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Learning at Tokyo University of the Arts
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Its history was in the conflict between the wave of Westernization and the Eastern tradition.
"Statue of Tenshin Okakura" by Denchu Hiragushi

"Statue of Tenshin Okakura" by Denchu Hiragushi

"Statue of Tenshin Okakura," created by Denchu Hiragushi who is a great sculptor in the modern Japanese sculpture circle, is placed at the center of the Faculty of Fine Arts facilities. Denchu, who admired Tenshin, made a deep bow to the statue every time he attended the school.[Click the image to see details.]

Tokyo University of the Arts' Website

Following the Eleven Principles for the Establishment of National Universities, Tokyo Fine Arts School and Tokyo Music School were merged to form "Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music" in 1949. Later in 2004, following the National University Corporation Act, the university was renamed "National University Corporation Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku," or Tokyo University of the Arts after the departments of the undergraduate and graduate schools were expanded and reorganized several times. (12-8 Ueno Park, Taito City)


Kakuzo (Tenshin) Okakura sitting astride his horse "Wakakusa-go"

Kakuzo (Tenshin) Okakura sitting astride his horse "Wakakusa-go"




Tenshin Okakura served as the president of the school from the age of 29 to 37, so he was much younger than other instructors, including Gaho Hashimoto. Tenshin was a passionate person who lectured on art history and aesthetics at the school, planned exhibitions outside the school and held important posts, such as an executive board member-cum-art department director of the Imperial Museum, while carrying out his duties as the school's president. In around 1893, in order to expand Tokyo Fine Arts School, which was a small scale school with 25 instructors and 214 students, Tenshin presented the "art school expansion bill," which was related to organization and budget expansions, including an enlargement of the departments of Western Painting and Western Sculpture, to the Imperial Diet. Although the bill was passed in 1895, it was an amendment bill, which was different from Tenshin's intension and promoted both Japanese and Western arts. It is thought that the bill was amended following the opinion of then Education Minister Kinmochi Saionji. The establishment of the Western Painting department was decided immediately after the bill was passed. Seiki Kuroda, Keiichiro Kume and others, who were close to Saionji, were selected as instructors, and the Department of Western Painting was inaugurated in the following year, 1896. On the strength of the amendment bill, the new school of Western Painting, including Kuroda, confronted president Tenshin with an opinion paper on school reform. The following year, 1897, articles criticizing Tenshin appeared on newspapers, building momentum toward the removal of Tenshin. Ryuichi Kuki also showed an attitude of expelling Tenshin in 1898, therefore, Thenshin submitted his resignation from the executive board member-cum-art department director of the Imperial Museum, and later resigned as the school's president. Although 33 instructors, including Gaho Hashimoto, who felt righteous indignation, also submitted their resignations, Tenshin advised them not to resign. However, most of them who submitted their resignations, led by Tenshin and Gaho, established the Japan Art Institute, a private institution. (Cited from Tokyo University of the Arts' public relations magazine "Geidai Tsushin, 11th Issue")

A sketching class of former Tokyo Fine Arts School's Japanese Painting department

A sketching class of former Tokyo Fine Arts School's Japanese Painting department

Tokyo University of the Arts was established with 2 faculties and 10 departments through the merger of Tokyo Fine Arts School (present-day Faculty of Fine Arts) and Tokyo Music School (present-day Faculty of Music) in 1949, following the Eleven Principles for the Establishment of National Universities. The university now consists of 2 faculties and 14 departments and 3 graduate schools (Graduate School of Fine Arts, Graduate School of Music and Graduate School of Film and New Media) and has campuses in Ueno Park, Taito City, Tokyo, Toride City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture and Senju, Adachi City, Tokyo. It is the country's only national, comprehensive art university. The history of Tokyo Fine Arts School began when "Zuga Torishirabe Gakari," or the Drawing Study Committee, was established under the Ministry of Education, and Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, Tenshin Okakura, Hogai Kano and others prepared to found a national art school. The school was renamed "Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko," or Tokyo Fine Arts School, in 1887, and moved to the site where the former Education Museum previously stood in Ueno Park in 1888. The school, which was a five-year school being dedicated to promote art unique to Japan, started to give classes in February 1889. At first, the school had 3 special courses, Painting (Japanese Painting), Sculpture (Wood Carving) and Crafts (Metalworking and Lacquer Craft), and later the Departments of Metal-casting and Western Painting were added, and the school was merged into Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (present-day Tokyo University of the Arts) after reforming its system several times.(continued in the lower column)

Arata Hamao, the first president of Tokyo Fine Arts School and Kakuzo (Tenshin) Okakura, the second president

Arata Hamao, the first president of Tokyo Fine Arts School
He served as the Director of the Special Schools Bureau and the school's president from 1887 to 1890.

