otagaki rengetsu calligraphy letter kogo incence container

Otagaki Rengetsu | Letter

SKU: R1667


Otagaki Rengetsu: Poetry & Artwork from a Rustic Hut, Nomura Art Museum, Kyoto, exhibition catalogue, 2014, p. 90 and 91.


Letter to Yasuyuki | Yesterday you came to my house, but I was out. I'm very sorry. Also, you left me some lovely things to eat. Thank you so much. This tanzaku I offer you is very clumsy... it's a shame. I made it badly, please forgive me. (The priest of) Jinkou-in also gave me some fine sugar. Please pass along my gratitude. I heard you left Kyoto this morning... when you come again; I shall thank you face to face. These incense caddies are clumsy, and surely people will laugh at them. It's a shame, but for now, since I don't have anything good with which to return your favour, I give you these. Please pass one of them along to Jinkou-in. Stay well, and return home in peace... so I hope. - Warmly, to Yasuyuki, the twelfth day of the ninth month.


This letter forms a set with one of the two incense container in the shape of a turtle. The poem is inscribed on the original box:


Since this turtle
overflows its measure
of 10,000 years
how long shall
the one who keeps it live?


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Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)


17 x 63.5 cm (6 3/4 x 25 in.)

Mounting 110 x 66.5 (43 1/4 x 26 in.)

Collectors box and later certificate box


Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

Incense container

Glazed ceramic

2.9 x 6.8 cm (1 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.)

Original box (tomobako) with poem