Japanese art and rinpa: Buddhism, Maple trees, and a lovely stone lantern

Japanese art and rinpa: Buddhism, Maple trees, and a lovely stone lantern

Lee Jay Walker  

Modern Tokyo Times

The delightful school of rinpa (rimpa) art covers a notable art form that hails from Japan. Rinpa spans many centuries and in modern times this art form continues to represent Japanese high culture. Therefore, international and internal exhibitions continue to inspire.

Nichiren Buddhism played an instrumental role in rinpa art. This applies to wealthy Nichiren Buddhist merchants from Kyoto, who financed the artistic endeavors of Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558-1637). Hence, Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu became the founding fathers of rinpa art.

One can imagine how wealthy Buddhist merchants found inner peace in art, calligraphy, ceramics, lacquerware, literature, Japanese gardens, the tea ceremony, and other areas related to Japanese high culture. Indeed, the architecture of Kyoto and famous Buddhist temples meant a form of heaven on earth fused with continuity.

In the book by Momo Miyazaki, titled Elegance in Japanese Art, it is stated, “Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) took the Rinpa style that was developed in Kyoto and expanded it in Edo (modern day Tokyo), while combining it with a fresh painting style to match Edo tastes. For this reason, Hōitsu is considered the founder of Edo Rinpa.”

The spiritual footprints of Buddhism can be felt when viewing based on serenity. Equally, the imagination can feel the richness of Japanese high culture and continuity where the ego is negated. Therefore, this delightful art form still astonishes today just like yesterday!

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