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Introducing an exhibition of “The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu”, Part I
The Edo-Tokyo Museum

From March 15 (Tue.), the Edo-Tokyo Museum will host a special exhibition entitled, “The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu (1816-63), An Exhibition of the Zojoji Icons in Commemoration of the 800th Memorial of St. Honen,” the first exhibition to ever display under one roof every work the artist Kazunobu Kano created for Zojoji Temple (the chief temple of the Jodo sect of Buddhism) approximately 150 years ago. What kind of paintings are contained in the The Five Hundred Arhats?
 What is The Five Hundred Arhats?

In Buddhism, those who obtain certain high stages of enlightenment are known as arhats. The pieces of The Five Hundred Arhats being exhibited at the Edo-Tokyo Museum this time illustrate the many miracles performed by the 500 arhats. There are a total of 100 pieces, each measuring approximately 172cm x 85cm. Above are two pieces from The Five Hundred Arhats. One can see the skill of the artist in his depiction of hell.

 The artist’s challenge 1

Before Kazunobu Kano began this work, he travelled to temples around Japan to confirm that a 100 piece set of The Five Hundred Arhats did not exist. In other words, the artist bet everything on making these paintings.

 The artist’s challenge 2

The Five Hundred Arhats was created just when Western culture was beginning to come into Japan. Kazunobu mimicked the Western paintings he came in contact with, adopting into his work many techniques of shadowing and perspective unknown in Japan at the time.

 Pay attention to the details

Although we cannot show all 100 pieces in The Five Hundred Arhats here, the collection contains numerous incredible scenes. Get up close to each piece at the exhibition and pay careful attention to the details of the paintings. This is a rare opportunity to see all 100 pieces of the collection together, a chance which is absolutely not to be missed!

* Plates / Kazunobu Kano, The Five Hundred Arhats, 1854-1863, 172.3cm x 85.8cm, Zojoji Temple

“The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu (1816-63), An Exhibition of the Zojoji Icons in Commemoration of the 800th Memorial of St. Honen”

http://500rakan.exhn.jp/

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