Is there a story behind this painting of a man fishing in the air off the side of mountain?
This is Chinese, not Japanese.
The handwriting is too squiggly for me to read the middle characters but I think it says:
高山 High Mountain ?? ?? 三石 Three Rocks
Searching by these characters I found other renderings with the same artist seal signature:
This page had the following explanation:
Maybe it seems silly to go fishing in the mountains, but we all need a place to get away and think.
In this painting the man does not expect to catch fish, but rather is there to think and contemplate his life, or find solutions to any problems he might have, and just get away from the real world for a while.
This painting is inspired by the story of a gifted philosopher and scholarly man named Yan Zi Ling who was called to service by Emperor Liu Che during the Han Dynasty. Yan Zi Ling did not want to take a position of authority in the government, fearing that holding such power, he would become corrupt.
Even though he was a wise, talented, and honorable man, he knew that service in the imperial court could corrupt even the most ethical person. He felt so strongly about preserving his own integrity and dignity that he decided that it would be better to live in exile than to become another corrupt official.
For several years, Emperor Liu Che sent men out to search the countryside and find Yan Zi Ling. But the emperor's men couldn't find him. Of course, the emperor's men had no idea that Yan Zi Ling now lives in his own special place in the mountains where he could get away from the trouble of the world.
We all need a place to get away from it all and this man has found his place. Perhaps this painting will inspire you to find yours?
Probably inspired by the original painting "AFTER LIU SONGNIAN (1150-1225)"