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Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Hakone is a very popular tourist destination because you have so many places to visit and the views of Mount Fuji in certain locations are extremely stunning. Throughout Hakone you have many museums and cultural wise the area is very rich in history. This certainly applies to Hakone Jinja (Hakone Shrine) whereby the Shinto faith blends naturally with nature. Also, the historical treasure museum based on the rich history of Hakone Jinja is certainly worth visiting because you have several amazing gems to view.

Hakone Jinja (Hakone Gongen) highlights all the natural beauty of Shinto and how nature and the gods work in unison in this religion. The backdrop of Lake Ashi, the mountain landscape and Mount Fuji breaking out from certain vantage points is absolutely stunning. Therefore, you can feel the strong connection between nature and the mystical charms of the Shinto faith.

The exact date when the foundation of Hakone Shrine was created remains debatable but clearly it dates back to the eighth century. This means that this amazing religious place was built during the Nara Period (710-794) which is fitting for such an important shrine. After all, while Kyoto may hog the limelight for being significant in Japanese culture the truth of the matter is that the Nara Period is where high culture began. This isn’t undermining the exquisite beauty and richness of Kyoto but clearly the majesty of Kyoto built on the firm foundations of the Nara Period.

Mystical holy men in the eighth century called yamabushi believed that gods dwelled in mountains that were extremely steep. Therefore, by dwelling in the same places it was hoped that ascetic practices fused with the dwelling gods would lead to magical powers and greater knowledge. Not surprisingly, Hakone Jinja with its ideal location and mysterious majesty was a place where the dwelling gods may be found according to the traditions of the yamabushi.

During the ninth century new forces were entering the Japanese psyche because Esoteric Buddhism from China was making an impact. This notably applies to Kukai (774-835) and Saicho (767-822) and once more the importance of the mountain landscape is abundantly obvious. Therefore, a fusion began to take place between the Shinto faith and its animistic nature alongside esoteric Buddhism in parts of Japan.

Mountain asceticism under Kukai in Wakayama was also powerful. Meanwhile,  in eastern Japan, and this notably applies to Hakone and Nikko, the same asceticism could be found despite the thought patterns being different. According to history Priest Mangan travelled extensively to spread the Buddhist faith and in 757 he reached Hakone and during his stay very powerful events occurred in his life. This applies to having many encounters with the yamabushi during his three years in Hakone and learning new ascetic ways. However, the real lasting legacy applies to a revelation that Priest Mangan had.

In this revelation which occurred during a dream the fusion of many ideas manifested itself and the outcome was very important. The revelation in his dream stated that “Your heart is pure and clean. Let’s deliver mankind with the grace of Shinto and Buddhist deities.” This revelation impacted greatly on him and he notified the emperor who in turn valued the meaning fully. Therefore, the emperor notified Priest Mangan to build a shrine at once in order to fulfill the revelation and hence this is the origin of this holy Shinto shrine.

Issues related to when the foundations first began or if Priest Mangan incorporated older Shinto shrines remains open. However, major changes did occur during the stay of Priest Mangan and from this date onwards many powerful individuals in Japanese history understood the power of this place.

If you visit the small treasure museum associated with the Hakone Jinja then important individuals in Japanese history like Emperor Hanayama (968-1008); Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199); Toyotomi Hideyoshi who died in 1598; Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616); and many others, will be highlighted. The treasure museum may only be small but you have many gems inside and the images are extremely beautiful.

Indeed, maybe the mysticism of Shintoism is at play because irrespective of language constraints and the size of the treasure museum; providing you stand back and take in what you visualize then the visit will stay with you. This notably applies to the five items which have been ranked with having national Important Cultural Property.

Hakone is an extremely beautiful part of Japan and takes only 90 minutes by a special express train from Shinjuku. Your options and the special Hakone transport pass from the Odakyu train company means that your stay is convenient. Also, you can utilize the many forms of transport which are available when you buy this special transport pass.

Hakone is situated in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and the entire region is a tourist paradise whereby stunning nature is in all directions and you have so many cultural treasures to view. This notably applies to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; volcanically active Owakudani geysers; Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands; Odawara Castle Donjon; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in HakoneHakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History; and you have a wealth of parks and special walks to go on.

