Section 4
Higashiyama Culture – Maki-e and Literary Designs

Higashiyama culture was named after the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, commonly called Higashiyama-dono (Lord Higashiyama), who built a retreat in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto and established a unique Zen Buddhist culture. In the mid 15th century during the Muromachi period (1392-1573), the lord and his circle became the center of what is known today as Higashiyama culture, in which a fusion of cultural elements from China and Japan was favored. This involved karamono (things Chinese) from the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties together with traditional wamono (things Japanese), while chanoyu (tea ceremony), Nō plays, and flower arrangements were integrated into the architectural style known as shoin-zukuri.
 The characteristics of Muromachi period maki-e lie in their literary designs that are connected with waka poems from such anthologies as Kokin wakashū and Senzai wakashū, as well as their commentaries and related tales. At the same time, there was a profusion of maki-e designs associated with Nō plays, which were probably appreciated in connection with their related Nō chants.
 This period is also characterized by the emergence of two families of maki-e craftsmen, the Kōami and Igarashi. The Kōami had been official maki-e artisans to the Muromachi shogunate for generations ever since Dōchō, the first maki-e master of the family who served the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. The Igarashi, along with the Kōami, were active in Kyoto at the beginning of early modern times. The descendants of the Igarashi served the Maeda family of Kaga (southern part of present-day Ishikawa prefecture) and laid the foundations for Kaga maki-e.
 During this period, the maki-e techniques of earlier times continued to be used while also becoming increasingly complicated, such as shishiai togidashi maki-e (high relief polished-out maki-e), which is a combination of togidashi maki-e (polished-out maki-e) and takamaki-e (high relief maki-e), as well as the greater use of kanagai (cut metal sheet), kirikane (cut metal foil), and metal studs.

  • Important Cultural Property
    Tale of Haizumi Picture Scrolls (Haizumi Monogatari Emaki)
    Nanbokuchō to Muromachi period, 14th - 15th century / The Tokugawa Art Museum, Aichi
    Volume 1: On View from April 15 to May 7Volume 2: On View from May 9 to 28
  • Important Cultural Property
    Writing Box with Mount Ogurayama in Maki-e
    Muromachi period, 15th century / Suntory Museum of Art, Tokyo
    On View from May 9 to 28
  • Important Art Object
    Writing Box with Waves and Plovers in Maki-e
    Muromachi period, 16th century / MOA Museum of Art, Shizuoka
    On View from May 9 to 28
  • Important Cultural Property
    Tebako Box with the Motif of Kikujidō (chrysanthemum boy) in Maki-e
    Muromachi period, 15th century / Nishiarai Daishi Sōjiji Temple, Tokyo
    On View from April 15 to May 7