Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts


Shimizu Seifu


Shimizu Seifu (Seifuu) 清水清風
1851 - 1913


Shimizu Seifu was a "professor of toys", he painted a lot of the traditional Japanese toys and woodblocks were made of them.
In 1906 he curated the first known exhibition of Japanese folk toys.

In 1887 Shimizu Seifu
founded the "Hobbyhorse Club " dedicated to "the merry and nostalgic enjoyment of children's toys". Seifu, who was an artist, a wealthy trader and a student of Japanese folklore, assembled a large collection of children's toys and published a series of books cataloging his collection.
The series, Unai no tomo (The Child's Friends), numbered ten volumes, six by Seifu and four by the painter
Nishizawa Tekiho 西澤笛畝(1889 - 1965).

source :


Unai no tomo うないのとも
(A Child's Friends; Japanese folk toys) image

A rare and fascinating work of ethnographic and artistic importance on Japanese folk toys, the first comprehensive illustrated work on the subject, and a source of inspiration for the Mingei movement.
Offered are 3 consecutive volumes, the first printing of volumes 2-4, published in 1911, complete with 139 superb color woodblock prints, 8 full-sheet (double-page) and 131 full-page, the color woodblock printing finely executed, some prints with silver or gold, all in sharp impressions with fresh bright colors. The 10 volumes set was published between 1891 and 1923.

A labor of love, Unai no tomo remains the definitive, illustrated work on Japanese folk toys and is the most important illustrated work on the subject since Edo nishiki (1773). It has since served as a source of inspiration for artists, including Munakata Shiko and a benchmark and reference for ethnographers, anthropologists, historians, and collectors. Pate calls it, "the classic work" and Kyburz, "the bible for all serious toy amateurs".

Head of a wealthy Tokyo trading company, artist, calligrapher, and the leading Meiji period collector of omocha (toys), including the varieties of ningyo (dolls).
He studied poetry (haikai) with Kozando Sangetsu and
painting with Hiroshige III, holding in trust important Ando Hiroshige artifacts, including his seals. In 1880 he founded the
Takeuma-kai (Hobbyhorse Club) for advancing the enjoyment and study of the many forms of traditional Japanese folk toys and in 1906 curated the first known exhibition of Japanese folk toys in Japan, the Kodomo Hakurankai (Children's Exhibition): many of the items were from his collection.

In 1909 he founded the influential Odomokai 十八番クラブ (Adult's or Connoisseur's Club) that greatly advanced the appreciation of these symbols of Japanese culture, handmade from common materials and usually sold on ennichi or link-days, many originally derived from amulets and talismans rooted in Shinto and traditional Japanese folklore.
source :


Toys From Japan: Meiji Wood Block Prints

. . . CLICK here for Photos from DONGAN COLLECTION !

. Hanga, Woodblockprints 版画 with Daruma  



Darumappa Ten Exhibition


Darumappa Ten Exhibition

at 下北沢 Gallery AB-OVO

Young artists have come together to exhibit their various versions of Daruma san, from papermachee to many other materials.

source :


Daruma Exhibitions



Yamashina Paintings


Yamashian Paintings 山科絵 Yamashina-e

Pictures from Yamashina and Otsu
山科絵 Yamashina-E and 大津絵 Otsu-E

I first met Yamamoto san in October 2003 on a visit to the famous temple Daigo-Ji in Kyoto. He was sitting in a small stall, sourrounded by the most colorful and humorous pictures. Taking a good look, there was of course Daruma san among the featured subjects. On this picture below you can see his BENTEN, one of the seven deities of Good Luck, another frerquent topic of his pictures.

Yoshio Yamamoto, 63, makes it his life-work to revive Yamashina Paintings.

What exactly are Yamashina Paintings?
During the Edo period, there were many travellers on the old Tokaido road, from Kyoto to Edo and back to Kyoto. Each of the 53 postal towns on the way had its own speciality, mostly some local food. Yamashina, but even more so the nearby town of Otsu, were famous for some kind of funny paintings of religious origin (Otsu-E). Yamashina is now a modern suburb of Kyoto.


Otsu Paintings 大津絵 Otsu-E

They have survived until today and we find these motives on postcards or ceramics of all kinds.
Japanese folk painting known as otsu-e, so named for the town of Otsu just to the east of Kyoto, along the Tokaido road, the principal route linking Edo and Kyoto. Shops hawking cheap souvenirs included open-air painting studios where block-printed folk subjects embellished with vivid ink washes were offered in unmounted hanging scroll format, or as simple sheets of paper, each with a single subject.

