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Economically in decline, and with its traditional craft industries going the same way, the city of Kyoto, having lost its nominal status as Japan’s capital city in 1868, turned to education. Sixty four elementary schools were established by 1869, and secondary schools followed. The 130th anniversary of Kyoto City University of Arts traces its own foundation as the Kyoto Prefecture School of Painting in 1880 to these educational reforms.

“The Formation of Kyoto Nihonga — The Master Painter’s Challenges” at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art celebrates the school and attempts to trace the development of the formative concepts of what became known as nihonga (Japanese-style painting) in later years and what was distinctive about Kyoto’s contribution to it.

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