Isson Tanaka (1908-77) was deemed a painting prodigy on winning a children’s art competition at age 7. By age 50, however, his career had slowly gone nowhere.

Giving up his Tokyo environs, he burned his numerous sketchbooks, sold his houseand headed south to Amami Oshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, in the Ryukyu island chain. He lived in near poverty, minimally supporting himself by dyeing fabrics, as he developed a brightly colored painting style known as Southern Rinpa that posthumously captured the nation’s heart.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.