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Hello Everybody!!
We are Anindya & Pratyay, Japanese Language teachers and translators. Presently we are teaching at a Japanese Language Learning Centre in our hometown, Kolkata-India.

The most interesting part of language learning is experiencing another culture. For, Language does not exist apart from culture, that is, the socially inherited assemblage of practices and beliefs that determines the texture of our life. The study of Japanese language offers unique insights into Japan’s fascinating national culture, which boasts a rich heritage in the fields of native craftsmanship, performance art, visual art, music, film and graphic design. Anyone who can see and feel the beauty of the Japanese Language and culture can improve her/his cultural understanding and international awareness. It also helps one to gain an enhanced perspective of one’s own language and culture.

Through this Blog we would like to offer and share our knowledge and exchange our views & ideas with you all on Japanese language and culture. Let’s expand our possibilities both professionally and personally by learning Japanese.

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please feel free to contact us.....
letter2anindya@gmail.com or pratyajayaditya@gmail.com

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sugimoto Tetsurou

杉本哲郎
Sugimoto Tetsurou

 

 Nihonga painter Sugimoto Tetsurou was born in Ôtsu city, Shiga prefecture on 25th May, 1899. He had his first lessons of painting from local painter Yamada Suikoku. He joined the private art school, “SanaeKai” in 1913, established by Yamamoto Shunkyo and also entered Kyoto Municipal Arts and Crafts School in the same year. Later in 1914 he enrolled into Kyoto Municipal Painting School and graduated from there in 1920.

 

Sugimoto's painting "Oumi Fuji" was accepted for the first time for 4th Teiten Exhibition (the Imperial Academy's art exhibition) in 1922. Thereafter, he set his mind to study ancient oriental art and traveled to Korea, Manchu, China in 1923. Later in 1935, he started learning Buddhist art under Takakusu Junjirou and Matsumoto Bunzaburo.

 

He was selected by the Department of cultural affairs, Ministry of foreign affairs for copying Ajanta cave frescoes and went to India in 1937. Next year went to Ceylon to make copy of the rock frescos of Sigiriya. In 1940, He went to Mongolia as a researcher of historic remains of Manchuria and copied the frescoes of the Qianling Mausoleum located at the foot of Erling Mountain.

In 1943, Sugimoto traveled to India, Khmer (Cambodia), Thailand, Sumatra, Java etc. as part of an inquiry committee set up by Higashi Honganji temple to make a survey on southern Buddhist art. He came to India in 1951 again and served as a visiting professor at Santiniketan University.

 

He completed the mural " Mumyo to Jakuko [Ignorance and Wisdom]" of Higashi Honganji Tsumura Betsuin Temple in 1969. After that he was requested by the Messiaen Center of Fukuoka city to do frescoes on unity of all the religions and embarked on creating "Sekai Judai Shukyu [Ten great religions of the world]". He made a start with paintings on Buddhism. Then in 1971, he started traveling around various places ranging from Nepal, Iran, Turkey, Israel etc., studied Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc. and collected materials on these religions. He continued the work for 12 years. In 1978 he completed the leading piece of the series, "Kamigami no Seki Himalaya [ The mountains of the Gods]".

 

Meanwhile in 1976, he received the International Order of Cultural Merit from Brazil and in 1984., was chosen as a outstanding citizen of Kyoto for his distinguished services in the field of culture.

His publications include "Sugimoto Tetsuro: paintings and treatise" (1934, Tokyo Atelier Co.), "My childhood days" (1963, Kyoto Shirakawa publishing house), "The scenaries of the Mind", (1969, Hatsune publishing Co.).

 

Sugimoto died of acute respiratory failure on 20th March, at 8:14 in the morning, at Otowa hospital in Yamashina district, Kyoto. He was 85.

 

Source: “Nihon Bijutsu Nenkan” 1986 issue
Photos: Mukul Dey Archives, http://nakaoshoten.asablo.jp/blog/, https://www.pinterest.com/

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nihonga Painter: Katayama Nanpu

KATAYAMA NANPU
堅山南風

 
The doyen of the Japanese art world and member of the Japan Academy of Arts, Katayama Nanpu was born at Kumamoto city on 12nd September in 1887. He was the third son of Takejirou (father) and Shige (mother). His real name was Kumaji.

Nanpu lost his parents very early and brought up by his grandfather. He started studying painting under local artist Fukushima Houn. In 1909, he came up to Tokyo and became the pupil of Takahashi Kouko.

In the next year, his picture scroll “Kaze No Ourai”, exhibited in the Katsumigakai Exhibition, got the certificate of merit. However Nanpu failed to receive any recognition in the Bunten exhibition (the annual art exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education) for four consecutive years. But, his “Shimotsumi Koro” exhibited in the 7th Bunten in 1913 brought a complete change in the approach for historical painting that was followed till then. Nanpu’s work demonstrated his approach towards the sensuous painting which greatly valued the colourful technique promoted by Shiko and others. The painting was strongly recommended by Taikan and got the second prize.

