Japan art and Kano Masanobu (1434-1530)

Japan art and Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) 

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The art schools of Kano and Tosa are instrumental in Japan concerning the fusion of art, culture, and the continuation of high culture. Thus, Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) will always be an individual of high acclaim because he is the real founding father of the art school of Kano.

His father, Kanō Kagenobu, was an amateur artist who belonged to the samurai class. From the outset, the acclaimed artist Tenshō Shūbun influenced Masanobu.

Naturally, with Shūbun also being a Buddhist priest, Buddhist themes and the mindset of space and time were installed in Masanobu. The cultural impact of the Middle Kingdom (China) was enormous in Japan. However, despite Masanobu focusing on the suiboku style of art that originated in the Middle Kingdom, he managed to create a distinctive Japanese touch.

The Met Museum says, “Kano Masanobu (1434–1530) is credited with establishing the Kano school as a professional atelier in Kyoto. Although not himself a Zen adherent, Masanobu was closely associated with influential Zen temples and adopted the Chinese painting style that they favored. Imported along with Zen philosophy and practice, Chinese-style painting was characterized by a strong emphasis on brushwork, predominance of ink with little or no use of pigments, and preference for Chinese subjects, especially images of Zen patriarchs and landscapes. Taking advantage of the close relationship between the Zen monks and the Ashikaga shoguns, who looked to the temples for cultural and religious advice, Masanobu and his followers secured and maintained the highly lucrative favor of the military rulers of the day.”

During the height of the art school of Kano – the longevity is much longer – the prominence lasted over 300 years in Japan. This is despite the countless historical changes that took place internally related to the pre-Edo Period and the Edo Period.


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