Japan and Zen Buddhist art: Shunso Joshu

Japan and Zen Buddhist art: Shunso Joshu

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

The Japanese Zen Buddhist monk, Shunso Joshu, was born in the middle of the eighteenth century. One can only imagine how the local Buddhist temples in Oita impacted him. Thus, it was apparent from a very young age that the Buddhist priesthood awaited Shunso. 

After being ordained at the tender age of eleven, Shunso would seek greater knowledge in the future. Hence, during his late teens, he traveled far and wide to seek further knowledge from esteemed Zen Buddhist masters. Therefore, he came into contact with people who held a broad array of ideas – concerning Buddhism.

A Japanese Buddhist proverb says, “Regret and desire are equally vain in this world of impermanency; for all joy is the beginning of an experience that must have its pain.”

Shunso – eager to learn from Zen masters – opened up his mind to new ideas from worldly-wise individuals – to Zen masters who were hidden from everyday life. Thus with various sects in Japan and ideas – along with the impact of Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism – one can envisage the young Shunso being eager to learn. 

In time, Shunso studied under Suio, who had been a disciple of the esteemed Hakuin. Cultural angles related to art, calligraphy, literature, and poetry were highly valued. Therefore, Shunso’s time in Kyoto – religious and cultural – enabled Shunso to grow in prominence. 

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