 

However due to the conflict of opinions, Taikan resigned as a jury of Bunten and re-established Nihon Bijutsuin [Japan Art Institute]. Nanpu also went ahead and joined the institute again. He looked up to Taikan as his mentor. However, after entering the Bijutsuin, Nanpu got into a slump and went under the shadow of Kobayashi Kokei, Maeda Seison and Yasuda Yukihiko. He returned to the basics of painting from nature and gradually found a way out in the genre of flowers and birds. 

Katayam left Japan on 25th November, 1916 along with Arai Kampo on his tour to Kolkata to break through the stagnation and his depressive of mood to painting. He visited various places in and around the city in this appx. two months period. Apart from drawing landscapes and portrates, he also made sketches of Buddhist images and statues in the museum. Travelled to Buddha Gaya, Delhi on February, 1917 and made a trip to highland Simla, Darjeeling. He made sketches of Himalayan mountain range and the areas around it. He went back to Japan in April. Katayam visited Bombay on his way back home and profoundly impressed by the Buddhist sculpture of Elephanta Caves. He spent 15 days there for sketching. The eight panel folding screen “An evening in the tropical country”, reflecting his impression of India was submitted in the 4th Inten (the Japan Art Institute Exhibition) in September. But the vivid colors of red and green used in the painting brought him severe criticism and it was told that "Nanpu has bacome colour blind".

 

Nanpu’s work substantially gained fullness since the success of his "Momo to Zakuro [ Peach and Pomegranate]" in the 9th Bunten. He became a member in 1924. Thereafter " Gyorakuzu [Playful Fish] Series " (1926), "夏題十趣" (1927), " Shoukachou [Tempering The Summer Heat] Series” (1929), "Isuichou Rensaku/ Shasuichou Rensaku" (1934) etc. came out and a relaxed, unassuming of mood to painting " Chisoku Anbun " evolved.

 

After the war, Nihon Bijutsuin also agreed to the request of participation in the Nitten Exhibition [the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition] in 1945. Nanpu served as a jury from 1946 onward and became the secretary in 1955.
Post war, Nanpu's work were characterized by portrait painting. It was started with the exhibition of “Portrait of Master O” at the 39th Japan Art Institute Exhibition (Inten) in 1954. Thereafter continued with “Mushano Koji Sensei” (1955), “Yokoyama Taikan Sensei” (1957), “Shizuko Fujin” (1960), “K Sensei [painter Kanayama Heizo]” (1964), “Shinryou No Kyaku” (1969) etc, Nanpu painted his work in bright colors and serene, unsophisticated style.

 

Later, he was engaged in restoring the ceiling paintings "Naki Ryu [Roaring Dragon]” (painted by Kanou Yasunobu and lost in a fire in 1936) of Honjido hall of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, for 3 years starting from 1964.

 

He went to Tahiti at the age of 88 in 1975, for a sketching trip. His colouring became still more vivid and he never lost his youthfulness till his last moment.

He became a member of the (Japan) Academy of Arts in 1958; received the honour for his distinguished services in the field of culture in 1963 and the Order of Culture Award in 1963. He was also honoured as a illustrious citizen of Kumamoto city.

 

Katayama got bad cold on 24th due to the failure of heating system caused by the power supply breakdown. However, he kept on painting till he was confined to bed. Finally he passed away of pneumonia on 30th December at 3:39 PM at his residence in Shizuoka prefecture in 1980.

SOURCE:『日本美術年鑑』昭和56年版(284-288)
PHOTO SOURCE: http://kijyaku.blog95.fc2.com/blog-date-200704.html, Rabindra Okakura Bhavan, Kolkata, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The love for his country overflowing poet’s heart

TAGORE: THE LOVE FOR HIS COUNTRY OVERFLOWING POET'S HEART

Translated from: ターゴル:詩人の胸にたぎる國愛 by 荒井寛方
 
 
 
"I want to invite Japanese painters to India" - at the desire of the great bard Tagore, I went to Kolkata with an eye to pursue Indian art and spend two full years with Tagore family. Hundred miles away from Kolkata, in the middle of a vast plain, there was a dense and luxuriant forest. The forest was called Shan-Ke-Ni-Tan [Santiniketan] and there was the poet Tagore's school.That day, the poet returned home from foreign tour after a long time. I went halfway to met and welcome him. Then, from there we made a journey to his school. 

The train reached Bolpur station at 12 midnight. There were around two hundred students in white robes waiting, holding up the blazing torches in their hands. No sooner than the old man got off the train the students rushed out to him crying out in unison in a language that seemed like a prayer and crowded around him in such a way that he could not move at all. The warmth of the human heart deeply touched even a man like me, who was nothing more than a mere traveler from an alien country, when I observed the loving embraces of the master and his beloved pupils who were meeting each other after six months.