In Hakone you have countless options and of course if you stay several days to a week then you won’t be disappointed because the countless amazing views will refresh you throughout your stay. The religious angle of the Shinto faith and cultural importance of the entire area fuses naturally with the stunning landscape.

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/qtours/hakone_course2.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html

http://www.hakone.or.jp/english/index.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/rc/index.html

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm

ALL IMAGES BELONG TO MODERN TOKYO TIMES

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Japan

 

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Hokusai and Hakone: Ukiyo-e and stunning scenery

Hokusai and Hakone: Ukiyo-e and stunning scenery

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Katsushika Hokusai was a sublime Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker and his art had many faces and styles.  However, when you think about the stunning nature of Hakone then the refined art of Hokusai springs to mind.

Alternatively, if you close your eyes and think about Hokusai’s shunga then you can enter seedy areas of Tokyo and images of Kabukicho come to mind.  Obviously both images may be an illusion but Hokusai’s art does have many sides and similar ukiyo-e artists went down the same path.

Hokusai clearly loved the view of Mount Fuji and visiting stunning places of natural beauty and both factors certainly apply to Hakone.  After all, Hakone rests within the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and in certain parts of Hakone you can witness sublime views of Mount Fuji.  Therefore, the entire region would inspire any exquisite artist to create picturesque scenes and clearly Hokusai fits the bill perfectly because he loved to express his passion for stunning views of nature.

The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and The Great Wave off Kanagawa are pure masterpieces in different ways.  Therefore, it is clear that Kanagawa is a potent region for spectacular scenery and a magnet for any artist who loves majestic views. Also, the size of the area means that views change quickly but remain to be a wonder to behold because of the natural beauty of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.   

International tourists and Japanese tourists head to Hakone because of the richness of the area which provides unbelievable backdrops amidst the mountain range and abundance of nature.  Not only this, Hakone is blessed with a plethora of places to visit and you can appreciate the richness of Japanese culture by visiting one of the many museums which are dotted around the main tourist areas.

It is easy to imagine Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige and a host of other famous ukiyo-e artists wandering around the Hakone region during their brief time on this earth.  However, despite the briefness of life Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other artists, have clearly left a strong and powerful legacy. 

In this sense, these famous artists have fused aspects of their life within the beautiful mountain ranges and landscapes of Kanagawa.  Therefore, the immortality of Mount Fuji is enjoined by the “immortality of art” by artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige who have inspired so many people and provided glimpses into the real Japan.

On a windless night you can imagine artists in the sweltering heat of summer and in the stillness of winter you can feel the changing temperature and how their feelings will have infringed on their art. 

The spirit world exists to some people but for others you have nothing but the ending of all life and only memories of others and the legacy of a rare few last more than one single lifetime.  Either way, you can feel that Hokusai and Hiroshige, and other sublime ukiyo-e artists, are still alive because of the powerful images they left behind and while the first love often fades into dust the beauty of art remains.

Hakone is not just a tourist destination it is about “your Hakone” and this applies to escaping the mundaneness of life or stresses of life which often eats away at people.  Obviously, for some tourists they may prefer to follow the usual routes taken by many and this applies to the main tourist attractions and plethora of places to visit.

However, for others a walk or hiking is their preference and for others they will want to find solitude.  Alternatively, the hot springs attract many individuals and some people desire to refresh themselves by enjoying the soothing reality of hot springs and if lucky enough you can find a special hot spring surrounded by stunning nature.

Hokusai had desired more time on this earth in order to express the stunning reality of nature and his art was like the most delicious wine because he continued to mature throughout his entire life. 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa shows the potent power of nature and just like the frailty of life the chaotic reality of life infringed on Hokusai.  This applies to the devastating fire which destroyed Hokusai’s studio and much of his lifelong work was destroyed in a single moment of chaos.

Luckily for humanity not all was destroyed and obviously many art pieces will have been bought before this tragic fire but much was lost.  Therefore, the frailty and chaotic nature of life which had taken away people who were dear to Hokusai now ravaged is “very being” and this must have impacted on his thinking.

At the ripe old age of 87 Hokusai had completed the Ducks in a Stream and he yearned for more time on this earth. Yet only God is mortal or the imagination which believes in God or gods creates this mortality irrespective if it is a reality or an illusion. 

