Hōbun was born in Osaka in the Ichitani family, who were
professional mounters of paintings.
He was adopted into the Kikuchi family and moved to Kyoto. He was
first trained by Kanō Hōen, and from 1881 to 1885 he was one of
Kōno Baireiís many pupils.
For most of his professional life he was a teacher at the Kyoto
Municipal School of Fine Arts and Crafts. He frequently exhibited
at the Bunten. He became a judge both at the Bunten and the Teiten.
Kikuchi Hōbun, Takeuchi Seihō, Taniguchi Kōkyō and Tsuji Kakō were
the four leading painters of Kyoto at the time and the founders of
the modern Kyoto school.
Recurring themes in his work are landscapes and kacho-e in the
traditional style. His best known pupils are his adopted son
Kikuchi Keigetsu, Kawakita Kahō, Yamada Kōun and Abe Shumpō.
He died in 1918.