Floral Beauty in Buddhist Art: An Exhibit

 

“Floral Beauty in Buddhist Art,” an exhibition which opened at the Nezu Museum in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama neighborhood, is a delightful show that explores the world of Buddhism — an essential feature of Japanese culture — through floral depictions.

 

Among the works in the show is the Eight Episodes in the Buddha’s Life, which illustrates the scene of the birth of the Buddha (Prince Siddhartha), who was born from his mother’s side as she stood holding the branch of the beautifully-flowered Ashoka tree with her right hand. Then there are 28 additional Buddhist paintings worthy of attention on display at the exhibition.

 

It is well-suited to see as the spring season unfolds, with depictions of Buddha-related flowers, such as the lotus, the sal tree, imaginary flowers, and even the sakura — a symbol of Japan.

 

The weather in India, Buddha’s native country, is very different from Japan, thus there are flowers in India that do not grow in Japan. However, Japanese devotees have incorporated various kinds of native Japanese flowers into Buddhist art since the religion’s introduction to the country.

 

The paintings in the show illustrate how the faith transformed into its own unique style once it reached Japan. The exhibition will give you a moment to reflect on India, Japan, and Buddhism from new points of views.  

 

Besides paintings, there are several Buddhist implements decorated with lotus flowers, such as ritual boxes, alter fittings and a flower petal basket on display.

 

The former Prince Takeda family hina dolls, displayed in a different gallery, are also a must-see. Hina dolls add color to Japan’s ambience during springtime. The dolls in the set on display along with miniature furnishings, are amazing to view and surely among the best-crafted hina doll artworks that exist.  

 

A stroll in the garden, acknowledged as a true urban oasis, is another treat at the Nezu Museum. Engage in the indulgence of a quiet walk and enjoy the beauty of this Japanese garden, with its trees, ponds, and teahouses, where the atmosphere will bring you serenity.

 

The show runs through March 31. Additional information on the exhibition may be found here.

 

Entrance fees are ¥1,100 JPY for adults and ¥800 JPY for students. The museum hours are 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. daily (last entrance 4:30 P.M.). The museum is closed on Mondays. Additional information on access may be found here.

 

 

Author: Yukihiro Watanabe  

 

 

Yukihiro Watanabe

Author:

Yukihiro Watanabe, JAPAN Forward advisor, is the organizer of Gillie Club, a members-only club that offers a platform for cultural and social exchange and interactions among people with similar interests. He is also chief editor of Labunraku, a web portal supporting the traditional form of Japanese puppet theatre, Bunraku; a producer of events for novice Japanese culture enthusiasts; a visiting professor at Tama University Research Institute; and also serves as executive director for Ryori Volunteer No Kai (Food Volunteer Group), a foundation where member chefs visit disaster areas in Japan and serve food.  

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