Miyajima Eishi | Calligraphy
His family's long standing tradition was politics. And Miyajima Eishi's father had great plans for his son. When he was eleven Eishi was sent to Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899) to become his student. Kaishu – a statesman, engineer, and naval commander with an impressive career – was an outstanding figure in early Meiji Japan. And Kaishu would be an outstanding teacher for a future leader. But Kaishu was also something else. He was a calligrapher. And for some reason that’s what impressed young Miyajima Eishi most. Eishi wanted to become a literatus instead of a leader, and wanted to devote his life to ink, brush and poetry.
Eishi studied Chinese and graduated from Tokyo School of Foreign Languages in 1884. And in 1887 with the support of Li Shuchang (1837- 1897), the Chinese ambassador to Japan, he was accepted at Lianchi Academy in Baoding, where Zhang Yuzhao (1823-1894) was his teacher. Upon whose death in 1894 Eishi returned to Japan where he founded a school dedicated to Chinese language, literature, and calligraphy. This school was Zenrinshoin, “The Study of Good Neighbors”, and the insinuated good neighbors obviously were Japan and China. Some say that Eishi later refused the request to become the last Emperor of China’s teacher.
The lines Miyajima Eishi has brushed in his typical manner and in his typical paper were taken from Han Yu’s Ping-huai-xi tablet, a ninth century record of a military campaign and an a often cited source of Confucian thought.
“The soldiers of Cai,
sing and dance
at the gate and chat.”
This calligraphy belonged to Honda Shozo, one of Miyajima Eishi’s students, who later lived in Manchuria as an employee of Daido Gakuin, the Japanese Academy in Manchuria, and was an eye-witness of the Mukten Incident about which he published in 1935.
Celebrating Miyajima Eishi’s tenth death anniversary the Miyajima family held a memorial service at Gotoku-ji temple in Setagaya. One of the donors was Honda Shozo. Eishi’s son, Miyajima Teisuke wrote a letter to thank Shozo (this letter accompanies the scroll):
"With the best wishes for your health and happiness, I’d like to thank you for your donation for Kannon Chinkai gathering. With your kindness, we had about 100 people joining under the beautiful sky, and the gathering closed well. Thank you very much. - November 17th Chinkai-Kannon gathering Organizer, Miyajima Teisuke. To Mr. Honda Shozo."
Miyajima Eishi (1867-1943)
Ink on paper
30.3 x 43.8 cm (12 x 17 1/4 in.)
Mounting 110.5 x 57.5 cm (43 1/2 x 22 1/2 in.)