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 the sublime majesty of Hōitsu. One is solely focused on a persimmon tree, while the other is a crow enjoying the fruit on offer on the persimmon tree.
If you look solely at both art pieces singularly then many emotions entail. In the first, the persimmon tree and the autumn winds denote the ending of another season. Like life, the full bloom of beauty and fullness of the fruit of life is now in the last vestiges.
However, in the other persimmon tree, the art resonates with the abundance of life. Hence, the crow is full of joy and enjoying the fruit of life. This applies to the natural joy of sustenance and delicious fruit. Yet, equally, it is the full bloom of life when hope abounds and joy is in easy reach.
Turning back to the persimmon tree facing the cold wind of autumn, it is interesting to note another autumn exists. After all, it was now the autumn of his life. Therefore, with Hōitsu now belonging to the Buddhist world and living in solitude, one can relate the persimmon tree to his own personal thinking.
Interestingly, he used his adoptive Buddhist name Monsen Kishin in the seal of the delightful autumn persimmon screen. This denotes the changing winds of life from secular to Buddhism. However, the one constant theme throughout his life was art.
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