Fukuda Kodojin


Fukuda Kodojin
福田古道人 Fukuda Kodoojin

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Backhamn Eckstein, Japanese Art

Kodojin was born in the small town of Shingu in rural Wakayama Prefecture. Although he became so skilled in Chinese poetry that he published a collection of verse while in his twenties, Kodojin switched to making modern-style haiku after becoming a follower of Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) in 1889.

Writing under his haijin name, Haritsu, Kodojin frequently published haiku in poetry magazines in the late Meiji period, and he became widely known as Shiki's diciple. In the last thirty years of his life, he again wrote Chinese verse and began to paint distinctive literati landscapes signed with his painting name, Kodojin.

He also made simple paintings of plants and flowers that emphasized his dramatic brushwork and inscriptions of Chinese poetry. Kodojin was one of the earliest admirers of Tomita Keisen, who possessed a similar taste of unusual compositions and unconventional brushwork. Although the details of Kodojin's patronage remain unclear, a great many of his paintings are exquisitely mounted, suggesting that his works were acquired by wealthy collectors. - Cf. Morioka, Michiyo and Paul Berry: Modern Masters of Kyoto. The Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions (Nihonga from the Griffith and Patricia Way Collection), 1999 Seattle Art Museum, pp. 216-217.

Exhibition about Fukuda Kodojin
source : www.bachmanneckenstein.com


Fukuda Haritsu, as Haiku Poet

He was born in Shingu, Wakayama.
After meeting Shiki he choose the haiku name Kodoojin (Old Taoist).
Apart from haiku, he wrote waka and also painted haiga.

The Haiku of the “Old Taoist” Fukuda Kodojin.
Stephen Addiss

It is generally accepted that the traditional Japanese literati world of art and poetry came to an end with the modernization and Westernization that began in the late nineteenth century. The persona of a poet-sage who embraces poverty, creates art primarily for his own and his friends' enjoyment, and devotes himself to self-cultivation would seem to have no place in a society that values economic growth and public achievement.

It is therefore a considerable surprise to discover the art of Fukuda Kodojin (1865-1944), who lived almost through the Second World War and maintained a literati lifestyle to the end of his days. His art name Kodojin literally means “Old Taoist,” and he was a master of painting, calligraphy, kanshi (Chinese-style poetry), and haiku. How did Kodojin reconcile such cultural values in the modern age? What success could a poet-painter expect, and indeed how much success would he desire, in industrial Japan? Do his life, poetry, and art represent the resiliency of an old tradition faced with new conditions and new challenges?

Showing his literati talent at a young age, Kodojin wrote his first haiku at age five (by Japanese count; we would consider him to have been four years old).

tsurube kara yo ni tobidetaru i no kawazu

Jumping from the
bucket into the world—
frog in the well

It was from his poetry that Kodojin's paintings emerged, functioning as another expression of his inner feelings and values. Although many more of Kodojin's nanga (Chinese-style literati paintings) than haiga (haiku-paintings) survive, there are still a number of fine haiga from his hand. One example shows a hibachi (brazier) with smoke billowing forth, carrying with it a few ashes from the charcoal fire. Next to the hibachi rests a Chinese-style round fan, significantly decorated with a painting of the literati theme of orchids. The inscribed haiku descends in counterpoint to the rising smoke

kayari shite tsuma ko to kataru ukiyo kana

Smoking out insects,
chatting with my wife and children -
this floating world

A second haiga by Kodojin shows a folk-subject, the Snow Daruma. Since there is a legend about the First Patriarch of Zen that his legs fell off during his nine years of meditation, a snowman is known in Japan as a Snow Daruma.
In this work there is a stress on the word “jakumetsu,” which can mean both “nirvana” and “fading away.”

Yuki Daruma sude ni jakumetsu itaku kana

Snow Daruma
already extinguished—
what joy!

The calligraphy of the haiku encloses this sad-faced figure with a touch of whimsical humor— is melting away a sadness or a joy?

source : www.simplyhaiku.com, October 2004

. . . . . . . . . . . . . A note about the translation

The above was a spelling mistake in SH.

The last line reads : itaru kana
jakumetsu itaru (寂滅至る) means "reaching Nirvana"

Yuki Daruma sude ni jakumetsu itaru kana

snowman Daruma -
already he has reached
its final destination
Tr. Gabi Greve

. Discussion at Facebook


Offered here an ink landscape on paper by the eccentric and highly sought Japanese artist Fukuda Kodojin (1865-1944) dated 1919.

Birds fly over the stubble of harvested rice fields, while odd thatch-roofed huts sprouting from wind beat grass focus our attention on the dark forested left of the scene. The vigorous brushwork and complexity of the scene belie the typical scenes of cold winter death, and seems to intimate a hidden energy busy at the task of Preparing for spring. It is set in an unusual border of olive brocade patterned with manjirushi (symbols of eternity) and flower dials.

He was self taught, part of a small group of artists existing outside conventional circles in pre-war Japan. Taking the time just before his death to destroy the large portion of his remaining own work, leaving only that which must have met some personal criteria.
For more on his life see the book
Old Taoist, or Unexplored Avenues of Japanese Painting.
His work also was recently presented for exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and is part of the Hakutakuan collection among many others.
source : www.the-kura.com


. Ogawa Haritsu 小川破笠 Haiku Poet
1663 - 1747

. Introducing Japanese Haiku Poets  



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