Using traditional techniques to capture the essence of nature in your mind’s eye

To paint Nihonga, or Japanese-style paintings, is to observe and capture the essence of the landscape, flora, and fauna that unfold in front of your eyes, to express its beauty using traditional Japanese-style painting techniques.The Kyoto Seika campus is filled with greenery, animals, and the changing seasons, making it the perfect environment for Nihonga.A course  in Japanese Painting also provides opportunities to grow plants and care for animals, which may not be obvious but are nonetheless essential to fostering a sensitivity for Japanese painting and respect for the sanctity of life.Students learn to grasp the essence of their subjects by spending time with and repeatedly drawing them to get a sense of what lies inside.Under the careful guidance of the course faculty, students acquire theory and technique with the ultimate aim of developing a unique artistic style.

Subject Highlights

  • Hone your senses and see the beauty in nature by growing plants and tending to animals.

    [Studio Art / Year 2]
    Respect for life and an attitude of learning from nature are fundamental to Japanese painting.In order to hone these sensitivities, we provide students with opportunities to grow plants and flowers from seeds and to raise quail from their eggs.Students will also learn about Japanese painting materials such as nikawa, an animal glue mainly used as an adhesive for pigment, and gofun chalk made from seashells.

  • Master the descriptive and compositional nature of Japanese paintings both in theory and in practice.

    [Advanced Studio Art / Year 3]
    Students paint landscapes to master techniques in Japanese painting, such as shading and perspective.Students are also encouraged to think about what they are drawing and why to equip them with the ability to create their own unique works of art.Moreover, we also provide opportunities to develop compositional skills through collage.

What You Will Study

  1. 1STYEAR

    Laying a solid artistic and creative foundation

    Students take common subjects at the Faculty of Art to improve their observational skills, critical thinking, imagination, and other skills needed to build a firm artistic and creative foundation.They also learn the basics across all seven courses and explore different fields they may want to pursue.

  2. 2NDYEAR

    Acquiring basic drawing skills

    Students sketch plants to master the use of traditional materials and learn the steps in the production process, namely sketching, tracing, and drafting, before transferring their images to the final painting.Students also do live sketches of animals and copies of other Japanese-style paintings.

  3. 3RDYEAR

    Improving observational and aesthetic drawing abilities

    Students develop their observational and drawing skills by spending time with plants and animals and drawing them repeatedly.In addition to drawing living things and the movement of people and animals, students will examine and scrutinize the intention behind their work to settle on a theme of their own.

  4. 4THYEAR

    Pursuing self-expression

    Students engage in their graduation work, making full use of the skills and expressive vocabulary they have developed over the past four years of study.They complete the last work of their student careers in the pursuit of unique expression and originality.

What You Will Learn

  • Creativity stimulated by a liberating environment
  • The ability to handle materials unique to Japanese painting
  • The ability to bring out the hidden essence within their subject

Selected Artwork


The school building that houses the Course in Japanese Painting is often used as a movie set.


  • The lab is spacious enough to have both large sketches and the final painting next to each other.

  • The Japanese Deer Park, where deer are bred for sketching.


Art careers
Japanese painter, conservator-restorer, craft artist, game designer, and many more.

Major Employers
Traditional art studios, museums, video game companies, design offices, educational institutions, and many more.


  • TAKAHASHI Shohei Current Student

    I want to convey the vitality of nature through my paintings.

    The reason I decided to pursue Nihonga was a collection of Japanese paintings that my art teacher showed me when I was in high school.I was so impressed by its color palette that I wanted to try to create such colors myself.After visiting several different universities, I was inspired by the rich natural environment at Kyoto Seika University, its large production spaces, and the non-conformist style of the students. That’s why I decided to apply here.The best thing about the Course in Japanese Painting is that I’ve met teachers that I really respect.As Nihonga painters, their feedback on my work always gives me new insights into composition and my use of color.When I first started, it was difficult for me to use Nihonga materials, and it took me quite a while to get used to them.But over time, I’ve been able to produce the colors I want in my paintings thanks to daily assignments and entries into public exhibitions.During the four years that I spent in dialogue with my art, I grew to love painting even more, and my desire to become a painter has only grown stronger.I am currently using ordinary plants as motifs to depict the vitality that permeates all of nature in the hopes ofcreating works that move people and inspire them to have compassion for nature.After graduation, I would like to focus on my career as an artist while supporting the next generation of Nihonga artists by providing wood panels for painting, which are easy for me to come by thanks to my family connection with the carpentry industry.
  • KONISHI Michihiro Academic Faculty

    Nihonga: a process of time and effort to distill the essence of things.

    Japanese painting is an exercise in patience,even in preparing the materials needed to paint. First, you must crush stones into powders and carefully add amounts of nikawa glue to form pigments. These are ancient techniques that have been used for a thousand years.The process requires a lot of water and needs to be given time to dry.If you try to rush the process, you won't get the materials needed to draw your picture,and as such, the Nihonga technique takes a lot of time and effort.But we believe that this process is what gives our work its breadth and depth.By deliberately taking this extra time, you can pass your feelings toward an object through your own personal filter, distilling its essence in the process.And this is one of the very aspects of the human condition that we are losing in the age of convenience.I believe that art has the power to change the world.And I think that art is the process of discovering new value by shining a light on something from a different angle.As an artist, I'm always conscious of taking on new challenges. When doing so, it’s crucial to observe and investigate my surroundings, persevere in giving shape to my work, and engage with other people lest my efforts become self-serving.The skills you develop in the Course in Japanese Painting will serve you well after graduation, so I invite you to come study here with us.