In celebration of the Japanese New Year, the Mingeikan (Japan Folk Crafts Museum) has organized a special exhibition entitled Otsu-e: Edo Period Popular Paintings, showcasing this traditional Japanese genre of painting from the Edo Period (1615-1868).

The name otsu-e is derived from the place where these paintings were sold, in and around the post town of Otsu, which lay on the Tokaido Road running between Edo (present day Tokyo) and Kyoto. Stands were set along the road to sell these paintings as souvenirs to passing travelers. Created by anonymous artists, the paintings were sold in great numbers for little money.

Some of the first otsu-e were created during the Kanei Era (1624-44) following the early Edo persecution of Japanese Christians. The artwork provided an inexpensive source of Buddhist art that could be displayed in the homes of commoners who feared retribution from the authorities, and needed proof of their devotion to Japanese religious beliefs.

By the end of the Genroku Era (1688-1704), otsu-e had become so popular that their themes were expanded to include depictions of secular subjects, such as beautiful women, courtesans, heroes, animals and mythical goblins.

Among the auspicious otsu-e motifs on display at the exhibition are depictions of the Shichifukujin, or Seven Deities of Good Luck. Displaying images of these deities was believed to be talismanic, bringing longevity, wealth and business success to their owners. The practice of displaying Shichifukujin originated in the 15th century. The deities were drawn from an eclectic mix of Buddhist, Shinto and Taoist figures.

The deities are often portrayed riding in a boat together, but some otsu-e portray one or two deities, which are popular to display during the New Year.

One such painting, "Daikoku Shaving Fukurokuju," demonstrates the happy and humorous natures of these two members of the group of Seven Deities. Daikoku is the deity of prosperity, while Fukurokuju is the deity of longevity. Daikoku is almost naked, clothed only in a loincloth and wearing a red hood. Holding a razor in his right hand, he must climb a ladder in order to shave Fukurokuju's head, since it is so elongated. The painting illustrates the human qualities of deities, who seem less than godlike in such poses, showing that the immortals have as many foibles as us ordinary folk.

This painting also demonstrates the exceedingly simple artistic techniques used to depict the subjects of otsu-e. Usually drawn on plain brown paper, the paintings utilize a limited number of mineral pigments, typically including the colors blue, red, green, yellow and white. The first stage in creating the paintings was to make an outline in black, which was then filled in with colors in simple brushwork.

Each member of an artist's family pitched in to help, including parents and children. This process assured the quick completion of each work and enabled mass production of art. Many local craftsmen were involved in the production process, resulting in a pool of local themes in otsu-e art. So cheap that almost anyone could afford them, the art was often attached to doorways or glued on pillars and sliding doors in commoners' homes.

source :

There is also a special museum for Otsu paintings in the Town of Otsu.


. Shōmen Kongō 青面金剛 Shomen Kongo, .

. My Otsu Paintings 大津絵 .
with Daruma san and with O-Fudo san
and more

The ten most important subjects of Otsu-E

1. 鬼の寒念仏; 2. 鷹匠; 3. 寿老人; 4. 藤娘; 5. 矢の根五郎;
6. 瓢箪鯰; 7. 雷公の太鼓釣り; 8. 釣鐘弁慶; 9. 槍持奴; 10. 座頭; 11. 文読む女; 12. 猫と鼠

and a song about Otsu-E 大津絵節

げほうの 梯子剃り
雷太鼓で 釣瓶とる
お若衆は 鷹を持つ
びっくり仰天し 腹立ち杖をばふり上げる
荒気の鬼もほっきして 鉦しもく
瓢箪なまずを しっかとおさえます

- source : -

Moriyama town 守山市

Ootsu-e juuninshuu dorei 大津絵十人衆人形土鈴
clay bells of 10 important themes from Otsu pictures

Made according to paintings by 高橋松山 Takahashi Shozan.

The 10 themes are
鬼の念仏 Oni no nenbutsu / 藤娘 Fuji Musume / 雷公 Raiko / 瓢箪鯰 Gourd and Catfish / 座頭 Zato / 槍持奴 Yakko with a spear / 鷹匠 falconer / 弁慶 Benkei / 矢の根五郎 Yanone Goro / 長寿翁 Choju Ogina

- 高橋松山 Takahashi Shozan - English Reference
born in 1932.

