Japanese Wall Scrolls – Gallery and Selection Guide

Japanese Wall Scrolls


Traditional Japanese living rooms feature a set-back recess area called a Toko-No-Ma that usually features some kind of Japanese Wall Scroll and/or Ikebana flower arrangement (also see how article on Japanese decor). The scrolls traditionally feature calligraphy or artworks, most charactistially in the style of a sumi-e black ink.
Traditionally, these were one of a kind artworks, often by artists of renown.
Today, good quality representations can be found that achieve a similar effect at very reasonable price.

A typical Jinbei

Our Favorite Japanese Wall Scrolls

We’ll get into the nitty gritty of different types of Japanese Scrolls below but first of all let’s show you our favourite option for scrolls available online.These are custom scrolls produced by master calligrapher Eri Takase. We love that you can either choose one of the premade scrolls, or work with Takase-sensei to make your own. From Takase-Sensei’s Etsy Page:

“Master Takase creates this beautiful art when your order is placed. Personally preparing the ink and brushing your art that proudly bears her signature and seal. This is truly an original work of art.

The Japanese Scrolls (kakejiku) are special and we are very proud of them. We have worked with our scroll maker in Nara, Japan for more than a decade and these scrolls are exceptional. They have a light brown silk border, gold brocade highlights, and Japanese paper. These fine materials are layered so that when displayed the finished scroll hangs straight and will not warp over time. And the paper takes the ink just right so subtle brush strokes come out just as expected. This beautiful art is meant to last generations.”

The Japanese Wall Scroll Tradition

The Japanese wall scroll has a long history. It was introduced to Japan from China during the Asuka era (592 to 645). In China, these were widely seen as Buddhist imagery for ceremonies during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).
Japanese scrolls have a deep connection to Zen Buddhism. Hanging scrolls were introduced to Japan through the religion in the Kamakura period (1185–1333).
Introduced from China, Zen Buddhism spread Chinese-style architectural styles and art to Japan along with Buddhist teachings. The technique of ink painting also came in at this time.
Hanging scrolls were initially used for Buddhist rituals. They gradually evolved into an art form in their own right. Styles such as 花鳥画, kachouga “Flower and Bird Paintings”, and 山水画 sansuiga “Mountain and Water Paintings” were also produced.
The development and promulgation of the Japanese wall scroll is intertwined with the development of 水墨画 suibokuga ink painting.
When the tea room was created during the Muromachi period, the hanging scrolls became even more artistic in order to provide accent to the tatami mats on the floors. Sen no Rikyu, who pioneered the modern tea ceremony, also insisted on the importance of hanging scrolls.
From the Edo period to the Meiji and Taisho eras, Japanese scrolls were developed as highly refined interior items decorating various Japanese rooms.

Types of Japanese Scrolls

Japanese wall scrolls can be roughly divided into three types.

sho  “Calligraphy”  絵 e and “Pictures”, and “works that combine both calligraphy and pictures.”

書 “Calligraphy”

Calligraphy works include 漢詩 Kanshi Chinese poems, and Japanese poems in forms including 和歌 waka, 俳句 haiku. Works have been created by, warlords, aristocrats, and monks, as well as modern-day political and business people and poets.


Paintings include ink paintings, Japanese paintings, hand drawn ukiyo-e paintings, and Japanese paintings after the Meiji era.

Pictures that are a combination of calligraphy and painting are called 詩画軸 Shigajiku “poetry axis”. These are composed of calligraphy drawn on the upper part of the vertical and pictures drawn on the lower. These works combine Chinese poems, poems, haiku, to match the picture.

There are also hanging scrolls made in Korea, which are similarly influenced by Chinese culture.

日本画 nihonga Japanese painting

Although hanging scroll art is introduced from China, there are many works that have evolved uniquely in Japan, such as 美人画 Bijinga “Paintings of Beautiful People” and 花鳥画 kachouga “Flower and Bird Paintings”.

