An Artist of the Floating World

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san Character Analysis

A rich and talented artist who takes on young pupils, including Ono and the Tortoise, inviting them to live in his villa and study his aesthetic. Mori-san lives in a large decrepit villa in the countryside. He believes that the most delicate beauty in the world exists in transient moments at late-night bars among geishas in the pleasure district, and is dedicating his life to trying to capture this beauty in his art. He uses European techniques in his painting, eschewing the use of dark outlines in favor of shading. When students try to take a different direction in their painting, Mori-san demands that they leave the villa.

Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san Quotes in An Artist of the Floating World

The An Artist of the Floating World quotes below are all either spoken by Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san or refer to Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of An Artist of the Floating World published in 1986.
November 1949 Quotes

You may gather from such recollections that our devotion to our teacher and to his principles was fierce and total. And it is easy with hindsight — once the shortcomings of an influence have become obvious — to be critical of a teacher who fosters such a climate. But then again, anyone who has held ambitions on a grand scale, anyone who has been in a position to achieve something large and has felt the need to impart his ideas as thoroughly as possible, will have some sympathy for the way Mori-san conducted things. For though it may seem a little foolish now in the light of what became of his career, it was Mori-san's wish at that time to do nothing less than change fundamentally the identity of painting as practised in our city. It was with no less a goal in mind that he devoted so much of his time and wealth to the nurturing of pupils, and it is perhaps important to remember this when making judgements concerning my former teacher.

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san, Sasaki
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

I have learnt many things over these past years. I have learnt much in contemplating the world of pleasure, and recognizing its fragile beauty. But I now feel it is time for me to progress to other things. Sensei, it is my belief that in such troubled times as these, artists must learn to value something more tangible than those pleasurable things that disappear with the morning light. It is not necessary that artists always occupy a decadent and enclosed world. My conscience, Sensei, tells me I cannot remain forever an artist of the floating world.

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Kuroda, Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san
Page Number: 179-180
Explanation and Analysis:
June 1950 Quotes

And all the while I turned over in my mind what might occur when I came face to face with Mori-san once more. Perhaps he would receive me as an honoured guest; or perhaps he would be as cold and distant as during my final days at the villa; then again, he might behave towards me in much the way he had always done while I had been his favourite pupil — that is, as though the great changes in our respective status had not occurred. The last of these possibilities struck me as the most likely and I remember considering how I would respond. I would not, I resolved, revert to old habits and address him as 'Sensei'; instead, I would simply address him as though he were a colleague. And if he persisted in failing to acknowledge the position I now occupied, I would say, with a friendly laugh, something to the effect of: 'As you see, Mori-san, I have not been obliged to spend my time illustrating comic books as you once feared.'

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

It is hard to describe the feeling, for it was quite different from the sort of elation one feels from smaller triumphs – and, as I say, quite different from anything I had experienced during the celebrations at the Migi-Hidari. It was a profound sense of happiness deriving from the conviction that one's efforts have been justified; that the hard work undertaken, the doubts overcome, have all been worthwhile; that one has achieved something of real value and distinction. I did not go any further towards the villa that day — it seemed quite pointless. I simply continued to sit there for an hour or so, in deep contentment, eating my oranges.

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
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Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san Character Timeline in An Artist of the Floating World

The timeline below shows where the character Seiji Moriyama, Mori-san appears in An Artist of the Floating World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
October 1948
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
...Tortoise that he has been invited to become a pupil of the painter and printer Seiji Moriyama , who is a true artist. Ono tells the Tortoise to show his own work... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
...the villa and asked for him, Ono and some of the others who lived at Mori-san’s villa were drinking and playing cards. Even though they would have defended their lifestyle if... (full context)
November 1949
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...influence. Ono still retains these traces of his teacher Seiji Moriyama (whom he always called “Mori-san”) and he imagines some of his students still have some of his mannerisms. He hopes... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Ono reflects on his seven years living at Mori-san’s villa, saying they were some of the happiest years of his life. Back then, the... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Mori-san’s leading pupil was named Sasaki. If Sasaki suggested that someone’s work was disloyal to Mori-san’s... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
After Sasaki left Mori-san’s villa, he was referred to as “the traitor.” Often the pupils exchanged insults in a... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Mori-san not only influenced his students’ painting, but also their lifestyles. Because they were painting the... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...in a storeroom where no one goes. He sits there for a long time, until Mori-san comes in and asks what is worrying him. Mori-san asks if there is something about... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
After a moment, Mori-san says that Gisaburo has had an unhappy life and is only happy in the moments... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
...exchange from the present, Ono says that he cannot be sure that this was what Mori-san said. Indeed, it sounds like something he himself might have said while drinking at the... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
...he was always striving to improve, because he hoped someday to exhibit alongside Ono and Mori-san. Ono let the matter drop. (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...message of “Complacency” but instead noticed Ono’s use of bold calligraphy and hard outlines, techniques Mori-san taught his students to reject. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Ono shifts his narrative to a conversation he has with Mori-san a week after the confrontation with the Tortoise. Ono and Mori-san go to the pavilion... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
On the night he visits the pavilion with Mori-san, the lanterns are unlit when they arrive, so Mori-san asks Ono to light them. Mori-san... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Mori-san continues that it is not a bad thing for a young artist to experiment, as... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Looking back years later, Ono reflects that Mori-san’s treatment of him may seem harsh, but it should be remembered how much Mori-san had... (full context)
June 1950
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...feeling of deep fulfillment and pride. He takes a train to Wakaba, intending to visit Mori-san. He is sure that Mori-san knows how much better his career turned out than he... (full context)