Biography of Japanese Painter

Hasegawa Tohaku (1539 - 1610)

Japanese style painter flourished in the Azuchi-Momoyama (Sengoku) period (1573-1603).

Tohaku was born in the 8th year of the Tenbun era (1539) in Nanao of Noto Province (present Ishikawa Prefecture) as a son of Okumura Munemichi, low-class Samurai warrior who served the Hatakeyama family.
Tohaku's real given name was Matashiro.
Tohaku became an adopted child of Hasegawa Munekiyo who ran a dyeing business.
As the Hasegawas were dedicated believers of the Nichiren-Shu Sect of Buddhism, Tohaku depicted many Buddhist paintings regarding the Nichiren-Shu in his early days.

However, his adopted parents died and Tohaku decided to go to Kyoto with his son (Kyuzo) in 1571.
Tohaku had a strong rivalry with the Kano School.
He studied the Kano style and also the Chinese style, then, established his original painting style.
Tohaku had a relationship with Sen no Rikyu, the great founder of Japanese Chanoyu tea ceremony.
Tohaku depicted murals (Shoheki-ga) of the Daitoku-Ji Temple in Kyoto.
As a result, he joined the ranks of popular painters.
He also got an order to paint murals of the abdicated emperor's palace, however, Kano Eitoku interrrupted the order.
Though, Eitoku died suddenly in 1590, and, Tohaku could get an order to depict murals of the Shoun-Ji Temple.
Until this time, the Hasegawa School intimidated the Kano School.

In 1593, Kyuzo, Tohaku's talented son, died.
In 1604, Tohaku was ordained as Hokkyo rank.
In the next year, he was ordained as Hogen rank.
In 1610, he was invited to come to Edo (present Tokyo) from Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Bakufu (shogunate).
Although, Tohaku caught a disease during his trip, and, he deceased on the second day of the arrival at Edo. After his death, the Hasegawa School declined as there were few talented disciples.

  • Ryu Dragon from Ryu-Ko-zu, 1606
  • Tora Tiger from Ryu-Ko-zu, 1606
  • Fusuma-e (Painting on Sliding Door),  In Chichaku-In Temple
  • Matsubayashi-zu Byobu, Useki Right
  • Matsubayashi-zu Byobu, Saseki Left
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