From there, the poet went barefoot and crossed a distance of more than 3.9 Km. to reach the school. The fires in the iron basket lined up beside the road up to the school gate were burning bright and red. The school gate was made of local wood. There was a beautifully colored lotus seat placed under the gate. The poet sat on that. The solemn prayer and the chorus voices of singing then reverberated in the woods of Shan-Ke-Ni-Tan [Santiniketan] in that small hour. The welcoming assembly came to an end after an hour. At that night I stayed with the poet at a row house like residence hall. I had a feeling that the ancient vision/wish of the land of Buddha had truly come along and revealed itself before my very eyes. At that moment, I realized that it would have been quite impious to sink into sleep at such a mysterious Indian night.

 Next evening, "Tagore sir is going to give a speech" hearing that I went alone, making my way through the dark, dense woods of tropical plants like Sal, Banyan etc. The school was actually a class under the tree. Deep inside the serene, tranquil forest that made one think of the ancient times, the fire lambently lightened up the darkness. An elegant white marble seating stone had been placed in the shade of the trees and poet was sitting quietly on that. the pupils surrounded the poet; they sat cross-legged on the ground one by one around him and made a circle. Then, they were engrossed in listening to the gems like words of the poems coming out from the mouth of the poet in a voice like the chimes of a silver bell modulating in high and low tones.

The figure of the poet, clad in immaculate white robe, was sharply outlined against the darkness in the bonfire wavering in the gentle breeze. The majestic figure of the philosopher Tagore, with abundant pearly white hair hanging down on the shoulders, silvery beard undulating on the chest, his burning passion for the motherland being expressed in each of the phrases of the poems and his urge for the awakening of India, was expressing that the eternal life was imbued with unending bliss of heaven to this seated saint. Now, at this moment of the evening in the San-Ke-Ni-Tan [Santiniketan] forest, the ancient saint in his preset incarnation came down. What a mystic and poetic scene it was. It was a unification of the spirit of cosmos and the soul of human being. When I tried to get near him, I can remember that, my feet were spontaneously transfixed.  

The Tagore mansion in Karu-Katta [Kolkata], where I stayed for two years, was a house made in magnificent Italian flavour to a certain extent. I was a imposing three storied building with innumerable rooms. The venerable Tagore succeeded as the head of Tagore family. So, many relatives in difficulties used to keep their families in this large old building that had passed two centuries. Beside the mansion there was a studies center, named Vi-Chi-To-Ra [Vichitra], where music, fine arts, industrial art, literature were studied. Once in a week poet used to bring together around hundred young people. He used to conduct discussion at one time or recitation of poems on another occasion. Sometimes poet himself also performed in his own play. On one such occasion, I saw poet, impersonating an old man symbolizing the "old India", calling out in bitter sarcasm - " Birth of a glorious new India !", " The India, taken way from us, has come into our hands again!"

The Great European War was then going on. I was confined to my bed with malaria. Poet, at that time, used to bring together four or five young people every evening and used to give the singing lessons. When I heard the songs faintly streaming into my sick bed, I found that the rhythm was quite different from the usual songs. they were sung in Bengali language in deep pitched voice. I could not understand the meaning, but they were full of force and on listening to them would have feeling as if needles were piercing into one's heart. This singing lessons continued for more than ten days. "There must be something serious... What has happened..." I wondered. My nerves were on edge with a gloomy premonition. Then one evening poet quietly came to see me in by sickbed.

"Arai San, I am going to give a political speech for the first time in my life. My family will probably be arrested by the police tonight. I may not be able to come back home. In that case, Ari San will be all alone in this large house. I am leaving the rest up to you". For the first time poet showed a firm resolve.

"Is this the final meeting then?" - Tears spontaneously flowed down in spite of myself, when I thought of it. I was running fever and saw the old man to the door with a shambling motion. I was feeling so anxious that I could not go to sleep.

Just about two hours had passed. "Oh!" - a cried out voice became audible from a distance.
"This is it..., something worst has happened...." - When this was in my mind, a raging wave of shouts was drawing closer;  the poet  came back along with a surging crowd, exclaiming - "I am not arrested ! I am not imprisoned!". In that evening he had sung the patriotic songs which were secretly practiced regularly in the evening earlier and scathingly criticized the police authority of India with absolute desperation. The authorities restrained themselves from arresting him, as they feared that if the situation was disturbed, it might actually have the opposite effect and would make the matter even worse. I felt relieved to the poet safe; I had feared that could never meet him again.

Tagore used to take a stroll on the rooftop in the evening whenever he was at his home in [Kolkata]. He, turning his face skyward, would gaze at the stars twinkling like living things. And the, before long he would become motionless and would loose himself in deep contemplation. At that time his poetic imagination expanded with terrific vitality. His "Philosophy of leisure" was perhaps born out of his meditation on the rooftop. While all the people of Karu-Katta [Kolkata] indulged in silly dreams during their afternoon siesta, the bard, with a pen always in his hand, would put down his rooftop musings of the previous night in the forms of poetry and essay.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
(Lines from the poem written by Tagore)



SOURCE: 世界人の横顔 [朝日新聞社・ 四条書房]
国立国会図書館 : URL: http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1174973

 (Arai Kampo was a member of Nihon Bijutsu-In [Japan Art Institute] and a scholar of Indian art.)