Tale of Bunsho, the Saltmaker-detail
Bunta is soon a successful and wealthy salt maker and becomes known as Bunshō Tsuneoka; Bunshō watches his employees at work balancing barrels of salt.

attributed to Tosa Mitsuoki, (1617-1691)

The Tale of Bunshō, the Saltmaker

(Bunshō Zoshi) with calligraphy by
Mushanokōji Sanekage (1661-1738)

volume I: 12 7/8 by 560 5/8 in.; 32.8 by 1424 cm
volume II: 12 7/8 by 508 5/8 in.; 32.8 by 1292 cm
volume III: 12 7/8 by 506 3/4 in.; 32.8 by 1287 cm


Tale of Bunsho, the Saltmaker-detail
After a miraculous dream when the deity of Kashima Shrine gives Bunshō two lotuses, two girls are born to his wife.

Volume I
Bunta (later known as Bunshō ), was a loyal servant to Lord Daiguji, the grand priest at the Kashima Shrine in Hitachi province. After many years of faithful service, Lord Daiguji decides to test Bunta's character by sending him away from the shrine. Poor Bunta was heartbroken and did not understand why he was ordered away from his beloved master, but did as he was told. Not having anywhere to go, he wandered aimlessly until he came to the home of a salt merchant who kindly took in Bunta. Initially, Bunta helped gather firewood; being a strong man he collected more firewood than others and soon learned to make salt as well. Not only was Bunta able to make salt in abundance but his salt became known for its great taste and magical healing powers. Bunta quickly gained wealth and came to be Lord Bunshō Tsuneoka, or Bunshō .

Although vastly successful and wealthy, Bunshō and his wife of many years were not blessed with children. When word got to Lord Daiguji of Bunshō's success but childlessness, he summoned Bunshō and explained the importance of having children. Bunshō understood the predicament and tried to divorce his wife but they instead decided to pray to the deity of Kashima Shrine. After several days of praying and making offerings, the deity came to Bunshō in a dream and gave him two lotus flowers. Bunshō and his wife soon had two daughters a year apart, Renge and Hachisu, who grew up to be beautiful women.

By this time Bunshō and his family were living in a large mansion and word got around to other lords in the neighboring areas of the two beautiful daughters who spent their time playing instruments, singing songs, and writing poetry. While they were constantly courted by lords, the daughters remained uninterested in the proposals. When Daiguji heard of this, he even offered two of his sons to marry Bunshō's daughters.

Tale of Bunsho, the Saltmaker
Bunshō is troubled when his beautiful daughters tearfully refuse to accept marriage proposals.


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475