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Profiles of artists

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Nakabayashi Chikutou

1776-1853 Nakabayashi Chikutou was Born in Nagoya as a son of a obstetrician. He was the Nanga painter of the late Edo period who faithfully followed the traditional style of Chinese literati painting.

Toyota Dokutan

1840-1917 Toyota Dokutan was born under the name of Souzou, in what is present day Mizuho City in Gifu Prefecture. His art-name is Kougenshitsu. At the age of eight he joined the Toukou Temple in what is now Yamagata City, Gifu. At eighteen he travelled around Japan, studying under various Zen masters around the country. In 1878 he received his inka certification from Tankai Genshou at the Daisen Temple. Three years later he went to Mino Kokeisoudou with Tankai Genshou, and in 1885 he became a Zen meditation teacher. In 1896 he became the head of Zanzen Temple’s sect of Zen Buddhism, and became the abbot of Myoushin Temple in 1909.

Hashimoto Dokuzan

1869-1938 He became the 128th abbot of Shoukokuji school after a year of a master monk in Shoukokuji. He left there in 1927, began studying drawing under Tomioka Tessai.

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Miyazima Eishi

1857-1943 Eishi was born in Yonezawa, Yamagata pref. His given name was Yoshimi. When he was five years old, he and his family moved to Nihonbashi in Tokyo. He started studying under Katsu Kaishu at the age of eleven and studying Chinese poetry. He had been in Beijing for four years to be a pupil of Cho Ren Kei. In 1895 he became a lecturer of Tokyo Imperial University, current the University of Tokyo. At the same time he established Eiki-sha, current Zenrin-shoin. He received the Shiju Hosho , medal of honor with purple ribbon, in 1905. In 1917 he founded Issui-kai. In 1935 he was received in audience by Puyi the last Emperor of Manchukuo. But he refused the request that the Emperor asked him to be his teacher.

Daishin Gitou

1656-1730 Daishin Gitou was born in Kyoto in Edo era. He began to study under Tenrin Soukotsu at the age of 10. The 273rd abbot of Daitoku-ji temple.

Fugai Ekun

1568-1654 Fugai Ekun was born in Gunma Prefecture. He became a temple master at Seigan-ji after he studied at Chougen temple. He had lived in a rock cave of the Soga mountain and practiced Buddhism. He made his monks dig his grave and he died.

Nakabayashi Gochiku

1827-1913 He is one of the representative calligrapher in modern Japan. Gochiku was born in Saga.His given name was Takatsune.His other artist name is Kenkakushujin. He began to study under Yamauchi Kousetsu when he came to Tokyo at the age of nineteen. He had concentrated on the study of Chinese calligraphy under Hanson for four years in China since he was fifty-six years old. In 1891 he presented the copy of Wang Xizhi Text to the Emperor Meiji.

Hyakusetsu Genyou

1668-1749 His secular surname was Harada Genyou, Gou was Shakusetsu, Genchin. He had studied under Daizui Genki, and practiced Zen under Kousen Shouton with his teacher Daizui Genki and received a certification of enlightenment.Genyou was the founder of Houzou-ji temple of Kaiunzan. Also he was known as a good artist for drawing, the poetry and the tea ceremony.

Yamamoto Genpou

1866~1961 Yamamoto Genpou was born in Wakayama prefecture, abandoned and found at a hot spring inn, soon named Okamoto Yoshikichi by his adopted parents, Okamoto Zenzou and Tomie. At the age of twenty-two, he went on the Shikoku-henro without shoes - a pilgrimage route of eighty-eight Buddhist temples on the island of Shikoku, roughly a 1300 kilometers long journey - to pray for a disease affecting his vision to be cured. This pilgramage route is still one of the classic Japanese Buddhist pilgrimages today. In his seventh pilgrimage, a priest of Sekkei Temple, Taigen Osho, found him passed out from hungry on the path and helped bring him back to health. As a result, Taigen Osho led Yamamoto Genpou into the Buddhist priesthood. He was given the buddhist name Genpou. In 1903, after years of ascetic training in various temples across Japan, he took over Sekkei Temple when Taigen Osho passed away. Five years later, he resigned his post to a priest named Taigaku Osho and returned to his training journey, which took him to several more temples around the country. At the end of his career, he became the head priest of Myoushin Temple and also made efforts to restructure the Hanazono University which has connections to Myoushin Temple. In both the pre-war and post-war eras, he affected many Japanese politicians including Suzuki Kantarou, Yoshida Shigeru and Ikeda Hayato. One of the phrases in the Gyokuon-Housou has been considered to be his words. The Gyokuon-Housou was the radio broadcast in which the Japanese emperor, Hirohito, read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the Second World War, announcing to the Japanese people the surrender of Japan's military. Yamamoto Genpu is still a well-known Buddhist priest, and has been called the "Twentieth Century Hakuin" and is considered to be a supreme Zen priest.

