Kawabata Ryushi

Ryushi Kawabata Exhibition

~ “The Image of Body in his Painting” :  21 December 2019 - 22 March 2020

Ryushi Kawabata (1885-1966) was a prominent Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) artist and well- known for bold, vibrant, and lively expressions. He stood out in the mainstream conventional art world at that time where delicate and dense expression was dominant.

Have you seen the ceiling painting of the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa? The ceiling portrays various celestial scenes of Buddhism. A nymph is pictured swirling among cherry blossoms and a dragon curls its tail against a water-colored sky.  Perfectly framed amongst that bright red wooden ceiling. The dragon was painted by Ryushi Kawabata.

Ryushi originally studied Western-style painting in the US but switched to Nihonga after being impressed by the Japanese works at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  In his twenties, he mastered a journalistic approach to social conditions through his experience of presenting illustrations for newspapers and magazines.  Some of his pictures are based on an episode from Japanese mythology and Buddhism. 

Critical of the strict Nihonga conventions that restricted expression, Ryushi established his own Nihonga organization, Seiryusha, in 1929 to present forceful, large-scale paintings, which combined bold ideas and colors.  

Wild Grapes

 This exhibition outlines Ryushi’s career and includes 14 paintings featuring Ryushi’s human body expression that was inspired by Buddhist art. Ryushi Garden Guided Tour is available to visit his studio (atelier) and garden.


Address:  4-2-1 Chuo, Ota-ku, Tokyo

Telephone: 03-5777-8600

Open:  9:30 – 16:30 (entrance closes at 16:00), 

Closed on Mondays

Admission:  Adult 200 yen, Minors 100 yen

From JR Omori Station, West Exit, take Tokyu Bus No.4 towards Ebarmachi Sta. Entrance, get off at Usuda-Sakashita bus stop and walk 2 min.