However, the symbolism of Mount Fuji and its impact on Japan means that a special spirit or energy exists within this mountain.  In a sense, Mount Fuji is immortal and Hokusai, Hiroshige, and others, entered the immortality of the mind of others by their stunning art work.

Therefore, while each generation will turn to dust certain factors will remain because all cultures hand something down and preserve the best of humanity.  This certainly applies to Hokusai who not only left a rich legacy for the Japanese people but he left a rich legacy for the best of international humanity.

Hokusai showed glimpses of the beauty of this world through aspects of his work while shunga focused on the lustiness of humanity or the reality of sexuality, depending on your thinking.

On his deathbed Hokusai uttered “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

In reality it would matter not, another five years or ten years because Hokusai had already left a rich legacy and the chaotic nature of life could not guarantee a fruitful extra five or ten years.  Therefore, the last moments of Hokusai’s life was tinged with the hope of more time but sooner or later God is going to knock on your door and what was, is no longer.

In 1849 Hokusai died but Nichiren Buddhism, Mount Fuji and the stunning and mystical mountains of Japan had served him well.  All these factors, and others, made him what he became and after death his candle did not burn out because the brightness he left still flickers strongly and will continue to do so.

This life is not mortal but images like The Great Wave off Kanagawa and other work by Hokusai means that his art is immortal. 

Language restricts humanity because of the plethora of languages but art at its best can defeat this because images can be viewed irrespective of the constraints of language. 

Therefore, a visit to Hakone is a real treat for people who reside in Tokyo or for tourists visiting Tokyo.  After all, Hakone only takes 90 minutes from Shinjuku by the Odakyu Limited Express “Romancecar.” 

In a different article about Hakone I state that “The “Romancecar” is a great way to travel because you can relax in comfort and you have a drinks and food service which caters for your needs.  Also, the Hakone Free-pass is a must because it provides great value and you can use it for 7 types of different transport.” 

“This applies to the Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Tozan Line, and other forms of transport.  Therefore, you can hop on and off different forms of transport and the scenic views from the Hakone Ropeway and Hakone Tozan Line is stunning; the different forms-of-transport also adds to your holiday because the quaint train journey is pleasurable by itself.”

“Hakone is home to famous spas and is located in a large historical zone and when you include this to the stunning nature of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and cultural attractions on offer; then it is clear to see why Hakone is so popular.”

The art legacy of people like Hokusai is another major attraction and while Hokusai’s time on this earth was between 1760 and 1849; you can feel close to him in places like Hakone because of the connection of his artwork with the stunning reality of Hakone.

If you want to fuse a sublime holiday based on art, history, and stunning scenery then Hakone is the place to visit. The main museums apply to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in Hakone; Hakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; and Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History.

Other places to visit include the volcanically active Owakudani geysers, Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands, Hakone-jinja shrine and Treasure Museum, Odawara Castle Donjon, and many stunning parks and gardens can be found throughout Hakone.

The Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and surrounding area is a tourist paradise and given the comfort provided by the Odakyu train company which offers a fantastic service via the special Hakone pass; then you can enjoy quality time and make the most of what Hakone provides and at the same time you can travel easily because of services provided by the Odakyu train company.

Overall, Hakone is a magical place and Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other famous ukiyo-e artists, may have turned to dust a long time ago but their energy and passion is alive by the legacy of their respective artwork. 

In Hakone and the surrounding region you can get close to their world because of the connection with the images that they left behind. 

http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm   (Hokusai)

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/qtours/hakone_course2.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html  

http://www.hakone.or.jp/english/index.html

http://www.odakyu.jp/english/rc/index.html  

http://moderntokyotimes.com  please visit

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Japan

 

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Katsushika Hokusai and Nobuyoshi Araki: Who is the more erotic? Part 3 of Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai and Nobuyoshi Araki: Who is the more erotic?  Part 3 of Hokusai

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Katsushika Hokusai was born in 1760 and Nobuyoshi Araki was born in 1940 and today Araki still continues to take photo images. Hokusai is famously known throughout the world for The Great Wave off Kanagawa and his Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. However, Araki is known for his sexual images and the unique erotic styles that he often takes but Araki is much more diverse than this because his work involves many different forms of photography.

