Matthew Larking

For Matthew Larking's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Hakuin's picture of Zen Buddhism

May 3, 2016

Hakuin's picture of Zen Buddhism

Zen, traced to the ancient teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni, took root in China via India around 1,500 years ago through the first Zen patriarch, Bodhidharma. Spread there by the priest Linji Yixuan (Rinzai Gigen, died 867), it was transmitted to Japan in the ...

Putting some faith into the art of decoration

Apr 12, 2016

Putting some faith into the art of decoration

The titular kazari (decoration or ornament) as the focus of “Kazari: Decoration in Faith and Festival,” the Miho Museum’s spring exhibition, is intended to restore something of the centrality of its concept of decorative embellishment to Japanese art. While the exhibits are consummate, however, ...

The dyeing art of Japan's traditional everyday kimono

Mar 1, 2016

The dyeing art of Japan's traditional everyday kimono

Weaver and dyer Fukumi Shimura’s (b.1924) inherited an interest in craft from her mother, Toyo Ono, who made inroads through the early 20th-century mingei (folk crafts) movement led by philosopher Muneyoshi Yanagi. Introduced to the lacquer artistan Tatsuaki Kuroda in 1956, Shimura began to ...

The ornate history of embroidery

Jun 9, 2015

The ornate history of embroidery

“Transcendent Artful Embroidery II” at the Kobe Fashion Museum is a cross-cultural look at the perfections of needle craft across several centuries. It gets underway with a section on garments of Indian nobles and Chinese court dresses of the 19-20th centuries and then segues ...

Seeing beyond Jiro Takamatsu's shadows

May 19, 2015

Seeing beyond Jiro Takamatsu's shadows

“Jiro Takamatsu: Trajectory of Work” is taxonomic, breaking down everything in the artist’s oeuvre into relatively neat successions of projects and including his paintings and sculptures, copious sketches and the marginalia. Even the catalog seemingly calls for a scientific approach, this exhibition being the ...

Diversity saved the Kano school

Apr 21, 2015

Diversity saved the Kano school

Kyoto National Museum’s “Kano Painters of the Momoyama Period: Eitoku’s Legacy” is the follow up exhibition to the 2007 “Kano Eitoku, Momoyama Painter Extraordinaire” and focuses on Eitoku’s successors who produced work during the period 1596-1615. The current year marks the 400th anniversary of ...

Nihonga didn't ignore the West

Feb 26, 2015

Nihonga didn't ignore the West

From the early 1880s, painting in Japan became bisected. Yōga was used to categorize works in oils that were inspired by European painting movements and nihonga became the umbrella term for a whole array of earlier Japanese painting traditions that were later modernized. The ...

Art is long, when life can be short

Jan 29, 2015

Art is long, when life can be short

Given Japan’s continual seismic activity, what happened at 5:46 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1995, was unavoidable. The devastation and loss of life that occurred with the magnitude 7.3 quake in Kansai became a yardstick only now surpassed by the Great East Japan Earthquake of ...

Where Buddhism and Shintoism meet

Jan 22, 2015

Where Buddhism and Shintoism meet

Works from the Tendai Buddhist Gakuenji temple in Shimane Prefecture form the feature exhibition of Kyoto National Museum’s New Year’s show. Tradition tells that the priest Chishun established Gakuenji around the time of the Empress Suiko (554-628) though centuries passed before it was first ...

A revue of Japan's femininity

Sep 4, 2014

A revue of Japan's femininity

Ichizo Kobayashi (1873-1957) was the founder of the West Japan Hankyu train line and department store in Osaka’s central Umeda district. Arguably his most significant artistic contribution was the establishment of the Takarazuka Music School in 1913, which combined a modern education with the ...