Art of Japan and the Middle Kingdom (China): Buddhism, Confucianism, and other ideas

Art of Japan and the Middle Kingdom (China): Buddhism, Confucianism, and other ideas Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The religious and philosophical ideas of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism (Daoism) impacted enormously on China, Japan, and Korea in Northeast Asia. Similarly, each nation had potent internal faiths and ideas. For example, Shintoism in Japan and…

Japan art and continuity despite rapid political changes: Sakai Dōitsu (1845-1913)

Japan art and continuity despite rapid political changes: Sakai Dōitsu (1845-1913) Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Sakai Dōitsu (1845-1913) was a Japanese artist who witnessed the demise of the Edo period and the rapid changes of the Meiji era. However, he actually died during the early Taisho period that promised further modernization and greater liberty. …

Japanese Buddhist poetry from centuries ago

Japanese Buddhist poetry from centuries ago Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The holy Buddhist monk Jien (1155-1225) followed Tendai Buddhism. Naturally, with the passages of time and the political power dynamics of the day, it is important to enter his world. However, for Jien, “All the flowers are but the flower of the law”…

Japanese Buddhist poetry: Saigyō, nature, and solitude

Japanese Buddhist poetry: Saigyō, nature, and solitude Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The young Saigyō Hōshi (birth name Satō Norikiyo) was born to a noble family in Kyoto. However, the cultural dynamics were shifting because Buddhism was increasingly being questioned during his period of life – despite Buddhism remaining potent. Therefore, with Saigyō living between 1118-1190,…

Buddhist nun: Art, poetry, Japanese anti-Buddhism, and sadness of Rengetsu (1791-1875)

Buddhist nun: Art, poetry, Japanese anti-Buddhism, and sadness of Rengetsu (1791-1875) Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Ōtagaki Rengetsu is widely acclaimed as being one of the greatest poets of nineteenth-century Japan. Indeed, her legacy is great concerning art, calligraphy, poetry, and being a graceful potter.  The life of Rengetsu was shaped greatly by Buddhism.…

Japanese Buddhism and art: Hakuin Ekaku and Chinese philosophy

Japanese Buddhism and art: Hakuin Ekaku and Chinese philosophy Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The revered Zen Buddhist, Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769), understood the importance of connecting with ordinary people. Hence, under his tutelage and wisdom, he helped to restore the vitality of Rinzai Buddhism that was stagnating.  Hakuin was born in Hara in the province…

Japanese art: The desolate Japanese Buddhist path

Japanese art: The desolate Japanese Buddhist path Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Sawako Utsumi is a gifted contemporary Japanese artist. In her latest art piece, titled “The desolate Japanese Buddhist path,” Utsumi once more fuses culture, nature, and Buddhism. Ironically, she does this despite being a follower of Shintoism.  This concerns her connection with old Buddhism that…

Art of Japan: A flower cut down before full bloom

Art of Japan: A flower cut down before full bloom Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The esteemed Japanese artist Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) must have been crestfallen on hearing of the death of Suzuki Reitan (1792-1817). After all, Reitan had studied under Hōitsu. Therefore, one of the flowers he was teaching would never bloom. Hence,…

Imperial system in Japan based on revisionism concerning a female leader

Imperial system in Japan based on revisionism concerning a female leader Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Japan is known for being a bastion of political family elites who dominate the ministerial system. Likewise, Japan ranks poorly in countless international benchmarks involving women. This concerns few female business leaders, limited political representation,…

Poetry of Japan: Fusions of cultural ideas in bygone days

Poetry of Japan: Fusions of cultural ideas in bygone days Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Yamanoue no Okura (660-733?) lived a very fascinating life. Naturally, many areas of his life remain unknown and are open to interpretation. This is based on the passages of time. Therefore, his true nationality isn’t fully known alongside many…

Images of old Japan based on a commercial illusion

Images of old Japan based on a commercial illusion Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The Japanese photographer, Kusakabe Kimbei, was born in 1841 in Edo Japan and died in the 1930s during a period of heightened political tension in this nation. Hence, one can only imagine the things he witnessed throughout his life because…