木下靜涯 (1887-1988), founder of Taipei 黑壺會 and resident 画伯painter of Danshui, was known affectionately to Danshui-ren as the "Mr 木下 who lives under the tree 木下" - a play on his surname. This tree, a 苦楝樹 [China tree/berry], still stands proudly in front of his house [at the old address: 三層厝 No 26]. It can be seen from 三角窗 on Chung Cheng Road where Dr George Leslie Mackay’s statue now stands.
Of the many Japanese immigrants who settled in Danshui, the story of 木下靜涯Kinoshita Seigai is a unique one. In fact, his association with Danshui was purely accidental.
In the December of 1918, Mr Kinoshita was traveling with some artist friends to India and stopped over in Taiwan when one of them became ill. Mr Kinoshita volunteered to stay behind and care for the friend. He soon ran out of funds and could not afford to return to Japan. While continued painting in Taiwan, he also went to Danshui and visited 公會堂, where many artists met, painted, and held exhibitions. Mr Kinoshita quickly fell in love with the beauty of Danshui and decided in 1923 to stay and conducted paining classes for the locals. He later was joined by his family and became active in the art world of Taiwan.
Mr Kinoshita specialized in 東洋畫 (known as 膠彩畫) who often painted the rainy scenes of Danshui. The painting above shows a Danshui-ren in the traditional rain gear with Guan-yin Mountain looming in the far background. He was well known for his 日盛 - six-paneled Japanese screens as well as the southern-school 山水 and 花鳥 paintings.
He taught water-color and black-ink painting for 24 years until he was repatriated in 1946, together with all of his fellow immigrants, back to Japan. He chose to stay low-keyed for the rest of his life and lived out his remaining days in 北九州市Kitakyushu-shi, the northern-most district of Fukuoka-ken.
Mr Kinoshita's last words were: 好日好日又好日 [Day after day, again a good day], a man apparently at peace with himself and the world.