- Page with detailed photos of paintings and clay bells:
- reference : -

. Shiga Prefecture Folk Art - 滋賀県 .


Concluding my remarks about Otsu-e:
They remind me a lot of HAIGA, I must say.

Maybe there is a link between them both after all?
Being painted by sort-of laypeople for common folk, not ment to be high art, but entertaining or used as presents from heart to heart.

Yamashina Paintings / My ALBUM

The BIG BROTHER of Otsu paintings is still very much alive, but Yamashina paintings have been almost lost in our modern times.
Mr. Yamamoto, who lives in Yamashina, is trying to revive them in his own humorous style. He has done so after a lot of personal research and is now selling his paintings in various temples, since about 1998.

Many topics of these paintings concerned the gods of good luck and other deities of Shintoism and Buddhism, the same as we met above in the Otsu Paintings. They are painted with black ink and some watercolors, the faces of the gods are usually taken from the living men and women of his neighbourhood.

During the Edo period, these cheap paintings of the deities were all a poor traveler could afford during his trip, so Yamamoto san keeps his prices down too. After buying some of his postcards, he gave me a few more and later even sent me a long letter in beautiful calligraphy with a Daruma and some water goblins (kappa, picture 07 in my album). He wrote if Yamashina paintings would be made known outside Japan, that would be a great honour to him.

Daruma san meets Sokrates, what a surprising combination of "East meets West". Yamamoto san was a schoolteacher before becoming a painter and a philosopher too.

Two water goblins (kappa) hoisting a kite of Daruma in the air. Kappa is another speciality of his Yamashina paintings, but to explain about kappa here would get us too far off the subject. Just think of him as some kind of human-frog.

03 Daruma toppled
This shows a Kappa looking at a Daruma doll which has tumbled over. The surprized face of the little Kappa is quite fascinating.

04 naughty Kappa
Four naughty Kappa boys trying to tumble a Daruma, who in turn tries to hold steadfast, keeping his balance. The individual versus society, as Yamamoto smiles wisely.
4 匹の河童はだるまを倒そうとし、だるまはビックともしない。

Two postcards, each using a Chinese character associated whith a virtue of Daruma in a funny distortion. NINtai 忍耐, or steadfastness and koDOKU 孤独, to be alone.
漢字にだるまを書きました。忍耐、孤独 のだるま

Yamamoto san also gave me a larger square picture with the seven gods of good luck in the treasure-boat, together with a Daruma in their midst. Since these seven are used in pictures for the New Year just as Daruma, he figured they might as well all sit in the same boat!

All my treasures of Yamashina paintings mounted on the wall of the Daruma Museum. On the top line his letter with a sample of his individualistic calligraphy. Here Daruma is sourrounded by dancing water goblins.

. Kappapedia - My Kappa Blog .   


An abstract from a newpaper article about Yamamoto san in 2003.

山科絵は、江戸時代の前-中期に生まれたとされ、半紙に神仏などの絵を描いて東海道を行き交う旅人に売られていた。東海道沿いでは、山科絵のほかに地元の名を付けた「大津絵」や「追分絵」「大谷絵」があったが、交通 の手段が徒歩から鉄路などに変わり、今では大津絵だけが残っている。

山本さんの山科絵は、墨と顔料で描く大津絵を参考に、金閣寺や醍醐寺などの京都の社寺、小野小町など山科ゆかりの人物などを、現代の絵具も使って色彩 豊かに描いている。
Kyoto Shimbun 2003.04.15 News

Choken-Ji and the Benten Picture:

The second from the bottom shows the small stall of Yamamoto san.


. The 53 stations of the Tokaido Road 東海道 .


. Kappapedia - My Kappa Blog .   

. PINTEREST - Kappa Gallery .




Asti, Sergio Asti

[ . BACK to TOP . ]


Sergio Asti and his Designer Daruma

designed by Sergio Asti in 1967.

Sergio Asti was born in 1926. He studied at the School of Industrial Desing in Milano, Italy. In 1983 he had an exhibition of his work in Kyoto.

GOOGLE with Sergio Asti


GOOGLE with sergio asti ダルマ

This is one of my favorite parts in the Daruma Museum!
Imagine putting your christmas cookies there !
In Japan, it is also offered as a kind of lamp.

