Japan art and Buddhism – the mirror of life!

Japan art and Buddhism – the mirror of life!

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Kaō Ninga was a holy Japanese Buddhist monk who lived during the Nanboku-chō Period. Hence, he lived during a time of major hierarchical differences. This concerns the Nanboku-chō period (1336-1392) and the lasting convulsions of the demise of the Kamakura shogunate.

The Nanboku-chō Period began after the ending of the Kamakura shogunate in 1333. These convulsions continued because the Kenmu Restoration failed to solve the crisis of legitimacy after the demise of the Kamakura shogunate.

The Met Museum says, “The Kamakura and Nanbokuchō eras were remarkable for the shift that occurred in the Japanese aesthetic. The highly refined sensibilities of the superseded aristocracy did not interest the new patrons. Instead, the warrior class favored artists who treated their subjects with a direct honesty and virile energy that matched their own. What followed, then, was an age of realism unparalleled before the late eighteenth century.”

One can imagine the world of Kaō Ninga revolving around Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, the backdrop of Shintoism, and the impact of Northeast Asia (China and Korea) on the shores of Japan. Also, the events of the Kamakura Period and Nanboku-chō Period – concerning internal political convulsions – impacted his art and ethical ideals.

In another article, I comment, “Of course, like the mirror of life – and how history is often remembered when glossing over the violent excesses of reality – his world was blessed by peace. However, many ordinary citizens faced war, poverty, and the reality of power concentration during the Nanboku-chō Period.”

Kaō Ninga remains potent in modern Japan. This relates to his artistic achievements and the wisdom of Buddhism that is embedded in his art.



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