Japan art and the paths of Shintoism and Buddhism: Holy men in the snow without Abraham

Japan art and the paths of Shintoism and Buddhism: Holy men in the snow without Abraham

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

In the second part of Sawako Utsumi’s art that focuses on Buddhist and Shinto holy men in the snow, the contemporary Japanese artist once more works a treat. Of course, the art itself provides a lovely backdrop into the interrelationship between Buddhism and Shintoism that seems to flow naturally. Equally, the nuance of simplicity belies the shocking truth of how Buddhism was erased despite the mountains of Afghanistan and in other parts of the world.

Hence, the twin forces of religious imperialism and domination by the respective faiths of Christianity and Islam bypassed Japan based on geography. Yes, Christianity did begin to grow in the later stages of the sixteenth century and early seventeenth century. However, the Tokugawa Period would soon oppress the Christian faith at all costs before the onset of yet another Abrahamic takeover.

Utsumi, while creating an adorable landscape that fuses nature and faith, is also alluding to the gentleness of the terrain despite the harsh winter conditions. Yet, the bigger picture equates to how Japan was luckily isolated from the enslaving and imperialistic forces of Christianity and Islam. Indeed, the natural scene of a Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple in the mountain landscape contrasts with the narrow-mindlessness of Abrahamic faiths that seek certainty in a world based on chaos.

The two art pieces titled “Art of Buddhism and Shintoism and Two Paths in the Snow” and “Art of Japan and the Two Paths of Shintoism and Buddhism: Holy Men in the Snow without Abraham,” alludes to the interwoven faiths of Buddhism and Shintoism that naturally share the same space in Japan. This natural flow of Buddhism and other non-Abrahamic faiths equally flowed in Afghanistan prior to the onset of Islam. However, now the Buddhist component of civilization in Afghanistan is nothing more than a memory. Instead, apostates from Islam face prison or death in 2018 in Sharia inclined nations based on no internal reformation unlike much of the Christian influenced world.

In the other art piece related to the same theme, I comment, Of course, the bigger picture relates to the crushing of Buddhism in history and the ongoing struggle of this faith in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Ladakh, Rakhine, Tibet, and other parts of the world, where Buddhism is threatened. Equally disturbing, even the historical legacy of Buddhism is being erased by Sunni Islamist forces in Afghanistan and further afield. Likewise, many Traditional Beliefs are still under threat from Christianity and Islam respectively – from small tribes in Brazil to tribes in Indonesia. Therefore, the beacon of the indigenous faith of Shintoism still shines brightly and this says much for Buddhism that did not seek to devour the indigenous faith – unlike the historical reality of Christian and Muslim forces throughout history that erased the past.”


Overall, the singular dimension is another adorable landscape by this contemporary Japanese artist that also fills the viewer with natural delight. Likewise, people can connect with aspects of Japanese culture and faith. However, the greater nuance applies to a land that wasn’t conquered by the faiths of Abraham. Therefore, the natural landscape and the interwoven angle of Buddhism and Shintoism relates to continuity and an inner peace based on escaping the excesses of Abrahamic faiths.


Book Review: Sawako Utsumi and her Kindred Spirit

European and Japanese Art: Buddhism, Christianity, Landscapes, Rinpa, Shintoism, Ukiyo-e, and Dutch Masters

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.

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/art-of-japan-and-the-two-paths-of-shintoism-and-buddhism-holy-men-in-the-snow-without-abraham-sawako-utsumi.html Art of Japan and the Two Paths of Shintoism and Buddhism: Holy Men in the Snow without Abraham

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/art-of-buddhism-and-shintoism-and-two-paths-in-the-snow-sawako-utsumi.html Art of Buddhism and Shintoism and Two Paths in the Snow

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


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