The love of nature runs through all of Japanese art and literature, and for the painter and poet it is the passing of the seasons that evokes the strongest emotions. When the witty tenth-century court lady Sei Shonagon wrote her Pillow Book, a wonderful compilation of anecdotes and observations, she listed the following under the heading "Things That Do Not Linger for a Moment":
A boat with hoisted sails.
The Four Seasons.
The seasons are by no means of equal interest, however. Summer in Japan is uncomfortably hot and muggy, and winter is dreary and cold. Spring, represented here by a camellia and fern shoots, and autumn are traditionally the most meaningful.
Kiitsu is a master of puddled ink, or tarashikomi, which he uses to create a sensuous texture in the leaves and tree trunk.
1. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, trans. and ed. Ivan Morris (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 210.