Sōtatsu: Making Waves


Detail, Waves at Matsushima; Tawaraya Sōtatsu, (act. ca. 1600–40); pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold, and silver on paper; Freer Gallery of Art, F1906.231-232
Tawaraya Sōtatsu was one of the most innovative and imaginative artists of the 17th century, faded into near obscurity for the next two hundred years, and today is one of the most revered painters in the history of Japanese art. His remarkable story is recounted in Sōtatsu, a comprehensive and lavishly illustrated book featuring insightful essays by leading scholars from the United States and Japan. The artist’s life and craft are illuminated in this 368-page volume through a close examination of his contemporaries, his evolution as a master painter, and his increasing stature in Japan and the West, thanks in part to the efforts of collector Charles Lang Freer. With 308 black-and-white and color illustrations. Published by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition Sōtatsu: Making Waves (October 24, 2015–January 31, 2016).


  • Furuta Ryō, University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts
  • Yukio Lippit, Harvard University
  • Nakamachi Keiko, Jissen Women’s University
  • Noguchi Takeshi, Nezu Museum
  • Okudaira Shunroku, Osaka University
  • Ōta Aya, Sannomaru Shōzōkan, Museum of the Imperial Collections
  • James T. UlakFreer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Publication details

  • Title: Sōtatsu
  • Publisher: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
  • Publication date: October 2015
  • Format: Exhibition catalogue accompanying Sōtatsu: Making Waves (October 24, 2015–January 31, 2016)
  • Cloth edition distributed by Smithsonian Books/Random House
  • Cloth: 978-1-588345-07-3, $50.00
  • Paper: 978-0-934686-75-4, $40.00
  • 368 pages, including four 8-page gatefolds
  • 308 black-and-white and color images

Preview the book

Front Matter (PDF, 1.1MB)

  • Foreword | Julian Raby
  • Foreword | Andō Hiroyasu
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contributors
  • Note to the Reader and Maps


  • Introduction | James T. Ulak (PDF, 1.2MB)
  • Tawaraya Sōtatsu: Five Perspectives | Yukio Lippit
  • Sōtatsu’s Gold-and-Silver Paintings: The Interaction Between
  • Painting and Calligraphy | Okudaira Shunroku
  • Sōtatsu and Tōshichirō: The Floating Fans Screens in the Imperial Collections | Ōta Aya
  • Miraculous Waters: Expression and Meaning in the Waves at Matsushima | Nakamachi Keiko
  • A Garden View: The Origins of I’nen Seal Grass-and-Flower Paintings | Noguchi Takeshi
  • Charles Lang Freer and the “Discovery” of Sōtatsu | James T. Ulak (PDF, 3.3MB)
  • Sōtatsu in the 20th Century | Furuta Ryō


  • The Tawaraya
  • Classics
  • Artistic Dialogues
  • Legacy of Waves
  • Inkwork
  • The I’nen Garden
  • Rediscovery

Reference Material (PDF, 1.7MB)

  • Exhibition Checklist and Credits
  • Glossary
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index