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Tradition of Oriental Landscape Paintings and Psychotherapy Today

Research Topic
Tradition of oriental landscape paintings and psychotherapy today

Lead Researcher
Yasuhiro Tanaka, Professor, Graduate School of Education, Kyoto University


1) Research Objective
The history of landscape, or landscape painting, reflects the unique consciousness of a people or culture (Tanaka, 2017b; Tanaka, 2021). Apart from Western landscape painting, which emerged around the 16th century, there is a tradition of landscape painting in the East from the 10th century, called “山水画” which entered Japan around the 12th century and was perfected by Sesshu Toyo (雪舟等楊,1420-1506), who is also known as the “Sage of painting.”


In this study, the following matters will be clarified; What kind of consciousness appears in “multiple perspective,” which is completely different from the “linear perspective” of Western landscape painting, and which was adopted in the Eastern landscape painting? What kind of consciousness emerged from the techniques of Eastern landscape painting and “multiple perspective?” Furthermore, what are the characteristics of Japanese landscape painting uniquely developed by Sesshu, and by extension, what are the characteristics of Japanese landscape? Also, what kind of “connotation” was realized in these paintings?


This research will also consider the historical transition of Japanese landscape. Discussions will be deepened on the following points: What aspect of our present-day Japanese kokoro is showing in a time when it can be said that the above-mentioned “connotation” has been lost? How can psychotherapy be involved in it? In this research, Sesshu’s landscape paintings will be especially focused on, in addition to the Sesshu-tei “gardens” that are said to have been made by Sesshu.


2) Expected Effects
Through Eastern landscape paintings and Zen gardens, discussing the nature of oriental psychology and psychotherapy, which are different from those originated in the West, allow us to consider in a concrete way the development of “Eastern wisdom” today. In addition, the Japanese landscape that we find there will be both old and new to us. Considering it, we will be able to confirm the foundation of our kokoro and have a vision for the future.