Hibino Gohou

1901-1985 Gohou was born in Gifu. He began to study Kanji, calligraphic style of China, under his high school teacher, calligrapher Oono Hyakuren. After some years, he started studying Kana-the style of using Japanese syllabary characters by himself.The major prizes are Japan Art Academy Award, the special prize of the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition ,Bunkakorosha -person of Cultural Merits-and more. He is one of the greatest Kana calligrapher in Japanese modern era.

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Hakuin Ekaku

1685-1768 Hakuin Ekaku was born in Shizuoka.His given name was Ganjirou. He entered the priesthood when he was fourteen and at the age of twenty three, he experienced the true enlightenment. He became a monk who was considered the most important person for having revitalised Japanese Zen Buddhism.

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Nishida Kitarou

1870~1945 Nishida Kitarou was the most significant and influential Japanese philosopher of the twentieth-century. Kitarou was born in Kahoku in Ishikawa prefecture. At the age of 14, he left normal school half-way by the reason for his disease. In 1886, he had studied at a secondary school in Kanazawa where he gained a life-long friendship with fellow student D.T. Suzuki until he left school. In 1891 he entered Tokyo Imperial University for studying Kant, Hegel and Schopenhauer. The next year, he practiced Zen Buddhism at Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura. He became a teacher and got married to start his life in his country after graduation from university.nearly the same time, he started practicing Zen Buddhism at some temples in Kyoto. He was named Sunshin as a Buddhist name by Setsumon-roushi in Kanazawa Senshinan in 1901. He continued practicing. In 1907, his two of daughters died. He assumed the post of professor at Gakushuin in 1909, and an assistant professor at Kyoto Imperial University next year. In 1911, his "An Inquiry into the Good" was published. He became a professor at Kyoto Imperial University in 1913. His son, Ken was died in 1920, five years later his wife, Sumi died. He received the Order of Culture award in 1940. He completed“The Logic of Place and the Religious Worldview,”just two months before his death.

Nishiyama Kasan

1837~1917 Kasan was born in Ehime Prefecture. His given name was Masuji. Others were Gensetsu, Zengu, Zentetsu, Genko and more. The career of Zen as a monk started in 1849.And he was given the certification of Inka in 1873, became the eighteenth of abbot in Daihou-temple.

Sawaki Koudou

1880-1965 Sawaki Koudou lost his parents when he was a little child. He became a monk in Eiheiji, the one of the main temples of Soutou school. He entered the Buddhist priesthood under Master Sawaki Koho(kouhou) in Soushinji. He had never settled in the same temple for long time, but he changed his temple a lot, described ''Kodo the homeless'' or ''Master the locomotion''. He served some positions as a professor at the University of Komazawa, a superintendent of Soujiji. He was one of the remarkable priests of the Zen Buddhism in the Japanese modern ages.

Ito Meizui

1889-1948 Meizui was born in Wakayama. His name was Miyamoto Masaoto. He had been very good at calligraphy as he had some episodes of a his childhood which were that he acquired understanding of calligraphy of Wang Xizhi when he was only five years old and after a year, he had the honor of writing in front of Meiji Emperor then was given the name Meizui. He had been a Shosei, a student who is given room and board in exchange for performing domestic duties, in Ito Hirofumi. Therefor he named himself Ito Meizui.

