Buddhism and Japanese Calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige: Bodhisattva Kannon

Buddhism and Japanese Calligrapher Sugawara Mitsushige: Bodhisattva Kannon

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


Sugawara Mitsushige is a Japanese calligrapher of the thirteenth century who naturally focused on Buddhism in this period of Japanese history. He produced extremely stunning presentations related to Bodhisattva Kannon. Therefore, images in this article related to chapter 25 of the “Universal Gate” continue to amaze despite the distance of time.


Bodhisattva (Bosatsu in Japan) Kannon and Bodhisattva Jizo are extremely popular deities in modern Japan. Kannon appeals greatly because of the compassionate nature that blesses this Bodhisattva. Similarly, the Bodhisattva Jizo is equally blessed with astounding love.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art in America says, “According to the calligrapher Sugawara-no-Mitsushige’s inscription, this scroll was made in the first year of the Shoka era (1257) and was modeled after a Chinese Song-dynasty printed book dated 1208. Although the compositions and the figural and architectural motifs of this version reflect Chinese pictorial traditions, it is clear that the anonymous artist inventively incorporated native Japanese (yamato-e) elements, especially in the manner of representing the landscapes and the fantastic beasts and demons.”



The scroll by Sugawara Mitsushige is part of the Lotus Sutra that relates to the “Universal Gate.” Images in this article apply to chapter 25 and fusions of China and Japan are visible. This isn’t surprising because enormous cultural advancements were shaping powerful cultural centers in Japan during this period of history. Therefore, places like Kamakura, Kyoto, Koyasan, Nara, Negoro-ji, and many others, were advancing culturally despite clan rivalry that blighted the nation.


Kannon seeks to deliver all humans from the world of ignorance and to end suffering. In the representations of Kannon and other aspects of the “Universal Gate,” you can feel the passion of Sugawara Mitsushige.


If individuals look closely at such splendor and then delve into the real meaning, then no words can suffice to explain the images in this article.


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