Top 5 Traditional Japanese Landscape Painting

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The oldest and the most valuable, as well as the most refined of the ancient paintings, are perhaps the traditional Japanese painting.

The landscape painting is not an exemption. This painting incorporates a wide array of genres and styles. It shouldn’t be surprising – that is typical of Japanese in general – it has a rich historical background.

The traditional Japanese landscape painting adapts the traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern influences from Chinese and Western influence, which started from the 16th Century.

Those paintings tell vivid stories that contain powerful and practical lessons for modern times. This article takes a brief look into a few of the most prominent among the paintings of those periods.

Traditional Japanese Landscape Painting

traditional japanese landscape painting

Below are some of the most famous Japanese painting and arts you’ve probably never seen or heard of:

1. Mural Painting of the Takamatsuzuka Tomb

mural painting of the takamatsuzuka tomb

These are Japanese paintings of both geometric and figural designs. These paintings date back to the era of Kofun and Asuka, which was around 300-700 AD. The mural paintings reflect certain narratives like Jakarta.

They also portray episodes that were reminders of the life of historical Shakyamuni, the Buddha. Besides, mural paintings also represent different minor deities. This reminds us of the Chinese arts of the period of Sui dynasty or around the late 16 Kingdoms period.

The famous Tamamushi Shrine is one of the mural paintings. The example given here is the image of the wall in the Takamatsuzuka Tomb. This is the painting style that evolved into Kara-e genre that was in vogue until the early Heian period around 700 AD.

2. Set of Sliding Doors of Plum Tree of the Early 17th Century

set of sliding doors of plum tree of the early 17th century

This is another traditional Japanese landscape painting dating back to the 17th Century. The period of this painting is recognized as the Yamato-e golden age.

The paintings were a reminder of the time when the Japanese discovered the sliding doors and folding screens. That was the mid-Heian period, an era when Confucianism and some other Chinese influences were at the peak.

The events of that period formed the inspiration for many of the paintings of the 17th Century. This painting of Set of Sliding Doors of Plum tree by KanōSanraku is one of such.

3. Siege of Sanjo Palace

siege of sanjo palace

The production of this painting was informed by an attempt to preserve the memories of what happened in Sanjo Palace towards the final part of the Heian period.

A lot had transpired at the beginning of the period in 794 AD up to the middle. There were new painting formats like Emakimono (long illustrated handscrolls). These and a few novels, historical works, and religious paintings show the popularity of the traditional landscape painting.

Quite a number of them took up history from different dimensions. They all summarize stories and keep their precious memoirs. The Siege of Sanjo Palace portrayed here is a famous example of such narrative and historical painting.

4. The Tale of Genji

the tale of genji

This is another painting of the Heian period of spanning 794 to 1185. Historians have long debated the meaning of specific terms like onna-e and otoko-e.

While the former refers to the women’s picture and style of painting, the latter refers to the men’s. Those argument debates are premised on the difference between the aesthetic preferences of each of gender.

Even if they’re still unclear, certain traditional Japanese landscape paintings been discovered exemplify which side could likely be correct. And the ink and wash painting of Tale of Genji can be a living example.

5. Splash Ink Landscape by Sesshū Tōyō

splash ink landscape by sesshū tōyō

Talking about splash ink landscape painting, Sesshū Tōyōwho, also known as Oda Tōyō, has become the most prominent traditional painter since the Japanese traditional landscape painting since 1431.

The paintings have come under the names of Tōyō, Unkoku, and Bikeisai around 1420 to 1506. Toyo was regarded as the master of ‘ink and wash’ painting since the middle of the Muromachi period.

A lot more are there to show the richness of Japanese traditional landscape painting. However, we decided to list these five just to inspire your creativity and curiosity.

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