Japanese Buddhist wall art steeped in history

Japanese Buddhist wall art steeped in history

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japan is shaped by the religions and philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism. In this article, the theme is the legacy of Buddhist wall art and secular angles via the beauty of nature. Therefore, while the name of the individual – or individuals – responsible for this art fades into history: the beauty remains potent to all who witness the stunning wall art of eleventh-century Japan. 

The delightful wall art comes from the holy Buddhist temple called Byōdō-in (Temple of Equality). This temple is located in Kyoto. Hence, one can easily imagine Buddhists visiting this religious place for nearly 1,000 years.

Byōdō-in became a Buddhist temple in 1052 – though the roots of the compound can be traced back to 998 – on the orders of Fujiwara no Michinaga. This holy place failed to escape the power mechanisms of the fourteenth century. Therefore, many special buildings connected to this holy compound were destroyed during times of conflict.

The late fifteenth century and the early part of the Edo Period in the seventeenth century witnessed the expansion of this holy Buddhist compound. For example, the Rakan-do Hall in 1640 and the Saisho-in Temple in 1654. Thus this holy Buddhist complex expanded along with the cultural importance of this holy place.

When viewing the intricate nature of this potent wall art from nearly 1,000 years ago – one can only imagine how people have viewed them with awe down the centuries. Individuals are connecting with the distant world of the “past” but through the eyes of modernity – and greater secularism. However, irrespective of faith – or no faith – or from a different religious thought pattern (Abrahamic faith): the beauty, mystery, and knowing of permanence of this holy place (long after the viewer parts this world) creates a deep sense of spirituality and connection!

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