An Explication of Narrow Road to the Far North (Oku-no-
Hosomichi) Screen Painting by Yosa Buson
Japanese Nanga school Painting (or Bunjinga, literati painting) was
developed from the first half of the 18th century to the latter half of the 19th
Buson is one of the most greatest haiku poets and painters of Nanga school
or literati painting in the Edo period.
Yosa Buson (1716-1783) as a haiku poet admired Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).
In the world of haiku the revival movement of Basho style has started after
the fiftieth anniversary of Basho’s death during fifty years in 18th century.
Buson completed many scrolls and folding screens from Basho’s text of
Narrow Road to the Far North during this movement.
Today four works of this theme, that is, three scrolls (Umi-no-mieru-Mori
Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Itsuo Museum) and one folding screen
(Yamagata Museum of Art) could be found.
We considerate Buson’s handwriting, technique and style of its illustrations
of screen painting, dating the work of Anei 8 (1779) in the Yamagata Museum
of Art, Hasegawa collection.
Now we know Buson’s many unique masterpieces of so-called Shain period
in his later years after Anei period at the close of the 18th century.
We will attend furthermore to the frame of ink painting in his screen of
Narrow Road to the Far North.
We can understand the special features and new attempts of Buson,
together with accomplishments of Nanga school painting.
Furthermore, we can also discover here the artistic styles, completion of
Haiga (painting of haiku) and his ideas during the total life in the particular
complicated circumstances of his masters and same generations in Kanto
district and Kyoto.