Hokusai and Araki were born in different Japan’s but sexual artistic flair can be witnessed by both individuals because sexual images and erotic art forms belong to aspects of their respective work. 

Both individuals were born in Tokyo and while Hokusai is famous for non-erotic forms of art to most lay people the same can’t be said about Araki because Tokyo Lucky Hole is either extremely erotic or pornographic depending on your viewpoint. 

Irrespective if we use the word “erotic” or “pornographic” because people have different sensibilities the fact remains that Araki is extremely gifted and creative.  Like all photographers the artist will either appeal or not appeal. However, Araki is clearly showing a sexual and seedy side of Tokyo which not only exists but is quite prevalent in many main areas in modern day Tokyo.

Their different art forms can’t be compared because both were born in very different societies and technology, thought patterns, environmental differences and countless other factors, means that it is unfair to compare and counterproductive.

However, it is abundantly clear that the “erotic” side of aspects of their work is a uniting factor and both are famous sons of Tokyo. Yet, in the image of most art lovers both clearly have a distinctive connotation and mystery and while the “erotic” and seedy side of Tokyo creates image of Araki in the mind; it is clear that for most people Hokusai is deemed to be “a classical artist” and one of the most famous artists that graced the soil of Japan. 

Indeed the word “artist” and “contemporary artist” is also subjective because while Hokusai will smoothly fit into the word “artist” you will have different opinions towards Araki.  This applies to stating that Araki is a “contemporary artist” but for conservative individuals Araki will be tainted by the word “pornography.” Also, the vagueness of “contemporary artist” means that it is difficult to define in the absolute sense because different thought patterns view the world differently.  

The first time I ever saw work by Araki was in Manchester, England, when I viewed Tokyo Lucky Hole when I was around 19 years old.  My first impression, and coming from a non-artist background at the time, was “wow” and these ladies look “so hot” therefore for myself I viewed this to be pornographic when I was young but I did find it in the art section.

However, the more you view aspects of Araki’s work then it does become abundantly clear that in his field he is extremely talented and not everything is what it seems. 

In my article called “Nobuyoshi Araki shows the cultural side of Tokyo in the flesh” I state that Araki “…goes much further because this famous photographer opens up a Tokyo which is often neglected or not imagined.  He also fuses his photography with the landscape of Tokyo amidst naked bodies or ladies being tied up and his imagery is clearly powerful.”

“Therefore, Nobuyoshi Araki is also focusing on the emptiness of entertainment districts and the sex industry; albeit from an erotic human form and the energy and visual nature of his photography expresses many emotions.”

“Like any artist; people will see different things within his photography and while some people will gain from his works others may reject him on various grounds.  However, if you look deeper into his work then Nobuyoshi Araki is providing a real glimpse into a Tokyo which exists and not only this, he does this by creating a rare energy within simplistic and complex themes.”

Hokusai is in reverse because my first contact with the work of Hokusai was when I viewed The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Fuji in Clear Weather and this was followed by the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Immediately I liked Hokusai because the sheer power of The Great Wave off Kanagawa was striking.  I therefore believed that Hokusai was similar to John Constable (a classical artist from England who was born in 1776) who painted The Hay Wain and Dedham Vale and many other classic paintings.

Yet, many years later I viewed the The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Hokusai and other images from Kinoe No Komatsu which is a collection of shunga.  I was shocked because I never understood this side of Hokusai and The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is not only erotic but it mind boggling because of the perverse nature of what is happening.  

In my article called “Katsushika Hokusai and erotic art: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (Part 2 of Hokusai)” I comment that “The image shows a lady who was deemed to be a shell diver (ama) with her legs wide apart while the fully grown octopus performs cunnilingus.  She is fully naked and her breasts and hairy pussy are clearly visible and her body is clearly welcoming both the fully grown octopus and the small and younger octopus.”

“The eyes of the fully grown octopus are really striking because while performing cunnilingus on the lady it is clear that the eyes are fully focused on her face and pleasure and satisfaction belong to both.”

“It is suggested that the small octopus may be the son and if so then this makes the sexual experience even more erotic to some or alternatively “on the edge” for others.  Either way, only Hokusai really knows the role of the small octopus but it is clear that the lady is enjoying the power of the fully grown octopus and the magical touch of the younger octopus which is fondling her nipple and mouth.”

