Rinpa art in Japan and its link to Nichiren Buddhism
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The rinpa (rimpa) art form in Japan was fully supported by Nichiren Buddhist merchants in the cultural city of Kyoto. These Buddhists followed the teachings of the holy priest Nichiren (1222-1282). Therefore, the exquisite art of rinpa was funded by individuals who believed that all sentient beings possessed a special Buddha-nature based on the Lotus Sutra.
Rinpa art equally expressed gentleness through the prism of nature and other angles that flowed naturally within individuals who adore high culture. In a sense, this art form reaches the soul concerning its beautiful simplicity.
The Kyoto National Museum says, “Rinpa (alternatively spelled Rimpa) is a revivalist aesthetic style based on classical artistic and literary traditions. Rinpa works are often characterized by subject matter taken from nature or classical Japanese literature; they frequently have a decorative sensibility and sometimes abstracted design elements and distinctive techniques.”
The Museum of Art says, “The Rinpa art exemplifies many aspects of Japanese art, such as the depiction of transient scenes of four seasons and refined decorative techniques using gold, silver, and other vibrant colors.”
In a past article, I comment, “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!”
Nichiren said, “Winter always turns into Spring.”
In another delightful quote from Nichiren, he says, “We ordinary people can see neither our own eyelashes, which are so close – nor the heavens in the distance.”
Wealthy Buddhist merchants following the teachings of Nichiren supported the work of Hon’ami Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu. These two individuals were the founding fathers of rinpa art. They were born in the sixteenth century and died in the seventeenth century during the early Edo Period. Therefore, rinpa art since its inception was blessed – literally!
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