Went down to Masuda (Shimane Prefecture) last weekend to photograph a couple of Sesshu's gardens in the spring.
After Hokusai, Sesshu is probably the Japanese artist most well-known outside of Japan.
Sesshu was born in Bitchu province, present-day Okayama Prefecture in 1420. As a youth he became a Zen monk at a local temple, and as a young man he moved to Kyoto and studied under the greatest painter of the time, Shubun.
In his middle-age he moved to what is now Yamaguchi Prefecture, and made an important visit to China in 1468-9. He was based at his studio in Yamaguchi in his later life, but also spent some time in nearby Masuda, Shimane Prefecture. He died in 1506, though historians are undecided exactly where. Masuda claims he died there, and has built a memorial museum next to his reputed tomb.
Known mostly for his monochromatic ink paintings, Sesshu was also a garden designer, and what is considered one of his best remains at Iko-Ji temple, where he was head priest for a while. The temple and garden are open from 9am-5pm daily, and the 300 yen entrance also includes a variety of paintings and statues.
Sesshu built another garden at nearby Mampuku-Ji temple, though this garden is simpler and more austere. Mampuku-Ji is open from 8am-5pm daily and the 300 yen entrance also includes exhibitions of art and sculptures.
The Sesshu Memorial Hall has several examples of his paintings, other items from his life, and a modern garden. It is open from 9-5 daily (closed Tuesday). Entrance 300 yen.
Sesshu Memorial Hall
Tel: 0856 24 0500
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Japanese Art Shimane Masuda Sesshu
Wednesday, April 30, 2008