“Her face depicts complete sexual bliss and in the image it appears that nature and humans are one and the same.  Yes, visually different; however, enjoying the sexual experience together.”                                                                                  

“The image which is graphic is also based on consent, pleasure, joy, and bliss.”

Other images by Hokusai are also extremely sexual and graphic between people having sex and maybe just like Araki showing the seedy side of modern Tokyo it could be said that Hokusai was also doing the same.  However, the image where a woman is happily spreading her pussy so that she can feel the pleasure of an octopus and clearly feeling orgasmic; then for myself this image is not only mind boggling it is mysterious, perverse, erotic and showing images of pleasure all into one image. 

The scholar Danielle Talerico desires to put this image into the context of the Princess Tamatori story which was well-known in the Edo period. However, Hokusai may have played on this in order to create something else because in the Princess Tamatori story she dies from her wounds.  However, in Hokusai’s work it is clear that sexual pleasure and mutual gratification is taking place and the image does not show fear.

This is getting away from the point of Hokusai and Araki and the question of who is the more erotic.  Of course, people will have different opinions and again time, environment and other factors will make the judgment difficult.

Also, because of the very nature of art and different thought patterns then some may deem Hokusai to be “a master artist” or “a perverted artist” when it came to shunga. The same applies to Araki because to some people his work is “erotic art” but to others it is “pornography” and not artistic. Also, can aspects of pornography be deemed to be artistic?

This minefield does not belong to this article and despite all the sexual images by Araki I believe that Hokusai’s work was more erotic and this applies to many images from his Kinoe No Komatsu collection.  More to the point, the image of The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is in a different dimension to anything that Araki created.

Obviously both individuals have created their work within themselves and their respective work is not based on competition with anyone.  However, the point is that while Hokusai remains within the fold of “classical artist” it is clear that Araki “is on the edge” and either he is well liked or disregarded. 

Yet, if Araki is disregarded based on his subject matter then clearly the same does not apply to Hokusai.  Both individual have opened up a door to “a hidden Japan” which is “not so hidden” for people who reside in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. 

However, when it comes to erotic images then The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife by Hokusai takes some beating and the power of this image remains today.

 

http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm   (Hokusai)

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm  (Hokusai)

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/05/31/katsushika-hokusai-japanese-artist-with-a-rich-legacy-part-one/  

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/06/03/katsushika-hokusai-and-erotic-art-the-dream-of-the-fisherman%e2%80%99s-wife-part-2-of-hokusai/

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/04/02/nobuyoshi-araki-shows-the-cultural-side-of-tokyo-in-the-flesh/

http://fantomatik75.blogspot.com/2010/02/les-cordes-nobuyashi-araki.html (images taken from this website when applies to Araki but photos remain within the search engine but problems with modern website)

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Japan

 

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Katsushika Hokusai and erotic art: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (Part 2 of Hokusai)

Katsushika Hokusai and erotic art: The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (Part 2 of Hokusai)

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Katsushika Hokusai was born in 1760 and died in 1849 and this most splendid of artists created many different art forms and the imagery from the two most striking pieces of his art could not be more different.

Hokusai was a Nichiren Buddhist and just like Nichiren himself; he had a complex nature and he is not easy to pin down or label.  It is true to say that he was always consistent when applied to producing art and even when he was 87 years of age he completed the Ducks in a Stream.

Even on his deathbed it is clear that Hokusai’s love of life and art still shone bright within his soul and heart. 

When Hokusai was close to death he stated “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

Hokusai had many talents and he learnt the trade from a very early age.  His talents apply to being a sublime Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and a printmaker. 

His Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and love of Nichiren Buddhism shows an individual who was at one with nature and the mysteries of life.  For Hokusai the mountains were a place of mystery and the Shinto gods and the majesty of nature surrounding Mount Fuji; meant that he could use the stunning scenery and fuse this with ideas from a hidden world.

The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji include the magnificent and powerful masterpiece called The Great Wave off Kanagawa and other potent images which showed the landscape to be truly magical include Fuji in Clear Weather.

If this artwork is viewed in isolation then “the real” Hokusai is missing because while Hokusai connected with nature in all its majesty he also had a different side.  This applies to Hokusai’s erotic art and his images were extremely strong from a mainstream European artist point of view in this period.

