Originally born into a samurai family with the surname Tōdō, she was adopted at a young age by the Ōtagaki family. She was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle from age 7 to 16, when she was married. However, her husband died in 1823. Ōtagaki joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu ("Lotus Moon") as her Buddhist name. She remained at the Chion-in for nearly ten years, and lived in a number of other temples for the following three decades, until 1865, when she settled at the Jinkō-in where she lived out the rest of her life.
Though best known as a waka poet, Rengetsu was also accomplished at dance, sewing, some of the martial arts, and Japanese tea ceremony. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in her life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai. A number of Tessai's works, though painted by him, feature calligraphy by Rengetsu.
The Contemplative Scholars: Sylvan Barnet and William Burto Have Gathered an Extraordinary Collection of Japanese Works Encompassing Scrolls, Ceramics and Contemporary Art. They Talk to Apollo about the Spirit of Calligraphy and the Evolution of Their Collection-And Why They Are Giving It Away
Nov 01, 2012; Behind the wooden facade of a pretty 19th-century villa in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an unlikely scene unfolds. 'The cleaner...