Please send your contributions to Gabi Greve
Daruma Discussion Forum

Alphabetical Index of the Daruma Museum



Fukutoku Senbei


Fukutoku Senbei 福徳せんべい
Lucky Waffles from the Kaga Domain

When the Lord Maeda of the Kaga domain rebuild the tower Ni no Maru of his castel in 1809, he had special waffles made for the final celebration. Inside these waffles were small clay toys like the beckoning cat, other sweets or little statues of auspicious deities, like Tenjin Sama. The sugary sweets are called "Gold Flower Sugar" (kinkatoo 金花糖).

One of these wafers, in the form of an auspicious hammer (kozuchi) contained a small clay doll of a female princess Daruma, which is a speciality of this domain.

I took the photos from a TV program on sweets, they are a bit wobbely.

The sweets were made by Rakugan Moroe-ya 落雁諸江屋 are made since 1849. Altogether they made 10 different types. Now these sweets are a special fare for the New Year Celebrations. Some people like to shake the closed waffles and guess what is inside, which makes for a nice game during a New Year Party.


The Store Moroeya features other Kanazawa sweets for the New Year 金沢の新春菓子, for example a type of

Fortune Cookies 辻占福寿草They contain slips of paper with riddles in the local language.

Wishing for a long life at the New Year, 金澤夢菓子「久寿玉」contains six different types of sweets. Some contain items to play with.

Copyright © The Yomiuri Shimbun.


Quote from Yomiuri Shinbun

福徳せんべい 中から天神様や金花糖



 Copyright © The Yomiuri Shimbun.


Another kind of normal senbei, with the taste of soy sauce.

Photo from my friend Kyoko.


乙女の金沢 otome no Kanazawa
Sweets for the Girls of Kanazawa


CLICK for more photos

Wagashi Sweets from Kanazawa 金沢に和菓子


. Toyama Folk Art - 富山県 .

fukutoku ningyoo 福徳人形 Fukutoku dolls
fukutoku senbei 福徳煎餅

source :

These small auspicious dolls have been used by the local sweet makers to decorate for the New Year and add them to the shopping bags of their customers.
Baked in waffles they are the noisy
garagara senbei がらがら煎餅.


Sweets with Daruma, Wagashi, Dagashi

Sweets from Japan (wagashi) and Haiku

Onna Daruma, Daruma as a Woman


ーーーーー #fukutoku - - - - -


Gustav Jacoby

nnnnnnnnnnnn TOP nnnnnnnnnnnnn

Gustav Jacoby, a German Art Collector

Philanthropy and Passion:
Gustav Jacoby and his Collection of Japanese Art
by Wolfgang Klose,
professor of theoretical physics, University of Saarbruecken and the University of Karlsruhe

Gustav Jacoby, 1910

Gustav Jacoby (1856 - 1921)
was one of the great German collectors of Japanese art in the early 20th century, deeply committed to enhancing public awareness and knowledge of Japanese art and crafts. His personal holdings of sword decorations and lacquerware in particular exceeded many museum collections of his time. Jacoby started collecting Japanese art seriously in 1899, and as early as 1903 was able to publish a series of sword guards from his collection in a catalogue.

The first public exhibition of Jacoby's private collection in Berlin 1904, "Small Works of Japanese Art", featured almost 1,200 objects. Jacoby was extremely generous, and made large material and financial contributions to the East Asian collections of several institutions: for instance, Jacoby helped transform the East Asian Art Collection in Berlin in 1919, donating virtually his entire collection.

Unfortunately, the pieces he donated, together with the vast majority of the collection's other pre-war holdings, were confiscated as war booty by the Soviet Army and removed to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, where they still remain today.

© ORIENTATIONS, Vol. 37, No.7 (October 2006), p.44-48

In the article by Wolfgang Klose is a mention of a Buddhist scroll in the Jacoby collection, which has been described in the "Ostasiatische Zeitschrift 1, 1912/13 pp. 226 - 35:
"Der Bōdhidharma der Sammlung G. Jacoby"
by William Cohn.