This in itself shows you the constraints and freedoms “within many nations in Europe” when it came to mainstream art in this period, when applied to erotica.  However, in Japan erotic images and the view of sexuality was very different and the same applies to homosexuality in this period because Japan was much more liberal when it came to sexuality and many a Edo leader had male concubines.

However, The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is not only erotica it is a powerful image of female sexuality and joy. This joy and sexuality, however, is by a fully grown octopus and a very young octopus.

The erotic woodcut even shocks today and the imagery is very potent and full of erotica alongside mystery and a world unknown.  This form of art belongs to the ukiyo-e genre and shunga was a powerful force in erotica in Japan during the Edo period because it was a good way to earn money for an aspiring artist. 

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is the most striking image from Kinoe no Komatsu which was a collection of shunga and it was published in three volumes from the year 1814.

The image shows a lady who was deemed to be a shell diver (ama) with her legs wide apart while the fully grown octopus performs cunnilingus.  She is fully naked and her breasts and hairy pussy are clearly visible and her body is clearly welcoming both the fully grown octopus and the small and younger octopus.

The eyes of the fully grown octopus are really striking because while performing cunnilingus on the lady it is clear that the eyes are fully focused on her face and pleasure and satisfaction belong to both.

It is suggested that the small octopus may be the son and if so then this makes the sexual experience even more erotic to some or alternatively “on the edge” for others.  Either way, only Hokusai really knows the role of the small octopus but it is clear that the lady is enjoying the power of the fully grown octopus and the magical touch of the younger octopus which is fondling her nipple and mouth.

Her face depicts complete sexual bliss and in the image it appears that nature and humans are one and the same.  Yes, visually different; however, enjoying the sexual experience together.

The image which is graphic is also based on consent, pleasure, joy, and bliss.

The interpretation of what is really happening is very diverse and art specialists and critics have various opinions.

Also, given the imagery of The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife then for some people it is a masterpiece but for others it is depravity and of course you will have a multitude of opinions about this image with was produced in the early nineteenth century by Hokusai.

The scholar Danielle Talerico is trying to put this image within the history of the Edo period because the Princess Tamatori story was very popular in the Edo period.  However, this appears to be over simplistic because in the Tamatori story the outcome is very different and the sea creatures are chasing Tamatori and in the end she dies from her wound.

Hokusai does mention above the image in his work that the octopus will take the lady to Ryujin’s undersea palace but Hokusai could have just adapted his image and played around with this story.  Or, the Ryujin’s undersea world may be a world which was seen differently by Hokusai.

Unlike the negative outcome of Princess Tamatori it is clear that sexual pleasure and mutual gratification is taking place and unless this is part of the original story then the reasons may never be known.

After all, in art you have many images of Jesus but not all images have the same meaning and for some contemporary artists they may be mocking Jesus or seeing Jesus in their own eyes.  It is only natural that artists will borrow from their culture but it does not mean that the images of their art have the same meaning.

Artists in Japan before Hokusai and after Hokusai have shown sexual scenes between females and cephalopods and within the lifetime of Hokusai another artist, Yanagawa Shigenobu, also created an image whereby a lady is being seduced and pleasured by an octopus.

Therefore, the real reason behind The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife can’t be answered with certainty.

The image may have just been a fantasy or showing the learning process of sexual pleasure whereby the small octopus is just watching the master.  Or it could have been Hokusai’s love of nature whereby he fuses love within the reality of shunga but desires to say that humanity and nature are one.

Of course this can easily be rejected but without a clear answer from Hokusai then the mystery will remain.

What is clear is that The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (Other artists have given it a different name) is an image which is very potent and even today this image still shocks.

I personally think it is a masterpiece and that it will always remain a mystery.

In truth, this also adds to the striking image on display and the scene which the viewer can see because you have no clear answer but the power of the image is awesome.

http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm  (Hokusai)

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm (Hokusai)

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2011/05/31/katsushika-hokusai-japanese-artist-with-a-rich-legacy-part-one/

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 

 
 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Japan

 

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Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese artist with a rich legacy

Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese artist with a rich legacy

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

Japanese art in all its majesty can be viewed in abundance by the lifework of Katsushika Hokusai.  Hokusai was born in 1760 and he died in 1849 and despite living in the Edo period he was a free spirit from a very young age. 

