Japan art and cats: Buddhist monk and cats

Japan art and cats: Buddhist monk and cats

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Japanese art pieces in this article focus on cats being the central theme. Cats in old Japan represented many angles – from good luck to ghosts.

The above art piece by Okubo Tadanobu (1722-1777) is very mysterious. This concerns the cat standing tall and dressed as a Buddhist monk.

The cat – a Buddhist monk – attentively watches a rat caught by a bird of prey. It is believed that cats were brought in increasing numbers to Japan during the Nara Period (710-794) to protect Buddhist scrolls from rats.

Interestingly, in the art piece by Okubo Tadanobu, the chrysanthemums are on the robes. Hence, the Japanese Imperial Family being connected historically with cats since bygone times entails another mysterious angle to this unique art piece.

The second art piece is by Asai Kiyoshi (1901-1968). He was born in Hiroshima and was one of several artists who founded the Nihon Hanga Kai (Japan Print Society – established in 1960). This art piece was completed in the 1940s.

Finally, the third art piece is by Nishiyama Suisho (1879-1956). He was born in the cultural city of Kyoto and studied under the esteemed Seiho Takeuchi (1864-1942).

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