Japan art and Buddhism: Dreaming of the old night view and the wisdom of Nichiren
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
In these two art pieces by the contemporary Japanese artist Sawako Utsumi, the theme flows from old Japan to the rich wisdom of the holy Buddhist cleric called Nichiren (1222-1282). In a sense, Utsumi is alluding to the rapidly changing Japan and the uncertainty that besets many people.
These two art pieces are titled Old Japan at Nightfall and Exiled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in the Snow. The majesty of this art applies to the simplicity of nightfall being portrayed and the symbolism of a holy Buddhist preacher persevering over enormous adversity.
Nichiren uttered, “More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body. The most valuable of all are the treasures of the heart.”
The above quote by Nichiren was true when he spoke these words and they remain timeless irrespective of modernization. Hence, with Nichiren being tested to the maximum many times – for example, in the art piece by Utsumi this relates to his brutal exile to Sado Island – then his words resonate powerfully. This is based on the firm convictions Nichiren held and how they helped him to overcome enormous adversity.
In a past article, I state, “Nichiren (1222-1282) was born during a very unstable period in Japan because of internal political convulsions, the devastation of nature, and many Japanese individuals believed that the world was entering a bleak period based on growing backwardness. Debates took place on the Latter Day of the Law and according to Nichiren, this sad reality was based on the false Buddhist schools of his time. Therefore, the thirteenth century in Japan had feelings of foreboding and questioning the status quo.”
The above paragraph resonates equally in the art piece titled Old Japan at Nightfall that was based on the mirage of the artist Kamisaka Sekka. After all, with the world being in flux and with many people feeling like just numbers based on globalism, endless change, the erosion of culture and identity, and other negative factors, then the nightfall scene is full of warmth. This warmth relates to aspects of the old world still being valid today and how old knowledge can still guide powerfully despite the passages of time.
Overall, the delightful settings are a reminder of years gone by in old Japan based on the concept of tranquility and natural beauty. Similarly, the religious angle of Buddhism and hints of Shintoism through the images of nature are meant to soothe the heart.
http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sawako-utsumi.html – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, postcards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests.
http://www.lulu.com/shop/lee-jay-walker/sawako-utsumi-and-her-kindred-spirit/paperback/product-22830732.html – Please click on to order the book.
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/exiled-buddhist-cleric-nichiren-in-the-snow-sawako-utsumi.html – Exiled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in the Snow
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/buddhist-cleric-nichiren-in-exile-and-homage-to-yoshitoshi-sawako-utsumi.html Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in Exile and Homage to Yoshitoshi
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/buddhist-cleric-nichiren-and-bleak-winter-in-exile-sawako-utsumi.html Buddhist Cleric Nichiren and Bleak Winter in Exile
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/old-japan-at-nightfall-sawako-utsumi.html Old Japan at Nightfall
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