Kakuzo (Tenshin) Okakura, the second president
He served as the second president from 1890 to 1898 after taking up positions as the executive member and the acting president of the school. He resigned his post due to so-called "Bko Sodo." Tenshin and Gaho Hashimoto submitted their resignations, and established the "Nihon Bijutsuin" or the Japan Art Institute, a private institution.

Tenshin Okakura (1863-1913) was born in Yokohama, studied at "Tokyo Kaisei Gakko (present-day the University of Tokyo)." He was strongly influenced by the artistic theory of Fenollosa who was a lecturer at Tokyo Kaisei Gakko. Then, he belonged to the Ministry of Education, and, together with Fenollosa, was sent on an inspection tour of Western art. In 1890, Tenshin succeeded Arata Hamao, the first president of Tokyo Fine Arts School, and became the second president. At first, Fenollosa and other instructors, including Mayori Kurokawa, Gaho Hashimoto, Koun Takamura, Gyokusho Kawabata, Shoseki Kose and Natsuo Kano, taught at the school, creating the actual foundation of it. Later, Seiki Kuroda, Takeji Fujishima, Eisaku Wada, Saburosuke Okada and others arrived to take up positions of instructors at the departments of Western Painting and Design. In 1898, Tenshin left the school, and, together with Gaho Hashimoto, Taikan Yokoyama, Shunso Hishida and others, founded the Japan Art Institute. This course of events indicates that, at that time, Japan was torn between respect for the Eastern tradition and a breath of fresh air from the West. "Statue of Tenshin Okakura" by Denchu Hiragushi is placed in Rokkakudo, located in the grounds of the Faculty of Fine Arts, which was built to commemorate Tenshin Okakura.(continued in the lower column)

Based on the ideology of the restoration of tradition, instructors wear the uniform that imitates "Ketteki," or ancient official dress with unstitched open sides, and the "Orieboshi" cap. The early period of Tokyo Fine Arts School (around 1900)

Based on the ideology of the restoration of tradition, instructors wear the uniform that imitates "Ketteki," or ancient official dress with unstitched open sides, and the "Orieboshi" cap. From left to right; Natsuo Kano, Koun Takamura, Mayori Kurokawa, Tenshin Okakura, Gaho Hashimoto.

The early period of Tokyo Fine Arts School (around 1900)
The main hall of the school at that time was the former Tokyo Education Museum.

Masaki Memorial Gallery

Masaki Memorial Gallery

Masaki Memorial Gallery
The gallery designed by Tsuneji Kanazawa (then assistant professor at the Department of Architecture), together with the adjacent Chinretsukan Gallery, form a scene that evokes the history of Tokyo Fine Arts School.

"Statute of Naohiko Masaki" by Ichiga Numata

Chinretsukan Gallery

"Statute of Naohiko Masaki" by Ichiga Numata
The Masaki Memorial Gallery was built in 1935 to publicly honor longtime services of Naohiko Masaki, the former president of Tokyo Fine Arts School. This ceramic statue is placed in the courtyard of the gallery.

Chinretsukan Gallery
The Chinretsukan Gallery stands adjacent to the Masaki Memorial Gallery. The Chinretsukan Gallery was designed and built by Shinichiro Okada in 1929, and has been used as a main gallery for a long time. The first floor of the gallery is designed for exhibiting three-dimensional works, such as sculptures, in natural light from side windows, and the second floor is for exhibiting two-dimensional works, such as paintings, in light from high windows.

Later, Naohiko Masaki (1862-1940), who took up a position as the fifth president, hold the position for more than 30 years until 1932, and successively served as the director of "Teikoku Bijutsuin," or the Imperial Fine Arts Academy, and as a judge at various exhibitions. Naohiko Masaki also brought about a settlement between Tokyo Fine Arts School and the Japan Art Institute when he first took the position, and promised to take over Tenshin's ideology of the restoration of tradition while holding the balance between the ideology and the Western school. President Masaki strove to improve the school system based on the policy that respects both Japanese and Western arts, solidifying the presence of Tokyo Fine Arts School. The "Chinretsukan Gallery," which was built to store and exhibit items that Masaki collected while he was in the office, and the "Masaki Memorial Gallery," which was built in 1935 to honor Masaki's longtime services, are extant in the Ueno campus. The Masaki Memorial Gallery is a reinforced concrete building that has the Shoin-zukuri architecture with Japanese-style rooms. A fusuma painting by Gaho Hashimoto, which was created for a drawing room in the villa residence at Takinogawa, owned by Eiichi Shibusawa, and donated to the gallery, and an openwork carved wooden panel by Koun Takamura, which was donated from "Kokuga Club," a social club in the Japanese art circle, are also exhibited in the Japanese-style room.


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