Contemporary Japanese art: Mountains, Kami, and Shinto

Contemporary Japanese art: Mountains, Kami, and Shinto

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Contemporary Japanese artist, Sawako Utsumi, fuses nature, spirituality, and the Shinto faith that is part of her life. Many aspects of Buddhism and Shintoism – with Buddhist sects being numerous – are interwoven to various degrees by ordinary lay people. Therefore, non-strict adherents to Buddhism or Shintoism pray easily at temples (Buddhism) and shrines (Shintoism) locally, during travels, and so forth.

Of the four art pieces by Utsumi in this article, two solely highlight the Shinto faith within the setting of nature and adorable landscapes. One art piece doesn’t highlight Shintoism – but, in a sense, this is the point because nature and the Shinto faith are interwoven. While the last art piece – outside the trilogy – highlights the shared space of Buddhism and Shintoism.

The different color schemes, intricate layouts, and power of each mountain landscape are extremely potent. Similarly, the pink and other shades denoting cherry blossoms – and the hidden spiritual aspect via nature – are important in Japan.

The BBC says, “Kami don’t exist in a supernatural universe – they live in the same world as human beings and the world of natureKami are not inherently different in kind from human beings or nature – they are just a higher manifestation of the life energy… an extraordinary or awesome version… Kami don’t exist in a supernatural universe – they live in the same world as human beings and the world of nature.”

Kami and the Shinto faith are thus related to each art piece – irrespective if one art piece doesn’t visibly highlight this angle. Of course, the individual viewer can link what they believe themselves. However, for Utsumi, the visible angles of Shinto and non-visible angles are interwoven within the world of nature, spirits, and the continuity of life.

Each art piece is elegantly done within a traditional setting. However, the individualism of each art piece comes alive via imaginative color schemes. Hence, in life, nature, and death – the Kami persists.

In Japan, the Shinto faith often shares various spaces with Buddhism and within the heart of each individual who follows this faith. The art piece above is outside the trilogy of the first three art pieces. However, it highlights the shared world of Buddhism and Shintoism: that exists in Japan. – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, postcards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests.


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