Art of Japan: A flower cut down before full bloom

Art of Japan: A flower cut down before full bloom

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The esteemed Japanese artist Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) must have been crestfallen on hearing of the death of Suzuki Reitan (1792-1817). After all, Reitan had studied under Hōitsu. Therefore, one of the flowers he was teaching would never bloom.

Hence, the legacy of the short life of Reitan is much smaller than it should have been. For Reitan was endowed with great artistic skills from a young age. However, rabies would end the life of Reitan while he was still in his mid-20s.

It is easy to imagine Reitan enjoying relaxing times outside of art with Hōitsu. This especially applies to culture, gardens, and religion. Indeed, Hōitsu became a Buddhist monk in the later stages of his life. Therefore, the interwoven nature of art, culture, gardens and other areas linked to high culture played an important part in the daily lives of Hōitsu and Reitan.

It is known that Hōitsu spoke of utter shock and despair in a letter he sent to a personal friend. Hence, the death of Reitan brought great sorrow to Hōitsu.

Overall, the art of Reitan never reached full maturity because he died at a young age. However, with the passages of time, one can imagine that his limited years were based on art, culture, love, and a sense of belonging.


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