Art Of Buddhism and Shintoism sharing the same Japanese Tree

Art Of Buddhism and Shintoism sharing the same Japanese Tree

Unlike the Islamist sword that cut down the tree of Buddhism and Hinduism in Afghanistan and other parts of Asia, the faiths and philosophies of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism have impacted greatly on Japan. Of course, the impact of all four had golden periods. Hence, while Confucianism and Taoism remain embedded in various areas of Japanese culture to varying degrees, it is Buddhism and Shintoism that remains firmly in the mindset.

In the latest art piece by the contemporary Japanese artist Sawako Utsumi, she reflects and deflects the reality of nature in various ways. On the one hand, the holy men walking towards a temple and shrine highlight the Buddhist and Shinto theme. However, the natural angle is based on reflecting reality.

For example, rather than heavy snow on the mountaintop, the snow is thicker on lowland areas. Equally, the adorable pink tree in the middle of the Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine is more akin to a warmer climate and different season. Likewise, the misty lowland scene and lovely blue skyline are meant to resemble the fusions and confusions of life.

Nichiren, one of the most famous holy Buddhist teachers from the land of the rising sun, uttered, “Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering, and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds.”

Likewise, despite the climatic conditions and skyline of Utsumi’s art piece appearing outside the norm of nature, the holy men of Buddhism and Shintoism remain unbending. Similarly, the attitude of Utsumi towards art neither craves recognition or material gain. Therefore, the spirit of the kami flows naturally between European and Japanese themes for Utsumi; the upshot is that chaos and conformity are just nuances to be expressed and manipulated.

Overall, the art piece titledArt Of Buddhism and Shintoism sharing the same Japanese Tree,” is not only extremely beautiful to the eye, but it is also aesthetically appealing based on the chaos theory. Yet, while the chaos theory exists the beauty of Utsumi is that continuity is equally important. This is based on Buddhism and Shintoism that flows naturally in Japan, even if the words and edicts are vague to non-existent depending on applying to each respective faith.

Written by Lee Jay Walker

BELOW 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/exiled-buddhist-cleric-nichiren-in-the-snow-sawako-utsumi.html – Exiled Buddhist Cleric Nichiren in the Snow

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/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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Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire through Japanese eyes: Buddhism, Christianity, and Shintoism

Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire through Japanese eyes: Buddhism, Christianity, and Shintoism

The contemporary Japanese artist, Sawako Utsumi, who hails from Northern Japan, once more creates a lovely art piece. Spiritually, her background is based on Shintoism and tinged with Buddhism based on the cultural legacy. Yet, in general, the Shinto faith predominates despite paying deep respect during her visit to Buddhist temples. However, aspects of Christianity also appeal to Utsumi, even if this is in the cultural realm and based on small Christian churches appearing like folk Shintoism.

Unsurprisingly, Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire appealed greatly to Utsumi based on visual images of this Grade I listed building. In her mindset, the terrible events of the Dissolution (1536-1541) – or the Dissolution of the Monasteries – can be understood, to a degree, by the stunning grounds and buildings that remain of Fountains Abbey. This relates to the legacy of the spiritual effect that Fountains Abbey is still blessed with despite the terrible events of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

In other words, the secularization of modern-day Japan and the United Kingdom are creating a religious vacuum that is being entered by new “soulless cultures.” The upshot of this is that major Christian Cathedrals in the United Kingdom – just like potent Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in places like Koyasan, Kyoto, Nara, Nikko, and others – are important popular windows into a past that is often far-away from everyday life. Hence, these major centers of religion in Japan and the United Kingdom are still attracting countless numbers of people; despite vast numbers of ordinary Buddhist, Christian, and Shinto holy places struggling to attract worshippers in big numbers. However, often people who visit or pray are disconnected with the real tenets of the respective faiths based on secularization and modernization.

One can only imagine the utter devastation and disconnection felt by many Christian holy people and lay people during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Likewise, in post World War Two in the land of the rising sun, it is clear that Buddhism and Shintoism were put on a back burner. This is based on the demands of America put on Japan and the collaboration of Japanese political elites. Therefore, the new mantra focused heavily on modernization and high technology fused with many precepts that apply to Confucian logic in the realm of ethics and educational attainment.

The New Statesman reports, “It is said that Japanese marry in a Shinto ritual and live life with Confucian ethics, and the deceased is buried and its soul is transformed into ancestors in a Buddhist ritual. These three events are essential factors in a person’s life and the Japanese religions are centered round these three elements, birth, living and death.”

Hence, just like Shinto focuses on ancestors, Utsumi witnesses Fountains Abbey based on a plethora of different factors. For example, the spiritual realm of Fountains Abbey survives both the Dissolution of the Monasteries and modern-day secularization. Therefore, despite Fountains Abbey being but a shadow of a once thriving Christian holy place, just like Shinto ancestors that have long perished, the spiritual psyche remains potent based on the connection of the senses.

Utsumi is utilizing the life of the river by imbuing this flowing continuity inside the remnants of what is left of Fountains Abbey. In this sense, the power of nature in Shinto is a duality of the river within the spiritual mindset when visualizing – or visiting – the delightful Fountains Abbey. In other words, despite the passages of time the spiritual dimension of Fountains Abbey remains potent – just like nature – despite the countless upheavals done by humanity.

Overall, the end result is a delightful art piece by Utsumi who is fusing many themes. This is witnessed by the equal importance of the flowing life of the river that represents the spirituality that Fountains Abbey is blessed with, despite the terrible events of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Therefore, nature and spirituality come together to create a multi-dimensional effect to this gorgeous art piece by Utsumi.

Lee Jay Walker

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/fountains-abbey-in-yorkshire-through-japanese-eyes-sawako-utsumi.html

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

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/spirit-of-shinto-and-ukiyo-e-in-the-light-of-nature-sawako-utsumi.html

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https://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-faith-column/2007/06/birth-life-japanese-shinto

 

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

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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

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