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

 

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.

Written by Lee Jay Walker

Please email Sawako Utsumi at sawakoart@gmail.com

BELOW IS AN ART BOOK BASED ON THE ART OF SAWAKO UTSUMI

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

http://sawakoart.com

 

Japanese Artist and Nichiren Buddhism: Exile in the Snow on Sado Island

Japanese Artist and Nichiren Buddhism: Exile in the Snow on Sado Island

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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The Buddhist holy man called Nichiren (1222-1282) was exiled to Sado Island in his native Japan. This reality was extremely harsh for Nichiren and his followers feared for him. However, Nichiren had faced even worse situations because he faced death based on political intrigues against him. Therefore, true to the nature of Nichiren, his exile to Sado Island created even more noble ways and deepened his spirituality to an even higher level.

Sawako Utsumi, a contemporary artist who hails from northern Japan, not surprisingly is intrigued by the historical legacy of Nichiren – and the reality of exile to Sado Island. Similarly, the landscape of Sado Island and the bleakness of winter appeals to this modern Japanese artist who adores landscape art. Intriguingly, the artist is more in tune to Shintoism, while ancestors will be a mixture of both faiths. After all, the fusions of Buddhism and the Shinto faith dot the landscape and the mindset of this nation despite the impact of secularism and modernization.

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Nichiren, himself, was very independent because he believed firmly that the true path lay within his teachings based on his knowledge of the written word. This holy Buddhist cleric made many enemies based on rebuking other Buddhist schools of thought. Yet, passion, the search for truth, questioning concepts deemed false, challenging authority, equally adhered people to Nichiren.

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Nichiren said, When a tree has been transplanted, though fierce winds may blow, it will not topple if it has a firm stake to hold it up.  But even a tree that has grown up in place may fall over if its roots are weak.  Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may fall down on an uneven path.”

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Utsumi, in her art pieces titled Exiled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in the Snow and Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in Exile and Homage to Yoshitoshi, shows two completely different situations. The similar themes apply to isolation, the bleakness of nature, wintry conditions, and powerful landscapes that depict the exile of Nichiren. However, one art piece focuses on Nichiren in contemplation and feeling secure despite the wintry conditions he faces. Alternatively, the other art piece shows the brutal reality of the harshness of his exile during the severity of winter.

Therefore, the meaning of both, according to Utsumi, is the many different realities that we face in this lifetime despite much appearing the same. Once more, Utsumi is highlighting the mirage of past artists – while, at the same time, creating new intricacies based on her own stunning art.

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Nichiren said, “If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way.”

Alluding to both art pieces by Utsumi highlighted in this article, then the fire of art was lit by others. However, Utsumi brightens up the originals by playing on artistic and philosophical themes that are not easy to comprehend from the naked eye!

Lee Jay Walker

BELOW IS A NEW BOOK BASED ON THE ART OF SAWAKO UTSUMI

sawako-book-3

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.

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://sawakoart.com

Modern Japanese Artist and Buddhism: Nichiren and Isolation of Exile on Sado Island

Modern Japanese Artist and Buddhism: Nichiren and Isolation of Exile on Sado Island

nichiren-utsumi1

The contemporary Japanese artist, Sawako Utsumi, focuses in this art piece on the famous Buddhist holy man called Nichiren (1222-1282). Unlike other established Buddhist religious leaders who influenced the people of Japan, Nichiren went against the grain because he would openly rebuke other Buddhist schools of thought. Therefore, Nichiren made many enemies during his lifetime and for this reason he was exiled to Sado Island in order to contemplate the errors of his ways.

However, true to Nichiren the exile on Sado Island provided this holy man with new religious insights. At the same time, it did not infringe on his belief that he held the right path in this complex world. Given this reality, the stunning art piece based on Nichiren in exile by Utsumi illuminates this period of his life.

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I comment in a past article, “Many amazing attributes and mysteries apply to Nichiren. After all, he escaped a brutal execution where so many others fell before him. This reality is based on the realms of nature but hidden within the mystery of life. Similarly, Nichiren predicted the Mongol invasion and challenged all and sundry where others would fear.”

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Not surprisingly, Utsumi, in her art piece titled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in Exile and Homage to Yoshitoshi, focuses on the original by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892 – above image by Yoshitoshi). Yet, despite this reality, more light in relation to his robes is noticeable and the same applies to a slightly bigger gap where Nichiren is contemplating many things deeply. These differences are minor but the meaning equates to a growing enlightenment that will open to a much wider audience based on the passages of time – despite his exile threatening much during this period of his lifetime.  Intriguingly, also, the sky is darker by Utsumi and this equally is based on the radiant robes of Nichiren that transcends night and day.

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The main tenets of Nichiren apply to absorption, learning, tranquility, and the notion of Buddhahood. Sado Island, therefore, provided Nichiren with more time to contemplate the bigger picture. This reality can be seen in the original by Yoshitoshi and further extended by Utsumi based on more lightness despite the darkness of the time for this holy religious leader.

Lee Jay Walker

Please email Sawako Utsumi at sawakoart@gmail.com

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ABOVE IS A NEW BOOK BASED ON THE ART OF SAWAKO UTSUMI

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.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/buddhist-cleric-nichiren-in-exile-and-homage-to-yoshitoshi-sawako-utsumi.html

http://sawakoart.com

 

Japanese Shinto Shrine and Isolated Buddhist Monk by Sawako Utsumi

Japanese Shinto Shrine and Isolated Buddhist Monk by Sawako Utsumi

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Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) utilized part of his art by focusing on simplicity but within the realm of sophistication based on hidden meanings. Of course, individuals can create, or shatter the myths of hidden meanings and in this sense only Sekka will know the answer. However, the beauty of art is that people can provide their own meanings. Therefore, Sawako Utsumi focuses on this angle.

In this adorable art piece by Sawako she focuses on the fusions of the original image by Sekka but adds her own dimensions based on the mountain backdrop and the Shinto shrine. Yet, is the Buddhist monk yearning for the shrine – or is it solely based on paying respect?

Given the weather conditions, highlighted by the monk, then what do you think?

Lee Jay Walker

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/japanese-shrine-and-isolated-monk-sawako-utsumi.html

http://sawakoart.com