Ama-no-Hashidate ink painting by Sesshū Tōyō

"Ama-no-Hashidate" by Sesshū Tōyō

Ama-no-Hashidate is one of the three most beautiful views in Japan. Sesshū Tōyō (1420-1506) drew a lot of Chinese scenery, but after returning from China, he traveled around Japan and left the pictures of the scenery. More than 20 genuine Sesshu’s works are now identified, many of them considered to have been painted in his 50s after he returned from China. A work in which Ama-no-Hashidate is drawn from the east side. The time of production is considered to be between 1501 and 1506 since  there are both the two-storied pagoda of Chionji Temple and the buildings of Seijoji Temples on the screen. Therefore, it can be seen that he, who was already over 80 years old, actually went to the site and made this picture. The scene is said to resemble a photograph taken by a helicopter from 800 meters in the air, but there is no spot on the site where you can see the sight from a bird’s perspective. He didn’t just paint the actual landscape on the screen, but reconstruct it from a bird’s-eye view.

He used rough brushstrokes of dark ink, as well as calm and soft, and quick momentum. There are signs of redrawing and the names of temples and shrines, but there is no signature, so it is highly possible that it was a draft. But the wide spread, solid stable, and the splendor of free depiction are unique to Sesshu. This is a masterpiece of Sesshu that has been painting for a lifetime with the aim of integrating the worlds of Zen and painting.

Title: Ama-no-Hashidate

Author: Sesshū Tōyō

Year: 1501-1506

Size: 90.2×169.5 cm

Own: Kyoto National Museum

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