Author(s): Takaoka, Kazuya
This art book showcases a wide collection of depictions of hell in Japanese art from the 12th century to the 19th century. The single-volume collection focuses primarily on works designated as Japanese National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties and features the various depictions of hell by prominent artists such as Kazunobu Kano, Nhichosai, Yoshitoshi Tsukioka and Kyosai Kawanabe. This volume also features the 19th century woodblock-printed edition of "Ojoyoshu" The Essentials of Rebirth in the Pure Land) written by the medieval Buddhist monk Genshin (942-1017) and is accompanied by modern bilingual text. Written in 985, this influential Buddhist text is often compared with Dante's "La Divina Commedia" (La Divine Comedie/The Divine Comedy). Its brutal scenes of underworld realms display the suffering and cruelty one might endure as a consequence of harmful acts committed in life or the judgement by the Ten Kings of Hell. These ideas of hell in "Ojoyoshu" have played an enduring role in inspiring Japanese Buddhist paintings and other subsequent texts, particularly from the medieval period onward, and are vividly portrayed in the painting featured in this volume. Essays from historians of both Japanese art and Buddhism are also included in bilingual text.