Please send your contributions to Gabi Greve
Daruma Discussion Forum

Alphabetical Index of the Daruma Museum



Zen Brush


Zen Mind Zen Brush

17 June – 13 August 2006

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
© Gitter-Yelen

Giant Daruma hanging scroll, ink on paper
65.5 x 31.5 cm
Gitter-Yelen Collection

Simple yet profound, spontaneous yet controlled, the art of Zen Buddhism is intended to communicate the vision of Zen masters and to reveal the essence of Zen. From June to August 2006, the Art Gallery of New South Wales will exhibit 80 works of Zen ink painting and calligraphy drawn from the remarkable private collection of
Dr Kurt A. Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen

The exhibition will provide an introduction to the art of Zenga, literally ‘zen painting’, a term that refers to the ink painting and calligraphy created by Zen monks in Japan from 1600 to the present day.

Zenga were used as a tool for meditation and spiritual teaching, and subjects range from fierce-looking Zen patriarchs to minimal landscapes, from intense calligraphy to whimsical illustrations of Zen conundrums. Characterised by their dynamic brushstrokes and often humorous images, these inspired works were mostly created by untrained painters who were monks first and artists second.

The exhibition will include zenga by the greatest Zen masters, such as the monks Fugai, Hakuin and Sengai, as well as works by Zen-inspired laymen and by monks from other Buddhist sects.


. Ito Jakuchu 伊藤若冲 .





introduced in the Daruma Forum
and some Daruma matsuri exhibitions だるま祭り

Zen Mind Zen Brush
featuring a Daruma painting by Ito JAKUCHU (1716-1800)

Nara National Museum Exhibition: Priest Chogen

From Sesshu to Pollock : Bridgestone museum

Saicho Exhibition in Tokyo

Hokusai and the Dragons


Enku, master carver

Mumon Kan, the Gate without Barriers

Japanese Prints and the World of Go / William Pinckard

Otsu-E pictures and the Folk Craft Museum Tokyo

Yoko Yamamoto, Prints

Eisei Bunko Museum: Chinese Stone Buddhas

Jim Breen's Ukiyo-E Gallery

Fantastic Mountains, an exhibition

. Daruma Museum

. Exhibitions of Dolls in - Hiratsuka ... Events  

ところ変わればだるまも変わる~ tokoro kawareba
Chofu Town, August 2013, Museum 調布市 郷土博物館

- reference -


- source :

January 16 - 21, 2014 Temple Jindai-Ji



懐祭り ~山響屋の九州郷土玩具展~
Exhibition at Yamabikoya in Fukuoka - July 2016
- source : -


新春招福だるま祭り - 2018

- reference : darumania -


- #darumaexhibition #darumamatsuri -


Eto (Zodiac Animals)


Zodiac Animals with Daruma, eto Daruma, 干支だるま


Daruma and the Year of the Dog

From an exhibition at Mihara, Feb. 2006


Making Daruma with Bull (ushi)



Plastic Zodiac Animal Colection



大師だるま Kawasaki Daishi Temple

江戸時代末から大師の門前で販売され、縁起物として親しまれています。カラフルだるまや干支だるま もあります。


Other LINKs

干支だるま, 荒井だるま、平塚 Eto Daruma Papermachee Dolls from Arai Hiratsuka

干支だるま(阿保こけしや) Eto Daruma from Abo Kokeshi Maker

干支だるま, 玉島だるま、Eto Daruma from Tamashima


More from the Daruma Museum

Furoshiki with Zodiac Animals and Daruma

..... Hoorin-ji Kyoto Temple with Zodiac Animal Daruma
法輪寺 : 京都のだるま寺

Dragon Art of Asia: Zodiac Animals by Gabi Greve


. Toys and Talismans from Japan . 
Zodiac Animals in Detail




Apsaras and Dunhuang


Apsara, Apsaras, Heavenly Maidens
tennnyo 天女, hiten 飛天 flying apsaras, divine nymphs

This is a hand-painted copy from the walls of the Stone Caves at Dunhuang, China.
I bought it more than 15 years ago at the local museum, where these reproductions are sold quite expensively as a contribution to the preservation effort of the caves.

The painters sit in the cold caves for hours and meticulously copy the wall paintings, including the fadings and spots and missing parts. They are young aspiring painters who also make a living out of this work.

For more about Dunhuang read the LINK of Mark Schumacher below.

This page contains many photos, please be patient while they are uploaded.


The Symbol of Dunhuang, a Heavenly Maiden

敦煌のシンボル : 「反弾き琵琶の天女像」

Look at many more photos from the area (Text in Japanese)


Some Apsaras, taken from this book:
敦煌石窟, 敦煌文物研究所/平凡社 1982

The photos will give you an impression about the changes of painting style, colors used during the ages and the kind of abstraction used. Some of them look like modern art to me.
One of the major problems of wall painting at these times was to find the appropriate mineral colors that would last for a while.