Yamada Mumon

1866~1961 Mumon was born in present day Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. He also went by the art-name of Tsusendo. From Waseda Junior High school he continued on to Toyo University in 1919, and started practicing Zen meditation under Kawaguchi Eikai. Under priest Ono Daikei he became a Buddhist priest himself in 1921. In 1925 he graduated from Hanazono University and started training at Myoushin Temple. In 1929 he received inka, a type of high-level certification in Zen Buddhism, from Seki Seisetsu at the Tenryuu Temple. He also became the Dean of Hanazono University in 1949. He then became the head priest of Myoushin Temple's sub-temple, Reiunin Temple. Four years later he became a teacher of Zen meditation at Shofuku Temple's Zen Meditation Dojo in Kobe. At the age of 64, he became the head chairman of the Institute For Zen Studies in Kyoto within Hanazono University. Three years after becoming head chairman, he sat on the original planning committee for the first Zen-Christian Colloquium started by the Quakers. In 1978 Yamada Mumon was instated as the 24th abbot of Myoushin Temple and was given an honorary professorship at Hanazono University. He passed away at Reiunin Temple in 1988.

Nakahara Nantenbou

1839-1925 Toju Zenchu, often refered to as Nantenbo, was born in Nagasaki Prefecture to a samurai family (Shioda Toshibe and Kitako) under the Ogasawara Daimyo. He was given the art-name of Hakugankutsu later in his life. At the age of 7, his mother passed away causing him to realize the transience of life and wonder about the origins of life and death. Five years later, at the age of 12 he joined the monks at Yuko Temple. His belief was that one should throw out their own humanity and commit themselves to the Buddhist way. Starting when he was 18, he studied the Four Books and Five Classics of Confusianism, Chinese poetry, and other Buddhist texts for seven years. After reading an excerpt of the Rinzai Discourses (also known as the Record of Linji), he came to a sudden realization about his own training: no matter how many Buddhist theories are studied, one's heart will never realize real peace. There is no certainty in words so one must fervently study Zen meditation to realize true peace and enlightenment. At the age of 27, in 1865, he received his inka, high-level certification in Zen Buddhism, from Razan Genma at the Bairin Temple in Kyushu. Four years later Nantenbou became the head priest at the Taisei Temple in Yamaguchi Prefecture. From there, at the age of 46 (the year 1884) he was appointed head priest of Soukei Temple and there erected the Tokyo Hanazono Zen Meditiation Training Hall. It was here that he placed great emphasis on the collections of Buddhist writings known as The Gateless Gate. At the age of 53 he was again moved to a different temple as head priest, Zuigan Temple. Two years later, after hearing that Myoushin Temple (the head temple of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism) would start ranking temples in order of how much income they earn, Nantenbou went on a campaign to reform the sect. Convinced that many of the high-ranking priests (mainly those with inka certification) were either undertrained or fraudulent, Nantenbou proposed that all high-ranking priests much go through a set of standardized koan riddle tests to recertify themselves. This set of koan was to be called Soshoukenteihou. After discussing the matter with several Zen Masters of the time, Myoushin Temple decided to give in to Nantenbou’s proposal, but difficulty administering said koan riddles, the proposal was dropped. In 1902, Nantenbou was appointed to be head priest at Kaisei Temple, and received the ceremonial title of the 586th Exalted Master at Myoushin Temple six years later. While practicing Zen meditation with his followers in 1925, Nantenbou passed away while still deep in meditation. By his own account, Nantenbou wrote over 100,000 calligraphic Zen scrolls. To him, to truly understand Zen Buddhism, one must go back to the roots of the master (in his case Rinzai) to study and understand Zen from the master’s perspective, and make that perspective their own. Nantenbou’s plight to reform Zen Buddhism came at a time during the Meiji Restoration where Buddhism was growing weaker and weaker due to governmental campaigns to abolish Buddhism and set up what became known as State Shinoism.

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1787-1861 Ema Saikou was born in Gifu as the first chile of Ema Ransai who served as a doctor in Ogaki Domain.In 1795 Ransai came back from Edo and established his school. In 1799 - the age thirteen- Saikou began to study painting.In 1813 Rai Sanyou visited to her family and Saikou desided to be a Sanyou's pupil. It is said that at this time they loved each other but Ransai refused the marriage proposal to Saikou from Sanyou.In 1819 She started studying painting under Uragami Shunkin. A year later she founded Hakuousha with Yanagawa Seigan and Murase Toujou. In decade her stepmother, Sanyou and Ransai died. In 1846 she instituted Rekiginsha, Kousaisha two years later. In 1860 she received a Kimono as a reward from the feudal lord of Ogaki. She died the next year.

