The Japan Art Institute [Nihon Bijutsuin 日本美術院] By Kazuhara, Eve Loh
The Japan Art Institute was a Japanese art institute focused on the teaching, research, and exhibition of Nihonga-style art, established by Okakura Tenshin in 1898. Tenshin, who left the Tokyo School of Fine Arts the same year, brought along with him notable artists like Hashimoto Gahô [橋本雅邦], Yokoyama Taikan [横山大観], Hishida Shunso [菱田春草], and Shimomura Kanzan [下村観山]. In the initial years, the Institute received substantial funding from William S. Bigelow, a wealthy doctor from Boston who was a colleague of Tenshin’s. The Institute set out to focus on research, production, and exhibition. Two sections were set up in order to achieve this—the first section was in charge of production of painting and crafts, while the second was preoccupied with preservation and conservation technology. It was the first section that endeavored to create a new style of Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) in accordance with Tenshin’s ideals. In the years following 1906, the Institute ran into financial difficulties and, with its main members away in foreign countries, it entered a period of hiatus.