMYO vassal lords looked up to see the SHOGUN emperor, they felt as if the great pine tree arced above the SHOGUN emperor...
[NIJO Castle KANO] KIKU ZU (by Zenshoh Yamaoka): US$925.00 (Now Available)
KIKU ZU was painted for the KUROSHOIN rooms, where the SHOGUN emperor carried out everyday tasks with his followers, are decorated with relaxing, elegant, and gentle paintings of birds, flowers, trees, and so on in order to create an atmosphere of abundant fertility...
[NIJO Castle KANO] CHIKURIN GUNKO ZU (by Zenshoh Yamaoka): US$925.00 (Now Available)
CHIKURIN GUNKO ZU was painted for the west wing of TOHZAMURAI great entrance hall, where is decorated with strong, dynamic paintings in order to show the dignity of the SHOGUN emperor to DAIMYO vassal lords. DAIMYO vassal lords should have felt awed to see paintings of the tiger pride...
[NIJO Castle KANO] ROGAN ZU (by Zenshoh Yamaoka): US$810.00 (Now Available)
ROGAN ZU was painted for the anterooms of the SHIKIDAI rooms, where are decorated with affable, kindly, and elegant paintings to cultivate a feeling of warm hospitality. This ROGAN ZU is popular because of the affable, kindly, and elegant atmosphere...