Northern Liang Dynasty (421 - 534)

Western Wei Dynasty (535 - 556)

Northern Zhou Dynasty (557 - 581)

Sui Dynasty (581 - 618)

Early Tang Dynasty (618 - 712)

Prosperous Tang Period (712 - 781)

........................ Musician Bodhisattvas

Later Tang Dynasty (848 - 907)

Northern Sung (Song) Dynasty (960 - 1036)

Photos taken from the following book:
Tonko Bunbutsu Kenkyujo Hen;
Kanshu Chugoku Sekkutsu Tonko Bakkookutsu Henshu Iinkai.
Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1980-1982
( Chinese Cave Temple Series: The Mogao Caves at Dunhuang)

oo oo oo oo oo

Further reading in the Daruma Library

Apsaras and Musical Instruments, by Chen Lin

Dunhuang, Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, Ryan Bradeen

DUNHUANG STUDIES - by Prof. Ning Qiang
with more photos


The musical instruments shown with these apsaras are now revived in China and used in orchestras.
Here is a group with its instruments.
敦煌古楽器アンサンブル Tonko Ko Gakki Ensamble

More LINKS with photos from the caves


Tonko 敦煌 Dunhuang

More photos from my trip to Dunhuang

Photos from my Trip to Seian and the Gobi Desert


Mystical Bird (Karyōbinga), 葛飾北斎 Katsushika Hokusai

Karyōbinga 迦陵頻伽 (Karyobinga) Skt. = Kalavinka
Celestial beings who play music, dance, and fly through the air. They appear in many forms, often with bird’s body and angelic head, and are sometimes associated with Amida Nyorai. They appear often in Buddhist paintings, ritual robes, murals, and temple decorations.

Celestial Maidens : Look at many more photos and
read Mark Schumacher.

Mark will tell you all the necessary information about this subject.


I dedicate this page to Prof. Dietrich Seckel
my professor of East-Asian Art at Heidelberg University.
He told us about Dunhuang and the apsaras with so much enthusiasm, that it has since then been my wish to see them for myself.
Professor für Ostasiatische Kunstsgeschichte, Universität Heidelberg

Professor Seckel about the Apsaras

Heilige Gestalten stehen in der buddhistischen Theologie und Kunst selten alleine, vielmehr sind sie mit anderen, die mit ihnen einen gedanklichen und kultischen Zusammenhang haben, zu ikonographisch ziemlich feststehenden Gruppen verbunden.

Zu jedem Buddha gehört ein oder meist zwei Bodhisattvas, in der esoterischen Schule auch ein Vidyaaraaja; ferner gehört zu ihm eine Gruppe beschützender und eine Gruppe anbetender Wesen (anbetende oder Weihgaben darbringende Bodhisattvas (kuyoo bosatsu) ) oder Apsaras, d.h. engelartige Himmelswesen, Adoranten, Jünger.

... aber auch wenn göttliche oder halbgöttliche Wesen im Akt der Verehrung erscheinen, wie vor allem die Apsaras, werden sie in oft lebhafter, anmutig schwebender, fliegender, tänzerischer Bewegung gezeigt; und zwar treten solche Bewegungen geschichtlich sehr früh auf - nämlich schon in der Wei- und Suiko-Zeit.

... engelartige (doch mit den alttestamentlichen oder christlichen Engeln gar nicht vergleichbare) Bodhisattvas, die zur Verehrung (puja, puuja) eines Buddha herbeischweben und ihm Blumen, Weihrauch, Musik und Tanz als Weihgaben darbringen.
Sie und die ihnen ähnlichen Apsaras werden oft recht unpräzise als "fliegende Himmelswesen", "heavenly beings" und dergleichen bezeichnet.

Quoted from
Buddhistische Kunst Ostasiens
Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1957

Buddha Statues, Who is Who, by Gabi Greve
Reviewed by Prof. Seckel


Hindu Mythology

The Apsaras are female spirits of nature. Thye are usually water nymphs or forest spirits. They are considered very talented artistically, and all of them are described as being very beautiful. Apsaras love to dance and they often performed for gods.
While serving as inspiration for lovers, they were often sent by Ravana to tempt rishis or Brahmans who were retreating into the forest.

