The Japanese art of Buddhist and Shinto holy men and the confusion of life

The Japanese art of Buddhist and Shinto holy men and the confusion of life

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Unlike the Islamist sword that cut down the tree of Buddhism and Hinduism in Afghanistan and other parts of Asia, the faiths and philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism have impacted greatly on Japan. Of course, the impact of all four had golden periods. Hence, while Confucianism and Taoism remain embedded in various areas of Japanese culture to varying degrees, it is Buddhism and Shintoism that remains firmly in the mindset.

In the latest art piece by the contemporary Japanese artist Sawako Utsumi, she reflects and deflects the reality of nature in various ways. On the one hand, the holy men walking towards a temple and shrine highlight the Buddhist and Shinto theme. However, the natural angle is based on reflecting reality.

For example, rather than heavy snow on the mountaintop, the snow is thicker on lowland areas. Equally, the adorable pink tree in the middle of the Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine is more akin to a warmer climate. Likewise, the misty lowland scene and lovely blue skyline are meant to resemble the fusions and confusions of life.

Nichiren, one of the most famous holy Buddhist teachers from the land of the rising sun, uttered, “Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds.”

Likewise, despite the climatic conditions and skyline of Utsumi’s art piece appearing outside the norm of nature, the holy men of Buddhism and Shintoism remain unbending. Similarly, the attitude of Utsumi towards art neither craves recognition or material gain. Therefore, the spirit of the kami flows naturally between European and Japanese themes for Utsumi; the upshot is that chaos and conformity are just nuances to be expressed and manipulated.

Overall, the art piece titledArt Of Buddhism and Shintoism sharing the same Japanese Tree,” is not only extremely beautiful to the eye, but it is also aesthetically appealing based on the chaos theory. Yet, while the chaos theory exists the beauty of Utsumi is that continuity is equally important. This is based on Buddhism and Shintoism that flows naturally in Japan, even if the words and edicts are vague to non-existent depending on applying to each respective faith.


Book Review: Sawako Utsumi and her Kindred Spirit

European and Japanese Art: Buddhism, Christianity, Landscapes, Rinpa, Shintoism, Ukiyo-e, and Dutch Masters – Please click on to order the book. – Exiled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in the Snow Art of Japan and the Two Paths of Shintoism and Buddhism: Holy Men in the Snow without Abraham Art of Buddhism and Shintoism and Two Paths in the Snow Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in Exile and Homage to Yoshitoshi Buddhist Cleric Nichiren and Bleak Winter in Exile


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