December 17, 2005

by Yuko Okada

(Hashimoto Kansetsu Museum)

Hakusasonsô, located just a short distance west of the famous Ginkakuji Temple, was made in 1916 by the artist Hashimoto Kansetsu (1883-1945). Hakusasonsô is his house, and the surrounding garden, which is based on the Japanese artist’s sense of beauty, is an officially-designated scenic zone. Mt. Daimonji to the east and Mt. Hiei to the northeast are used as background space in this exquisite garden. Not only the garden but also the buildings are designed by Kansetsu. You will find many stones arranged in the site; these are from his lifelong collection.

Do you know who Hashimoto Kansetsu was?

Hashimoto Kansetsu was born with the name Hashimoto Kanichi to a learned family in Kobe. His family was active in the study of Chinese classics and Confucianism, and there were many people who liked Chinese poems, tanka poetry, art and so on. This environment affected him a lot. Kansetsu showed an aptitude for a variety of fields, and when he was 15 years old, he decided to become an artist. He studied under Takeuchi Seihô (1864-1942), the leading figure in the Kyoto art community, and his name began to spread. Kansetsu aimed for a revival of the classics, criticizing the state of modern painting circles, and finally distancing himself from them. He was groping for a new form of Japanese art, which a new age was looking for. He worked hard in his search for this art, both in the East and the West, traveling to China and Europe many times, and finally established himself by creating a new genre of painting called shin-nanga. Kansetsu’s paintings of animals are considered masterpieces because the creatures depicted in them seem so vibrantly alive.


This is a studio for painting big works. From inside, we can see the garden well.


This house was used when Kansetsu considered his compositions. The house projects into the pond.


This is a characteristic gate: it has a mossy thatched roof.


This teahouse, which Kansetsu built for his wife Yone, has an open atmosphere.

Kansetsu once wrote:

Stones and trees, all are alive. As soon as I see them, I should decide where I’ll place them. That’s my belief. When I feel that I’ll draw or paint this as soon as it is caught in my sight, the work has already been done.
He designed all of Hakusasonsô himself. There, we can enjoy the revolving of the four seasons: the cherry blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, red leaves in autumn, the snow or silence in winter. How about enjoying Kansetsu’s world and spending your time slowly here in this quiet haven?


Via Kyoto city bus
Take city bus 17 from the A2 bus stop at Kyoto Station. Get off at the “Ginkakuji-michi” bus stop, and walk east along Imadegawa Street (about 5 min.).Hakusasonso can be found on the south side, to your right.


Open 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Fees Adults: 800 yen
Students: 500 yen

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