- Urakami Gyokudô (1745–1820) was a member of Japan’s samurai* class who lived in the late Edo period. He was also a musician, poet, calligrapher and uniquely creative painter. The German architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938) praised his ink paintings with the comments, “Comparable to Van Gogh” and “A predecessor to European Impressionism.” Japan’s first Nobel Laureate for Literature, Kawabata Yasunari (1899–1972) was the proud owner of Gyokudô’s masterpiece Frozen Clouds, Sifted Snow, today designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government. This website introduces the history of the Urakami family, focusing on Gyokudô and his arts, his two sons Shunkin and Shûkin, along with the samurai history of the Urakami family from Japan’s Warring States period (15th–16th centuries) onwards.
*Samurai class: The term samurai refers to members of Japan’s historical military class. After the turbulence of the Warring States period, this military class centered on the shogun (supreme commander) and his daimyô (clan lords) became the de facto rulers of Edo period (1615–1868) Japan. Within this largely peaceful regime samurai acted as bureaucrats, courtiers, and administrators, rather than as warriors.