Japanese art and the influence of Buddhism on Rinpa art

Japanese art and the influence of Buddhism on Rinpa art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japanese Rinpa (Rimpa) art is a wonder to behold. From the inception of this delightful art form, the Buddhist sect of Nichiren was instrumental. Hence, despite the gradual decline of the impact of Buddhism on this art form, the aesthetics of this faith remains fundamental.

Wealthy Nichiren Buddhist merchants sought an art form that combined a lovely aesthetics that suited the worldview they believed in. Thus, the artistic endeavors of Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558-1637) and Tawaraya Sōtatsu – the founding fathers of rinpa art – had wealthy Buddhist patrons to provide economic support.

The Buddhist merchants from Kyoto already resided in a place of high culture. However, they desired a new art form to further the ethical ideals they held. Therefore, rinpa art provided a linkage between art, ethics, philosophy, spirituality, time and space, and other important areas. 

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.”

In another article, I comment, “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.”

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