Japan art and Kawase Hasui: Nara and Buddhism, Shinto, and nature
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Japanese artist Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) belongs to the world of Shin-Hanga (New Prints). In this art piece, the focus is on Nara.
Accordingly, the angles of architecture, Buddhism, culture, nature, and Shinto all fuse naturally – with Nara being the cradle of Japanese high culture. Outside Japan, Kyoto is more famous than Nara. However, it was Nara that entrenched Japanese high culture and the faith of Buddhism to a level not seen before. Therefore, Kyoto built on the legacy of Nara.
The Sompo Museum of Art says, “Hasui was inspired by breezes and spent his days traveling with the sun, clouds, and rain, painting the scenery of all four seasons of Japan. This was also a journey to seek the scenery of old times.“
In the second art piece, the delightful fusion of nature and Shintoism works as a real treat. This concerns the small Shinto shrine in the environs of the Kasuga Taisha. Hasui doesn’t focus on the main Shinto shrine. Instead, the deer stroll naturally with a small shrine in the background.
Nara is the cradle of Japanese high culture that emerged in the eighth century. This concerns the Nara Period, which consists of the majority of the eighth century in Japan.
One can only imagine the timelessness of Buddhism and the fusions of Confucianism and Taoism that met the indigenous faith of Shintoism. Hence, if you close your eyes – one can imagine how Afghanistan, parts of Central Asia, and modern-day Pakistan once looked before countless Islamic invasions took the sword to Buddhism. Therefore, Nara is a window into the distant past of Japan – and into other parts of the world that succumbed to the monotheism of Islam.
The Virginia Art Museum says, “He began his journey as an illustrator for books and magazines but soon discovered his heart belonged to printmaking. In 1918, he began creating Shin-hanga (new prints) and designed more than 600 prints during the following 40 years.”
Hasui produced stunning art throughout his life.
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