Oda Sessou

1901-1966 Oda Sessou was born in Tottori prefecture. His name as a monk was Souho. He started studing under Sugihara Shunsou. He entered Myoushin So-do Hall,which was for meditation and hung Shakujo on a hook on the wall, and succeeded to the teachings of Gotou Zuigan. He served as the chief preast of Kameoka CHourin-ji temple, Daijuin temple, the teaching master in Daitoku-ji temple, the 11st chief abbot of Daitoku school of Zinzai.

Morita Shiryu

1912-1998 Shiryu was born in Hyogo. His given name is Kiyoshi. In 1937 he began to study under Ueda Soukyu. In that year he was received the highest prize of the 2nd DainihonShoinTen.He started a magazine on calligraphy 'Bokubi' in 1951. After a year he established BokujinKai with Inoue Yuuichi and Eiguchi Sougen. He exhibited at MoMA, The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo,Carnegie Museum of Art,Bienal Internacional de Artes de São Paulo,Expo 67 in Montreal, Quebec and more.

Nakamura Sojun

1922-1983 Nakamura Sojun was born in Ehime prefecture. His name as a monk was Yuuzan. He started studying under Nishiyama Takudou in Yawatahama when he was nine years old. He succeeded to the teachings of Kondou Bunkou in Myoushin So-do Hall. He served as the chief priest of Souken-ji temple in Azuchi in 1961, gained the credentials of the training master in 1967, the 513rd chief abbot of Daitoku school of Zinzai.

Takashina Rousen

1876-1967 Rousen was from Fukuoka Prefecture. He started studying under Takashina Mokusen at his age of fifteen and Hioki Mokunen at twenty-five years old. He served as a professor in Soto university and the superintendent priest of Soto sect.


1758~1831 Ryoukan was born in Nigata as a first son of the headman in the village. His name was Eizou in his childhood. His studying Confucianism was started when he was thirteen. Once he worked for his family business, but suddenly he left home to study under Genjou Haryou who was the head of Koushou temple of Soutou sect. The name Ryoukan, Taigu was given there. He stayed in Entsuu temple in Okayama to study under Tainin Kokusen from his age twenty-two. After Kokusen was died, he left there to embark on the long pilgrimage. A lot of his poems were left everywhere he went.


1912-1995 Sesson was born in Hyougo. His given name was Takeo. The other art name was Rikkou. He had studied under Ueda Soukyu and founded KeiseiKai with him in Tokyo in 1940.His work won a special commendation in Nitten Exhibition in 1949. He left Nitten nevertheless he had served two years as a judge since 1954. He received the Mainichi Art Award in 1984.He had been a professor of Daito Bunka University. He was a great calligrapher representing avant‐garde after the second world war.

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1738~1808 Ugan was born in Nigata. He served many temples across Japan. He maintained a friendship with Ryokan.


1841~1917 Yuzen was born in Gifu. He started his life as a monk when he was twelve. He assumed the chief abbot of Myoshin-ji Temple.

Goto Zuigan

1879-1965 Gotou Zuigan was born in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture. Upon becoming a Buddhist priest he took the name of Zuigan Sougyoku. His art-name is Inryoken. He joined the Enjou Temple in Ogaki to become a monk. He studied at the former Tokyo Imperial University under Shaku Soukatsu. In 1914 he received Shaku Soukatsu approval to travel to Korea to build a branch of the Myoushin Temple in Seoul. In 1929 he returned to Enjou Temple, and two years later Myoushin Temple’s sub-temple, Toukaian, followed by being appointed the dean of Rinzai University in 1934. He was appointed the 615th Abbot of Myoushin Temple in 1946, and for four years starting in 1947 he acted as the 503rd Abbot of Daitoku Temple.

Omori Zenkai

1871-1947 Omori(OOmori) Zenkai was born in Fukui. He started studying under Omori Kunkai in Daiun-ji temple in Fukui. In 1896, He was graduated Soto university and continued studying the teachings of religions which were Kegon sect, Shinshu sect and Shingon sect at some universities. He became a professor at Soto university at the age of twenty nine. Four years later, he had been to U.S.A, Britain and Germany to study the comparative religion and the philosophy of religion for four years. He served as a professor of Komazawa university, a chief priest of jishou-ji temple in Yamanashi and eventually the 70th chief abbot of Eihei-ji temple.