Reference Books and Resources

English Books

Lotus Moon: The Poetry of Rengetsu. John Stevens, White Pine Press, 2005. ISBN 1-893996-3-60

Black Robe, White Mist: Art of the Japanese Buddhist Nun Rengetsu. National Gallery of Australia, 2005. Fully illustrated in color exhibition catalog.  Includes two articles by John Stevens. Some problems with misinformation, mistranslation, inclusion of imitations, and the like but as editor Melanie Eastburn correctly notes this is always the case with a pioneering study.   ISBN 0642541390


“Waka Poet-Painters in Kyoto,”  chapter nine in Japanese Woman Artists 1600-1900 by Patricia Fister, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1988. The chapter covers the work of Takabatake Shikibu and Otagaki Rengetsu.

“Looking Back; Otagaki Rengetsu,” an article (pp.15-21) by Pat Fister in the summer  1987 issue of  Calligraphy Exchange.

“LOTUS MOON: The art of the Buddhist nun Rengetsu,” an article (pp.89-96) by John Stevens appearing in the 1987 September-October issue of Arts of Asia. High quality  illustrations.

Ceramic Conversations in the Art of Otagaki Rengetsu,” an article by Sandra Sheckter  (pp.94-98) appearing in the September 2007 issue of Orientations.

Otagaki Rengetsu” a chapter (pp.173-186 ) in the book The Way of Shikishima, Roger K. Thomas, University Press of America, Inc.,  2008. A study of Rengetsu’s poetry. ISBN 0-7618-3980-1

Japanese Books

primary sources

Rengetsu-ni Zenshu (Zoho)  蓮月尼全集増補 The Complete Works of the Nun Rengetsu (revised edition), edited by Murakama  Sodo, Shibunkaku, 1980. The standard reference on Rengetsu containing hundreds of pages on her life and art plus many of her letters. First published in 1927. Some of the information was gathered from people who knew Rengetsu first hand. The editor Murakama Sodo was a Soto-shu Zen priest and scholar.

Rengetsu 蓮月 Korezawa Kyozo et al., Kodansha, 1971. The book contains 260 high quality illustrations of Rengetsu’s brushwork and pottery, some in color.  There are  interesting articles on Rengetsu’s life and thought, her pottery, her calligraphy, her poetry, and her final years by various authorities.

Otakagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月 edited by Tokuda Koen, Kodansha, 1982. Another  beautiful, large-scale book with many excellent photographs of Rengetu’s art in color and black and white. There is some overlap with the illustrations in the book mentioned above. Tokuda Koen was head priest of Jinko-in, the temple where Rengetsu spent the last years of her life. Koen, who died a few years ago, was the chief authenticator of Rengetsu’s artwork in modern times.

Zoho Rengetsu Kashu 増補 蓮月歌集  (Rengetsu’s Collected Poems, revised edition) by Makino Ichihei, Ikezen Shoten, 1923.

Rengetsu 蓮月 by Maeda Ketsuko,Tankosha, 1979. A careful study of Rengetsu’s life and art.

Otagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月 by Sugimoto Hidetaro  Ozawa Shoten, 1982. Another interesting study of Rengetsu’s life, especially her relationship with Tomioka Tessai.

Otagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月 by Naruse Keiko, Dobunkan, 1943. Concerned mostly with Rengetsu’s life and poetry.

Rengetsu 蓮月 by Omi Manko, Daito Shuppan-sha, 1943. Includes information on Rengetsu’s involvement with the main players behind the Meiji Resoration of 1868.

Rengetsu 蓮月 by Terai Minako. Shakai,  Hyoron-sha, 2004. A modern biography of Rengetsu.

Rengetsu to Komachi to Naichingeru  蓮月と小町とナイチンゲール (Rengetsu, Komachi, and Nightingale)  by Murata Taihei, Kobunsha, 1933. An intriguing study of Rengetsu, the 9th century poet and playgirl Ono no Komachi, and Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing.

Teishin to Chiyo to Rengetsu 貞心と千代と蓮月 (Teishin, Chiyo, and Rengetsu)  by Soma Gyofu, Shunju-sha, 1939. A study of the three nun poets Teishin, Chiyo and Rengetsu by the well-known 20th century male poet Soma Gyofu.

Mushi no Nihonjin 無私の日本人 (Selfless Japanese) by Isoda Michifumi, Bungeishunju, 2012.  A study of Karadaya Juzaburo, Nakane Tori, and Otagaki Rengetsu, three Japanese who worked selflessly for others during their life times.

Catalogs of Rengetsu’s Art Works

Rengetsu 蓮月 Kyoto-shoin, n.d.

Rengetsu-ni 蓮月尼 (The Nun Rengetsu), Bokubi No. 103, 109, 1961.

Tokushu Rengetsu 特集蓮月 (Special issue on Rengetsu), Bi to Kogei, No. 160. 1970.

Tokushu Rengetsu-ni 特集蓮月尼 (Special issue on the nun Rengetsu). Sumi No. 44, 1983, September issue.

Otagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月Kyoto Furitsu Sogo Shirokan, 1984.

Rengetsu Ibo 蓮月遺芳 (Artworks by Rengetsu) , Hitsu Zen Kai, 1991.

Otagaki Rengetsu Ten 大田垣蓮月展 (Otagaki Rengetsu Exhibition), Shibunkaku, 1998

Rengetsu-Tessai Ten 蓮月鐵斎展 (Rengetsu-Tessai Exhibition) Shibunkaku, 2001.

Related web-site:

Site dedicated to Rengetsu items from the Kagetsu Collection, the largest collection of Rengetsu’s items in the United States.


Leave a Reply