Hokusai was a sublime Japanese artist, printmaker, and ukiyo-e painter and the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji represent a visual majesty of creativity. This series of artwork includes The Great Wave off Kanagawa and it was created in the 1820s.

The Great Wave of Kanagawa is a masterpiece and art lovers all over the world will know this acclaimed artwork.

Indeed, it was this print-series that made Hokusai an international figure because The Great Wave of Kanagawa and Fuji in Clear Weather showed the stunning natural beauty of Mount Fuji and the potent power of nature. 

Hokusai often changed his name and while it was common for artists to do this in this period it is clear that he took this to a different realm. 

At the age of 18 he joined the Katsukawa Shunsho studio after being a wood-carver apprentice between 14 and 18 years of age.  Shunsho practiced ukiyo-e and the central theme was images of kabuki actors and courtesans which was common for the time. 

Sadly, in the personal arena his first wife died very young and the same fate awaited his second wife. This must have impacted on Hokusai who had 5 children from both marriages.

Ironically, Hokusai developed after he was expelled from the Katsukawa School and it was during the same period that Hokusai’s interest in western art began to increase.

Hokusai stated that “What really motivated the development of my artistic style was the embarrassment I suffered at Shunkō’s hands.”

Hokusai by being forced out of Katsukawa School began to develop his own style because he now focused on landscapes and daily life in Japan and this cut across the social barrier.

After joining the Tawaraya School it dawned on him that he needed freedom from structures which while helping to enhance his skills; it also held him back from reaching the heights that were within him. 

After Hokusai published two collections based on landscapes called Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital and Eight Views of Edo.  He began to attract attention and now students began joining him in order to enhance their respective careers and to learn from a high quality artist.

The early 19th century saw Hokusai in increasing demand and for a short period he collaborated with the novelist Takizawa Bakin starting from 1807.  However, the illustrated books that they both worked on came to an end because of a clash of personality but it is notable that the publisher remained loyal to Hokusai.

In 1814 Hokusai, now named Taito (changed his name in 1811), published his manga sketches and for an artist like Hokusai this was a good way to earn money quickly and to gain more students who admired his work. 

B1820 he had published 12 volumes of manga and added another three and these consisted of thousands of drawings and many had wit within the drawings he did.  This form of manga was very popular and many drawings focused on ordinary people, religious figures, and animals and had a natural charm within the simplicity.

The 1820s would become a period of growth and in time this enabled him to obtain an international legacy but not at the time because of isolation during the Edo period.  Hokusai was now over 60 years of age but like the most delicious wine he matured magnificently and once more he had changed his name to Iitsu.

During this period he completed the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and the unforgettable and powerful Great Wave off Kanagawa was part of this celebrated masterpiece.  He also published other quality prints in the same period and this applies to Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces and A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces.

In 1834 he now changed his name to Gakyo Rojin Manji and in this period he also did major pieces of art in the area of landscape.  This applies to the One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji which added to his stature and the longevity of Hokusai also witnessed a greater spiritual dimension, where nature and the landscape seemed embedded within the soul of Hokusai.

During the last few years of his life other artists like Ando Hiroshige were emerging and in 1839 Hokusai’s studio was destroyed by fire and the fire ravaged much of his lifelong work. 

One year prior to his death he had completed the Ducks in a Stream at the ripe old age of 87 and on his deathbed he uttered the words that “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

Hokusai died in 1849 and Nichiren Buddhism, Mount Fuji and the mountains had served him throughout his life and these forces combined to make him what he became and he expressed this through art.

After death and with the opening up of Japan he would influence many European artists alongside other notable Japanese artists like Ando Hiroshige. 

Hokusai, just like the mountains and nature surrounding Mount Fuji, is timeless and today people from all over the world get great pleasure from his art. This especially applies to the 1820 and mid 1830s period whereby Hokusai expressed such stunning landscape images.

This article is part one of several articles about Hokusai and the next article will focus on the erotic side of Hokusai’s work.

http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm  (Hokusai)

http://www.hokusai-kan.com/treasure01.htm

http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)

 
 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Japan

 

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