Five-Clawed Red Dragon Painting by Tomo Katou

Five-clawed dragon on a Nine-Dragon Wall in Beihai Park, Beijing, China (Former Imperial Chinese palace and garden)

Five-clawed dragon on a Nine-Dragon Wall in Beihai Park, Beijing, China (Former Imperial Chinese palace and garden)

 

Dragons have been worshipped since ancient times because they are believed to be an incarnation of god and Buddha.
There are various types of dragons but a five-clawed dragon is exceptional among them all.
It represents power and authority. In ancient China, the dragon became the symbol of the imperial ruler.
Only the emperor could use five-clawed dragon motif.
The sacred orb, which is in the strong grip of the dragon, is said to make any dreams come true and bring you good luck.
The fierce dragon is believed to swipe away the pain and suffering.

 

 

New Work by Tomo Katou Five-Clawed Red Dragon

five-clawed dragon

This is the “Five-Clawed Red Dragon” by Tomo Katou, who had joined the panel of the Nitten Exhibition several times.
One of his master, Gensou Okuda (1912-2003)was one of the most renowned Japanese-style painters in the Showa Era.
He was skilled at using the red pigment and it was called “Gensou Red” after his name while Kaii Higashiyama (1908-1999), a contemporary of Gensou, was renowned for “Higashiyama Blue”.
There are strong ties between Tomo Katou and Gensou Okuda.
In the beginning, they were both disciples of Kibou Kodama(1898-1971).
Gensou was the first disciple and Tomo was the last.
After early death of Kibou, Gensou paid much attention to Tomo and took really good care of him instead of the master.

 

Originally, Red Dragon was a representative painting of Tomo’s master, Gensou and there is a remarkable story about this work. Now,“Red Dragon” by Gensou is on a ceiling in the Daishouin Temple, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
This work is dedicated to Gensou’s first wife, Tatsuko (literally “dragon’s child”) who had passed away before Gensou.
Inspired by her name, he painted the Red Dragon for the 7th memorial of her death in 1981 and gave it as an offering to Buddha to Mr. Washio, who was the chief priest of the Daishouin at the time. Tatsuko was a great-aunt of Mr. Washio. That is why the painting was set in this temple.

Around the Red Dragon, Gensou’s disciples painted flowers together.
Tomo Katou was one of them and he depicted the peony, poppy and white magnolia.
Tomo Katou still has a strong attachment to the Red Dragon due to his close relationship with Gensou Okuda.

 

The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011 and the dark mood descended all over Japan.
The coming year, 2012 was the year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology, which was the first year of the Dragon after Gensou Okuda’s death. (In Japan, we use 12 animal signs of Chinese astrology on a daily basis. e.g. I was born in the year of the Dog.)
Tomo Katou determined to paint a red dragon like Gensou’s, praying that his red dragon will ward off depressed mood and anxiety in Japan with its fiery red color.

 

First presentation of his “Red Dragon” at the exhibition. (2012)

 

Afterwards, Red Dragon became his favorite art motif and now it has become a masterpiece.
What makes this new art work special is that the dragon depicted here has five claws.
This artwork is unique and rare since Tomo Katou usually depicts the four-clawed dragons.
We do not often see five clawed dragons in Japan.
Tomo is always challenging himself for something new and better and that never stops.
For more information on this artwork, please refer to the following page :

 

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 The Japanese people have long set a high value on aesthetic senses since ancient times. As a result, the
peculiar culture which is not seen in other countries blossomed and many aspects of the modern Japanese
culture come from it. Parts of Japanese culture has been introduced to people in other countries recently,
so the number of people from other countries who are interested in Japanese culture has been increasing.
However, the Japanese aesthetic senses, which are the bases of Japanese culture, have been nurtured
through a long history, intertwining various elements intricately, such as climate, geographical features,
religion, customs and so on. Therefore, they are very difficult to understand not only for people from other
countries, but even for the Japanese people. I think the best tool which conveys these difficult senses
understandably is a “kakejiku.”
 The kakejiku (a hanging scroll; a work of calligraphy or a painting which is mounted and hung in an
alcove or on a wall) is a traditional Japanese art. It's no exaggeration to say that paintings are what
express aesthetic senses at all times and places. The kakejiku is an art which expresses the Japanese
aesthetic senses. The kakejiku has long been used in traditional Japanese events, daily life and so on since
ancient times. As a result, there are various customs of kakejiku in Japan; kakejiku and the life of the
Japanese are closely related. We can see Japanese values through kakejiku.
 The kakejiku is a cultural tradition which the Japanese people should be proud of. However, many people
in other countries don't know much about it because it hasn't been showcased as much. This is why I
decided to try to introduce it. The kakejiku world is very interesting and beautiful. We want not only the
Japanese, but also many people from other countries to know and enjoy it. I hope that many people will
love kakejiku someday.

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Name Art Nomura


President Tatsuji Nomura


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Address7-23 Babadori, Tarumi-ku, Kobe city,
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 Art Nomura is an art dealer which produces kakejiku (hanging scrolls). We mount many paintings and calligraphic works in kakejiku in my factory. Kakejiku are our main product. We also remount and repair old or damaged kakejiku. We share the traditional Japanese art of kakejiku with people all over the world.



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 The Japanese people have long set a high value on aesthetic senses since ancient times. As a result, the
peculiar culture which is not seen in other countries blossomed and many aspects of the modern Japanese
culture come from it. Parts of Japanese culture has been introduced to people in other countries recently,
so the number of people from other countries who are interested in Japanese culture has been increasing.
However, the Japanese aesthetic senses, which are the bases of Japanese culture, have been nurtured
through a long history, intertwining various elements intricately, such as climate, geographical features,
religion, customs and so on. Therefore, they are very difficult to understand not only for people from other
countries, but even for the Japanese people. I think the best tool which conveys these difficult senses
understandably is a “kakejiku.”
 The kakejiku (a hanging scroll; a work of calligraphy or a painting which is mounted and hung in an
alcove or on a wall) is a traditional Japanese art. It's no exaggeration to say that paintings are what
express aesthetic senses at all times and places. The kakejiku is an art which expresses the Japanese
aesthetic senses. The kakejiku has long been used in traditional Japanese events, daily life and so on since
ancient times. As a result, there are various customs of kakejiku in Japan; kakejiku and the life of the
Japanese are closely related. We can see Japanese values through kakejiku.
 The kakejiku is a cultural tradition which the Japanese people should be proud of. However, many people
in other countries don't know much about it because it hasn't been showcased as much. This is why I
decided to try to introduce it. The kakejiku world is very interesting and beautiful. We want not only the
Japanese, but also many people from other countries to know and enjoy it. I hope that many people will
love kakejiku someday.

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