Japanese wall scrolls are said to have undergone a dramatic increase in value with the rise of the hand-painted Ukiyo-e of the Edo period. During the Meiji and Taisho eras, Japanese scrolls and Japanese paintings existed in a symbiotic relationship where each helped raise the value of the other.

These works are recognized for their high artistic value as antiques.

中国掛軸 chugoku kakejiku Chinese hanging scrolls

The hanging scrolls drawn and displayed by Chinese artists are sometimes called 中国掛軸 chugoku kakejiku.

仏画 Butsuga Buddhist Japanese Scrolls

There are various compositions and types of Buddhist paintings. Motifs include 曼荼羅 mandala, 来迎図 raigouzu which depict the coming of the Amida Buddha, 六道絵 Rokudou-e which depict the six buddhist realms, and 高僧 Koso portraits of high priests.

水墨画 Sansuiga Ink paintings

The 山水 Sansui landscape painting, came to Japan from China along with the idea of Zen and became popular along with the new philosophies..


These ink paintings, also called sumi-e, are characterized by delicate and bold expressions using techniques such as “blurring” and “shading”.

花鳥画 Kachoga Flower and bird painting

Japanese Wall Scroll Buying Options

If you are after a Japanese Scroll, your options are for purchasing a scroll are:

  • Prints and Reproductions
  • Custom Made
  • Antiques


Prints and Reproductions

You can see a list of reproductions available on Amazon here

Custom & Hand Made

You can see a list of handmade scrolls on Etsy here



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ホテル・カリフォルニアはこんな意味だったの?!Hotel California和訳、意味、解釈 

ホテル・カリフォルニアは短編映画のような歌です。いろんな情景をものすごい細かさで描写する。砂漠でかく汗の匂い、髪の毛に絡む涼しい風、どこか遠くの方でまたたいている光。 よく何かを書くとき「show don’t tell」「描きなさい。伝えない。」 たとえば、「砂漠が熱かった」ではなく「高速道路で汗をかいていた」といった方が身近に感じられて、迫力が出る。ホテルカリフォルニアは見事にこういう風に「言葉」で伝えずに、「五感」で表す歌です。 ホテル・カリフォルニアの解釈 はっきりと「こんな事がありましたよ」と言わないおかげで素晴らしい描写になりますが、そのせいでいろんな解釈されます。 そのいろんな解釈を話していきたいと思いますが、歌詞を書いたDon Henley本人がいうには基本的な意味は”A journey from innocense to experience”「「無邪気」から「経験」への旅」だと言っています。 当時イーグルズはものすごく売れているバンドだったから本人たちは「その時俺たちは何でも出来ていた(許されていました)から何でも試してた」と言っていました。ようするに 世の中を知らない青年からいろんな経験を積んだ大人に変わりつつありました。 「経験」にはいろんな事が含まれていると思います。 ホテルカリフォルニアはよく「麻薬」「中毒」についての歌だと主張する人がいますが、この曲はいろんな「経験」についての歌だと思います。もちろん「麻薬・中毒」ありますが「愛」「性」「成功」「強欲」「欲望」「うぬぼれ」などの「経験」も一杯包まれています。 ホテル・カリフォルニアというホテルは実際存在したか 舞台はロサンゼルスになっています。ホテルカリフォルニアというホテルは実際に存在しません。アルバムジャケットに写っているのは「Beverley Hills Hotel」です。御存知の通り、Beverley Hillsはハリウッドの近くにある有名人、芸能人が一杯群がる地域であります。だから、その辺の人の「快楽主義」を描き、社会的な意味合いもあります。 イーグルズも当時「ホテルの部屋をぶっ壊してめちゃくちゃにしてしまうバンド」として有名です。 だから、「快楽主義」の象徴である「ホテル」を歌ににしたのはなんとなく相応しいかもしれません。

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In preparing this article we referred to the Japanese website Antique Kaitori (in Japanese)

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Hi, I’m Peter.  I lived in Japan for four years as a University student completing a Masters Degree in Musicology.  I have succesfully completed the  highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N1).  have toured the country six times playing music and singing songs in Japanese and English.