miyajima eishi calligraphy

Miyajima Eishi | Calligraphy

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His family's tradition was politics. And his father had great plans for his son. When Miyajima Eishi was eleven he was sent to Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899), a statesman, engineer, and naval commander with an impressive career; an outstanding figure in early Meiji Japan. And Kaishu would be an outstanding teacher for a future leader. But Kaishu was also something completely different. He was a calligrapher. And that was what impressed young Miyajima Eishi most. And Eishi wanted to become a literatus not a leader, to devote his life to ink not intrigue, to live for poetry not power. 

literatus not leader,
ink not intrigue,
poetry not power.

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 on his typical paper were taken from Han Yu’s Ping-huai-xi tablet, a ninth century record and an a often cited source of Confucian thought.
 
“Hollyhocks* smile
welcoming at the gate - 
singing, dancing, and chatting.”

 

*In Heian-era Shinto belief the Aoi plant (Hollihock) had the power to ward off thunderstorms and earthquakes. In the Edo period, the plant was the family crest of the Tokugawa shoguns and their relatives in the Matsudaira clan. (Baird, Symbols of Japan, p. 69)

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. He 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.)
Wooden box