Chinami Nakajima ‘Spring Evening: Weeping Cherry Tree in Miharu’ 1998


Chinami Nakajima・中島千波

Known For: Easily one of the most prolific Japanese Nihonga masters of our time, Chinami Nakajima’s vast body of works contain every motif from blossoming trees, figurative works, mountains and landscapes, and even children's toys. However, he is inarguably most recognized for his masterful compositions of sakura - so much so in fact that in Japan he is often referred to by his nickname as ‘Sakura no Chinami,’ or, ‘Chinami of the Sakura Blossoms.’ 

Permanent Collections:

Sato Sakura Museum - Naka Meguro, Tokyo Japan・( 郷さくら美術館 - 東京都目黒区 )

Obuse Museum - Chinami Nakajima Hall - Nagano Prefecture, Japan・( おぶせミュージャム・中島千波館 - 長野県 )

Koyasan Kongobu-Ji Temple - Wakayama Prefecture, Japan・( 高野山金剛峰寺 - 和歌山県 )

Taima Dera Temple - Nara Prefecture, Japan・( 當麻寺 - 奈良県 )


Chinami Nakajima was born in 1945 (Showa 20) as the third son of Nihonga artist Kiyoshi Nakajima in the town of Obuse, Nagano prefecture, where many had evacuated to during that time.  In 1969, while attending graduate school at Tokyo University of the Arts, Nakajima submitted his work for the first time to the 54th Inten exhibiton , and was selected to exhibit.  He completed his graduate studies at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1971, thereafter participating in numerous public exhibitions and receiving many awards.  In 1992, he was able to realize the completion of the Obuse Museum Chinami Nakajima Hall in his hometown of Obuse, Nagano, and in 2006, he was recognized as an honorable citizen of Obuse.  In 1984, he participated in the formation of Yoko no Kai — a joint effort founded with the goal of exhibiting freely from the constraints of organizations — where he would go on to present his works for a decade.  He became an associate professor at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1994, and from 2000-2013, he fostered the next generation of artists in his role as professor.  Since retiring from his post as a professor, he has been named a professor emeritus. In addition, he has worked on the theatrical curtains installed at the Shin Kabuki-za theater in Ginza and the ceiling mural at Fukagawafudou-dou, presenting his work through a number of avenues.  In addition to his life work spent depicting sakura, flower, figures, and toys, he currently incorporates a number of fresh motifs into his paintings.

In 1983, Nakajima began his study of sakura in earnest with the desire to preserve the greatest trees in Japan as art - similar to portraiture - so that they could be enjoyed for eternity. To capture the beauty and form of his motifs, Nakajima both sketches the trees during the spring when they are bursting with colourful blossoms, and during the winter when they are bare, so that he can convey the natural beauty and elegant lines of the trunk and branches. This unique philosophy of ruminating not only on flower petals - as is common in Japanese art - but also on the trunk, branches, and all aspects of the tree, truly establish Nakajima’s sakura paintings into an echelon all their own.

Art without feeling is hollow and uninteresting and I feel this is one of the great difficulties of painting. True emotion in one’s art is not an inherent skill, but must be fostered over time - with slowness, intention, persistence, and with passion.
— Chinami Nakajima