Kōno Bairei (1844-1895)
Japanese painter and art teacher, late Edo and early Meiji periods.
Bairei was more renowned as an educator than a painter, and his contributions were significant. The young Bairei asked a fortuneteller, "Can I become a first-class painter in Japan?" The fortuneteller replied: 'I'm sorry, but you can't become a first-class painter. But you will become a second-rate painter. And among those you bring up, there will surely be a first-rate painter in the world. So train your disciples", he replied. Hearing this, Bairei said, "I am sorry that I cannot become a first-class painter, but if this is also my destiny, then there is nothing I can do. I will educate my pupils and create the best in the world". In later years, he told this anecdote to his pupils and encouraged them, saying, "I am your springboard, so don't hesitate to use me as your springboard and become greater than me."