Tosho Hitori Tanoshimu


Take a solitary pleasure with books

Calligraphy by Yamaoka Tesshu (June 10th 1836-July 19th 1888)
Works on paper and contemporary mounting on silk
ca. 1880-1888
122 x 41.5 cm (187 x 53.5 cm)

Yamaoka Tesshu, also known as Ono Tetsutaro or Tetsutaro Yamaoka, was a famous samurai of the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868) who played an important role in the Meiji Restoration. He was also the founder of the Itto Shoden Muto-ryu fencing school. After serving in the court of the Emperor for several years, while studying the art of kendo, he attained enlightenment on the morning of March 30th 1880 during a meditation session. From that moment, he devoted the rest of his life to a dojo dedicated to his fighting style, which was called “without sword”, the stage at which a samurai realizes that there is no enemy and that only purity of style is important. Yamaoka Tesshu is famous for his Zen paintings.

Tosho Hitori Tanoshimu means “Take a solitary pleasure with books”. This proverb comes from a poem by Zhen Shan Min, a Chinese scholar of the end of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Inscription on the box: “Sho Shi I Tesshu Yamaoka – Ichigyo” (“single stroke calligraphy by Yamaoka Tesshu of Fourth rank*”)
* A title conferred on Tesshu for his service to government