SOGA SHOHAKU (1730-1781)
SOGA SHOHAKU (1730-1781)

Six Immortals of Poetry (Rokkasen)

SOGA SHOHAKU (1730-1781)
Six Immortals of Poetry (Rokkasen)
Signed Jasokuken Shohaku ga, sealed Jasokuken Shohaku and Yuten
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
52 x 22 ¾ in. (132.1 x 57.8 cm.)
Shohaku Show (Kyoto: Kyoto National Museum, 2005). Plate 117.
"Shohaku Show", Kyoto National Museum, Kyoto, 12 April-15 May 2005


Takaaki Murakami (村上高明)
Takaaki Murakami (村上高明) Vice President, Specialist and Head of Department | Korean Art




The Rokkasen (Six Immortals of Poetry) are six Japanese poets of the mid-ninth century who were named by Ki no Tsurayuki in the introduction to the poetry anthology Kokin Wakashu (c. 905) as notable poets of the generation before its compiler. They are: Otomo no Kuronushi, Ono no Komachi, Ariwara no Narihira, the monk Kisen, Bishop Sojo and Fun'ya no Yasuhide.
Very little is known of Shohaku’s biography, but he is thought to have been from a merchant family in Kyoto and he died at the age of fifty-two. He is described as very odd and bohemian in his behavior, a madman, frequently drunk and generally disrespectful of authority. However, he may have secretly delighted in playing the misfit. His work fell out of favor in Japan but was rediscovered and appreciated at the end of the nineteenth century by Americans living in Japan such as William Sturgis Bigelow.

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