The 1st gen. Sekibun (赤文) – his first name was „Shōzō“ (正蔵) –
was born in the village of Murakami (村上), in Echigo province, on the
third day of the third month of Kansei two (1790) as the second son of a
certain kinkō artist called Unken“ (雲軒). It is said that the family name
was first just „Katsura“ (桂). Already in his youth he went to Edo to
study under the Hamano school but his master is unknown. In between
he also refined his craft in Kyōto. He alludes on that with his gō
„Yūrakusai“ (遊洛斎) because „yūraku“ (遊洛) means „journey to
Kyōto“ or „study trip to Kyōto“. In the seventh year of Bunsei (1824),
when he was 35 years old, Sekibun was hired by the Sakai family as a
craftsman of the Shōnai fief but did not settled there in Tsurugaoka
before he was 56 (in the second year of Kōka, 1845). For his signatures
in grass script he even took lessons from the Echigo calligrapher
Kameda Bōsai (亀田鵬斎, 1752-1826). But the various interpretations
of the hard-to-read signatures of his gō „Yūrakusai“ resulted in different
meikan entries. Other pseudonyms of Sekibun were „Tōō“ (東翁) and
„Tōbō“ (東鵬), and often he added the suffix „Sanjin“ (山人) or
„Rōjin“ (老人) to the name „Sekibun“. He was well versed in various
styles and techniques and trained many students. He died on the 14th
day of the first month of Meiji eight (1875) at the age of 86.
nd gen. Sekibun was born on the first day of the eleventh
month of Tenpō nine (1838) when his father,*94 the 1st gen., was in Edo.
He accompanied his father to Shōnai and took over there the school as
second generation Sekibun. Before, he signed with the name „Bunju“
(文寿) and besides „Yūrakusai“ also used later the gō „Keigetsudō“
(桂月堂). He had no sons and so he adopted in Meiji nine (1876) – the
year the ban on swords was passed – the son of his student Honma
Aritake (本間有武), whose craftsman name was „Masatoshi“ (政寿).
Sekibun the second died on February 19th 1912 at the age of 75.