Read more about Music of India and Haiku

snowflakes -
the heavenly crowds


A Comment from Chris Cochrane
February 2006

Though the term "apsara" is not used, the heaven-flying maiden is the figure seen in Japanese paintings of the maiden Hagoromo-- (the maiden of the Feather Mantle). She flys over Mt. Fuji dropping feathers; these paintings are displayed at New Year's season.

The story of the bird maiden goes back to an 8th century collection of provincial topographies _Fudoki_ (source: A group of birds changes into maidens to bathe in a lake. A man steals the feather robe (hagoromo) of the youngest, forcing her to marry him. After many years, she retrieves her gown and returns to the skies, leaving her husband and their children behind.

The later noh drama _Hagoromo_ tells of a fisherman who discovers the feather mantle of a heavenly maiden. The maiden asks him to return the garment to her. When he does, she rises into the sky dancing evocatively.

Feathers allude to good fortune (the return of a feathered "bat (homonym for luck)/birdie" in a paddle game) and perhaps to depiction of spirits descending through a natural object object (_yorishiro_ in Shinto belief), not unlike spirits descending to color the leaves from top to bottom in autumn as heaven's spirit descends to the dusty world in the Noh drama _Tatsuta_.

The dance of the maiden of the Feather Mantle is also replicated by the character of the Chinese historical beauty Yang Keui-fei (name changed) in the Noh drama _Yokihi_.

The International Shakuhachi website references this maiden. It includes the text of a poem set to koto music and notes: "One of the most profound of the kumi-uta that are classified into the deep interior (oku) category of the koto music repertoire (1), this song cycle 'Hagoromo no kyoku' ('Celestial Robes') is played frequently as part of the first musical event of the New Year Hikizome, a traditional ceremony that accompanies the First Reading, the First Writing and other ceremonies that begin the New Year in Japan."

2 photos are © by Chris Cochrane


source :

Mogao caves–
the hare with amber eyes
curls itself a timepiece

Triple hare symbols have been found at the caves.

Alan Summers


. Kikaku, Takarai Kikaku 宝井其角 Enomoto Kikaku (1661-1707) .

Enoshima Island 榎島

hanakaze ya tennyo owarete kachi-watari

blossoms in the wind --
a heavenly woman rides high
across the shallows

Tr. and comment : Chris Drake

Many different characters were used to write Enoshima. I think "heavenly woman" (tennyo) must refer to Benzaiten, an Indian female god associated with Buddhism who governs artistic ability, eloquence, knowledge, water, the ocean, and wealth. There is a famous shrine to her on Enoshima Island, not far from Edo. Benzaiten or, more commonly, Benten was worshiped by many Edo people, who often made pilgrimages to Enoshima Island, especially in spring. One of the two statues of Benten on the island is very famous and shows her playing a lute (biwa) naked. Benten is often referred to as a heavenly woman, and she is also represented by three Shinto gods, all sisters, so there were/are actually four heavenly women on the island -- and no male gods.

The meaning of the hokku is a little difficult, so this is just a first guess. The first line refers to the wind blowing cherry blossoms on the island and onto the sea around it. The last line seems to refer to walking to or from Enoshima Island across a narrow ridge in the shore that at low tide connects the shore with the island but at high tide is covered. The verb kachi-wataru (written both 徒渡る and 歩渡る) means to ford or wade through shallow water up to about two feet high, usually in order to cross a stream or shallow river.

As for the heavenly woman, I wonder if Kikaku isn't using the term metaphorically while at the same time referring to Benten. Perhaps the tide has started to rise, covering the natural walkway between the island and the shore, and one woman pilgrim in beautiful spring robes has hired a porter to carry her back to the mainland through the shallow water now covering the same ridge of sandy land she walked on earlier to get to the island. Or perhaps the women is traveling with a man, and now he carries her on his shoulders across the shallow water between the island and mainland at high tide.

To Kikaku the woman must look very beautiful, since he her calls her a heavenly woman. Or perhaps, a bit like the naked Benten statue, the woman has pulled up her robes so they won't get ruined by the salt water and parts of her thighs are now showing. At the same time, the blossoms scattering in the wind make the woman on the man's shoulders look a bit as if she were flying through the air like a heavenly being. I translate "carried" as "rides high," since I think Kikaku is suggesting a semi-flying image of the semi-heavenly woman. (Or there might be several women being carried/riding across, since number isn't marked here.)

Chris Drake


source : Hitoshi on facebook

at 高野山 Mount Koya