Japan art and Sakai Hōitsu: Snow, the Moon, and Cherry Blossoms

Japan art and Sakai Hōitsu: Snow, the Moon, and Cherry Blossoms

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) produced countless stunning art pieces. Hence, his reputation remains potent in modern Japan. Therefore, in the delightful triptych by Hōitsu – titled Snow, the Moon, and Cherry Blossoms – the majesty is clear concerning its simplicity and aspects concerning space. 

The Museum of Art (MOA) says, “The snow, the moon and the cherry blossom flowers are the three motifs representing the seasonal pleasures in Japan. Hōitsu composed the triad as one whole unit, thinking of the overall composition when three paintings are juxtaposed. Therefore he placed the snow and pine trees on the top, the moon in the clouds in the middle, and the cherry blossoms at the bottom of each screen. Hōitsu was a painter, poet, and researcher of the Rimpa School, but this work is a superb manifestation of Hōitsu’s prestige as a designer. This triad beautifully painted with selected pigments, is one of Hōitsu’s masterpieces, completed when he was 60 years old.”

Hōitsu, when completing this delightful art piece, was now a Buddhist monk. Thus the holy Buddhist chants, reading holy books, space, and dimensions of Japanese gardens, art, and other cultural, religious, and philosophical angles were part of his daily life. 

The Philadelphia Museum of Art says, “Sakai Hoitsu was the second son of a powerful landowning family in the city of Himeji, in Hyogo Prefecture. He was a talented person, especially in painting, and, strongly influenced by the works of Ogata Korin (1658–1716), established his own Rimpa style.”

The minimal approach by Hōitsu in this art piece fails to mask the hidden meaning that is often overlooked. Hence, intricate thought patterns – the delightful beauty of nature – and time and space work perfectly. 

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