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

“The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu (1816-63), an Exhibition of the Zojoji Icons in Commemoration of the 800th Memorial of St. Honen,” is currently on display at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Here we introduce The Five Hundred Arhats and their painter, Kano Kazunobu.
 The Story behind The Five Hundred Arhats

Kano Kazunobu was born approximately 200 years ago in Edo, which is now called Tokyo. It was the end of the Shogunate, a time of great disasters and political strife, which encouraged fervent belief in the Arhats. This was the background for Kazunobu’s decision to paint The Five Hundred Arhats.

 Devoting his Life to Painting

Kazunobu was 38 when he decided to paint The Five Hundred Arhats using 100 panels, a previously unheard of feat. He spent the next 10 years painting the work, passing away after completing his 96th painting. In order to complete 96 paintings in 10 years he would have had to complete one painting per month, and with each hanging scroll being more than 170cm long, this is an incredible speed. Kazunobu truly devoted his life to The Five Hundred Arhats.

 The First Time for All the Paintings to be put on Display in 150 Years

After Kazunobu died, The Five Hundred Arhats were put on display in a hall established by his wife Myoan. This hall continued to be a well-known attraction in Tokyo until the end of the Meiji Period, consistently attracting many visitors. After Myoan died there were less opportunities to see The Five Hundred Arhats, and the hall itself was destroyed in World War II. The Five Hundred Arhats have been preserved at Zojoji Temple, but are not often shown to the public. Until now, only one or two pieces have been exhibited at the same time. This is the first time that all 100 have been displayed at once. Don’t miss this chance to see these works that Kazunobu devoted his life to!

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


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