Buddhism and the Japanese calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige: Bodhisattva Kannon

Buddhism and the Japanese calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige: Bodhisattva Kannon Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The inscription of the Japanese calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige dates the scroll to 1257. Thus the start of the brief Shoka era. Also, in this period of Japanese history, the famous Buddhist monk Nichiren (1222-1282) spread new ideas and reinvigorated Buddhism…

Japan art and culture: Kaihō Yūshō (1533-1615), Buddhism, and China 

Japan art and culture: Kaihō Yūshō (1533-1615), Buddhism, and China  Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The Japanese artist Kaihō Yūshō (1533-1615) lived and breathed Buddhism, high culture, the arts, and the richness of Chinese culture. Yūshō was a lay Buddhist priest who fused the arts, ethics, faith, philosophy, and other aspects of Japanese high…

Japan art and Yanagisawa Kien: Edo artist influenced by Buddhism, China, and Confucianism

Japan art and Yanagisawa Kien: Edo artist influenced by Buddhism, China, and Confucianism Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The Japanese artist Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758) had a firm spiritual and philosophical soul. Thus the words of Confucius and the faith of Ōbaku-shū Zen Buddhism molded Kien greatly. Kien was a noted Nanga School (bunjinga) artist.…

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…

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,…

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: If birds could only speak?

Art of Japan: If birds could only speak? Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) produced countless stunning art pieces during his lifetime. Interestingly, in the last few decades of his life, he became a Buddhist monk and lived a life of solitude. In the art of two delightful pieces you can see…

Art of Japan: A bird enjoying the fruit of life

Art of Japan: A bird enjoying the fruit of life Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1829) produced countless stunning art pieces during his lifetime. Interestingly, in the last few decades of his life, he became a Buddhist monk and lived a life of solitude. In the art of two delightful pieces you…

Art of Japan: Buddhist Monk and Winter

Art of Japan: Buddhist Monk and Winter Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Sawako Utsumi fuses a stunning landscape with a wandering Buddhist monk in the bleak midwinter of Japan. Indeed, the religious angle, be it Buddhism, Christianity, or Shintoism, is a theme that pops up often in her art. However, her faith is embedded…

Sugawara Mitsushige and Buddhism: Bodhisattva Kannon and the Middle Kingdom

Sugawara Mitsushige and Buddhism: Bodhisattva Kannon and the Middle Kingdom Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The passing of time never dampens the beauty of the thirteenth-century Japanese calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige. Indeed, just like the words of Buddha remain timeless, then images of chapter 25 of the “Universal Gate” representing Bodhisattva Kannon equally remain timeless…

Art of Japan and the remaining shadow of Shintoism

Art of Japan and the remaining shadow of Shintoism Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Buddhist temples from various sects appear to dominate the religious discourse in Japan but inwardly the faith of Shintoism remains within the soul, irrespective of cultural, religious, or secular. Indeed, the splendor of ultra-modern cities, for example, Tokyo and Osaka,…

Japanese Buddhist poetry of the fourteenth century: Jakushitsu Genkō (1290-1367)

Japanese Buddhist poetry of the fourteenth century: Jakushitsu Genkō (1290-1367) Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times Jakushitsu Genkō (1290-1367) is a famous Japanese Rinzai Buddhist preacher who became the first abbot of the Eigen-ji temple that was built in his honor. He reportedly said about poetry, “Why pursue words, when one truly seeks silence?” This…

Art of Zen Buddhism in Japan: Hakuin Ekaku

Art of Zen Buddhism in Japan: Hakuin Ekaku Lee Jay Walker Modern Tokyo Times The holy Buddhist monk Hakuin Ekaku revived the school of Rinzai Buddhism based on taking Zen Buddhism far and wide. Indeed, his upbringing meant that he never lost touch with people at the bottom of the ladder, in terms of wealth.…