Penki-e means “wall paint”, the mural you can find in the sento.
The first Fuji mural has been drawn in Tokyo, Kikai-yuキカイ湯 in Kandasarugakuchou in 1912 by Kawagoe Koshiro川越広四郎 to entertain the young customers while they were taking their bath. As a powerful emblem for Japanese people the most painted subject is Fuji-san, but you can also found Japanese countryside landscape, mountains…
However there are some exceptions due to Japanese superstition, for instance you cannot paint red momiji because they fall during autumn or monkey, because “saru” 去る in Japanese means “to leave”.
The painters are called “yokujo-haikeiga-eshi” 浴場背景画絵師 or “penki-eshi” ペンキ絵師 and only 3 remains in Tokyo nowadays, to perform this unique job in Tokyo.
Kiyoto Maruyama 丸山清人was born in1935 in Tokyo. He was working at “Haikeikokusha”, an advertising Japanese company specialized in sento. When he turned 45 he started as a free-lance painter .
Maruyama san official web site: http://japan-fujiyama.com/
Morio Nakajima 中島盛夫was born in 1945 in Fukushima. He learned the craftsmanship from Kikuo Maruyama, Maruyama Kiyoto’s uncle, who also was the director of “Haikeikokusha”. He was the first to think to use a paint roller instead of the traditional brush to realize the penki-e. Until now he drew more than 5000 Fuji-san.
Nakajima san official web site: http://morionakajima.com/
Mizuki Tanaka田中みずき was born in 1983 in Osaka. At the university she wrote an essay about penki-e, at his occasion she met Nakajima-san and wished to learn how to paint from him. At first he refused to teach his way to draw penki-e but she persevered and started to help Nakajima-san to prepare the tools and clean. For several years she only painted the blue part of the sky, the ninth year she finally started to realize full penki-e.
Mizuki Tanaka san official web site:http://mizu111.blog40.fc2.com/
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