San Murata

Region: Ontario
Born 1940, Japan



San Murata is an Ontario-based painter living in a historic small town near Toronto. Born in Japan, he graduated from the University of Musashi in Tokyo with a degree in Economics in 1964. In 1968, he travelled to Canada to ‘have a look around’, and liked it so much that he decided to stay. In Canada, he soon found himself building a career in graphic design and illustration, and worked for a time as an art director and designer for network television.

San Murata started painting, full time in 1988, following a life-changing medical incident which caused him to leave the hustle of Toronto and move to the country.  He began by depicting scenes from places he had visited in Europe and continued to develop using his Canadian homes in Port Hope and then Grafton, Ontario. San visits Japan every year for three months having painting exhibitions and following his other love, jazz violin.  He has developed a style where his paintings depict everyday scenes in a technique described as ‘folk art with a twist’, using a unique colour repertoire to convey a sense of magic and whimsy. Recently he has celebrated scenery from closer to home, in Ontario and Quebec. He has had several exhibitions in Japan and Canada every year. most recently at public galleries and Museums. San Murata’s work can be found in collections of the Smithsonian Institute, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, and UNICEF as well as the homes of distinguished Canadian and Japanese collectors.


One of a handful of people playing jazz violin, San Murata has become an in-demand and appreciated musicians on the Toronto jazz scene.  San’s approach to jazz violin is one that emphasizes pure melody and romantic lyricism.  His charming music evokes the atmosphere of a Paris salon or a Manhattan tea room.

San has played with many of Toronto’s top jazz musicians including Norm Amadio Jake Langley, Bernie Senesky, Neil Swainson, Reg Schwager, Mark Kieswetter, Danny McErain and the late Bob George, to name e a few.  The National Jazz Awards has nominated San as the “Best Violinist of the Year’ four times.  San has appeared at the Downtown Toronto Jazz Festival every year since 1994 at the All Canadian Jazz Festival in Port Hope the Picton Jazz Festival and has also performed four tours in Japan. He has 12 CD’s including one of original compositions “Sansongs”, played by Mark Kieswetter, and composed by San.  In 2018, he received a Canada Council for the Arts Touring Grant to perform concerts in Jazz clubs in Kumamoto, Japan with Neil Swainson. He then led an exciting Japan/ Canada Jazz exchange that he is continuing for 2019 to celebrate 90 years of Japan / Canada diplomatic relations.  He lives in the historic small town of Grafton, close to Toronto where he has his painting studio.