Zen Buddhism and Art

It has been generally considered that Zen and art are totally different. However, Buddhism monks have created drawings to express the concept of their religion and used them for their missionary work. Especially in Zen, there have been created various cultures and artworks and even now they are at the bottom of Japanese culture.

Zen was brought from China by Zen monk, Eisai, who is a founder of Kennin-ji Temple, a head temple of Rinzai sect, located in Gion, Kyoto. About 800 years ago Eisai went to China (at the era of Sou) twice, learned Zen there and later was engaged in the missionary work of Zen in Japan. Old style tea manner, involved in Zen etiquettes, is the basis of the tea ceremony which is widely accepted in Japan now. Along with the tea ceremony, various other cultures such as flower arrangement, incense-smelling ceremony, handicraft, painting, gardening, architecture have developed themselves and formed the traditional Japanese culture we can enjoy today. In my talk, I will introduce various arts created based on Zen by showing cultural assets of Kennin-ji Temple.

Shundou Asano

Zen Monk and General Manager, Kennin-ji Temple, Kyoto
  Short bio  

Shundo Asano (Deputy Chief Priest, Hohkan-ji Temple of Kennin-ji school, Rinzai sect). Born in 1979 as a second son of Zen-yu Asano, who is Chief Priest of Hohkan-ji Temple, Kennin-ji school, Rinzai sect. In 1997 he entered the Buddhist priesthood and received training under the guidance of Sohgen Kobori at a dedicated temple of Kennin-ji school, Rinzai sect. In 2020 he became Deputy Chief Priest of Hohkan-ji Temple by obtaining Seigoku as his pseudonym. In 2009 he became a member of justice department and in 2017 became a member of general affairs department at Kennin-ji school, Rinzai sect.