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


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



Japanese Art, Still Life, Pythagoras and Plotinus: Kishida, Koide and Utsumi

Japanese Art, Still Life, Pythagoras and Plotinus: Kishida, Koide and Utsumi


Still life art became a specific specialization within Western art by the final decades of the sixteenth century. Of course, this artistic theme can be traced back to Ancient Graeco-Roman art and within various elements of other cultures. However, this applies to various angles and diversions from what contemporary art deems to be still life. Interestingly, Sawako Utsumi (top art piece), a modern contemporary artist hailing from Sendai, Japan, fuses the ancient Greek world within her simplistic, but philosophical, art piece.

Art itself is based on chaos, culture, creativity, order, religion, philosophy, individualism, time, various art forms, structure, the inner self – and a host of other factors that can’t be constrained indefinitely. Sadly, within culture, art can easily be suppressed by religious dogma and political philosophies that abhor freedom. Indeed, in parts of the modern world various Sunni Takfiri Islamist movements are literally erasing architecture, art and high culture. At the same time, one-party states like modern China often infringe on the freedom of expression, when deemed to be aimed at political dogma.


The three artists in this article apply to two firmly past established artists and one contemporary artist, who is still experimenting and preserving her diversity based on current internal constraints. Koide Narashige (1887-1931) and Kishida Ryusei (1891-1929) belong to the same period of Japanese history. Similarly, both artists died relatively young and one can only imagine how both artists would have evolved. However, despite this reality, Kishida and Koide leave a lasting legacy based on many amazing art pieces that both individuals created.

In the art piece by Utsumi Sawako (Sawako Utsumi), titled “Simplicity of Beauty,” the real meaning is missed because the philosophical dimension doesn’t appear visible when viewed head on. Yet, the spiritual and philosophical dimension of Utsumi comes full circle based on the utter simplicity of the art piece.


Of course, individuals can give any meaning they desire and likewise others can claim that the natural reality is all that matters. Despite this, the significance of three and one within the philosophy of Pythagoras and Plotinus is extremely significant. Indeed, the trinity of Christianity within a Pythagoras worldview, and the one God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam – with Judaism and Islam resembling solely the purity of Plotinus, all gained enormously by the richness of the Greek world at various stages throughout history.

According to Pythagoras the number three is of extreme nobility because it is the only number that is equal to all the numbers that are immediately below it. Similarly, the final sum of three is the only number whose sum with those below equals the product of them and itself.” Therefore, the Christian trinity and its power can be viewed differently in the old world of Pythagoras. Likewise, according to Plotinus – and other Neo-Platonists – the number one is the source of all existence and reality. In other words, the number one equates to the number that resembles God and is the basis for all other numbers.

plotinos-1  pythagoras-1
Utsumi cleverly plays on the rich philosophical history of Pythagoras and Plotinus. Also, the blot near the symbol of Plotinus in her art piece relates to other faiths that don’t follow the same theme. After all, Utsumi hails from a land where Shintoism and Buddhism don’t follow the same logic of either one God – nor acknowledge the power of the trinity. Given this reality, the blot relates to other thought patterns and while appearing to have lesser importance, in reality the value is equally valid. Therefore, while the legacy and fame of Kishida and Koide are powerful within Japanese art, this article is mainly based on the ideas of a modern artist who currently remains in the shadow.

Lee Jay Walker

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sawako-utsumi.html – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, post cards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests.


http://sawakoart.com Sawako Utsumi website

Japanese Art and Mirage of Kamisaka Sekka by Sawako Utsumi

Japanese Art and Mirage of Kamisaka Sekka by Sawako Utsumi


The sublime simplicity of art by Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942) is a wonder to behold. This reality is behind my art piece because this Japanese artist illuminated the art world of my native country in the last century. Of course, other amazing Japanese artists have blessed the art world but the simplicity and sophistication of Sekka is really special.

In my art piece the individual could be searching on a religious quest, equally he could be lost and tired – or merely the individual could be going home in order to rest from the harsh weather conditions. Other factors can equally be imagined and in a sense this is the beauty of Sekka because the real meaning is often left to the individual. Indeed, maybe no meaning exists because in time all moments are lost based on the reality of death.

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sawako-utsumi.html – Sawako Utsumi and where you can buy her art, post cards, bags, and other products. Also, individuals can contact her for individual requests.