Tenshin Okakura


What’s Amazing About Tenshin Okakura?

Did he become an artist because of his hysterical wife? The curious life of a great artist

Did he become an artist because of his hysterical wife? The curious life of a great artist
In Meiji period, Tenshin Okakura was an artist who felt sad about his own country modernizing dramatically at that time. He tried to introduce greatness of Japanese culture to foreign countries. He was born in Yokohama and started studying English when he was 6. Since he grew up in a wealthy family, he joined one of the top level schools in Japan, Tokyo Kaisei School(Tokyo University) without any trouble. When he was 17 and still a student, he got married to a woman who was 3 years younger than him. The marriage surprisingly made him an artist.

He suffered with his final thesis writhing about trade. However, his wife burned the thesis when they got a fight(She was unstable since she was pregnant at that time). He rewrote the thesis with different themes “art and culture” in 2 weeks before the deadline.
Perhaps, the theme was the easiest to write the thesis as fast as he could without research.

He later joined to Ministry of Education、Culture、Sports、Science and Technology and learned more about art by visiting US to inspect works of art. He was appointed to a principal of Tokyo Art School at the time he became 27. However, he left the school because of the rumor that he fell in love with a married woman.

After leaving the school, he moved to Ibaraki with young artists. He began to create new work that integrated Eastern and Western art. He used a unique painting technique with vague line. First this style was not accepted in general, but became popular gradually later.
It was great piece if you saw this through modern sensibility.

Mothern Art Museum in Mito has his painting that portrayed 3 women floating lanterns.
The figures of women in the painting are known as the most beautiful women of the museum.

He worked on multiple tasks like painting, development of new artists and introducing Japanese art to foreign countries. If his wife was not hysterical, he would be famous in different field.

Wrote by Megumi Ogura