By Shuichi Kato
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Extra resources for A History of Japanese Literature: Volume 2 The Years of Isolation
Quite how he did this remains obscure as none of his theoretical works survive, but, as he says in a letter: 'Speaking of Sannö Shintö, such a wonderful thing has never been heard of in Japan or anywhere else. ' After Ieyasu's death the discussions within the Bakufu as to what posthumous name to accord him were said to have been much influenced by Tenkai. The choice lay between the Shintö Myöjin ('Gracious deity') and the Buddhist Gongen ('Enlightened One') and it was Tenkai's view that as Toyotomi Hideyoshi had already become Myöjin, Ieyasu should become Gongen.
It was the literary arts of the Heian court that provided the theme for many of his paintings. Sötatsu's genius was a summary of previous culture and at the same time a prefiguring of the art yet to come. At the same time genre artists (almost all anonymous) were portraying a wide range of subjects - the ships of the 'southem barbarians', a flower-viewing party at Daigo, shop fronts of merchant houses, serving women, the rieh and poor of Kyöto and the provinces. They combined a keen sense of observation and a fine sensibility of the beauty of colour and line.
Firstly, he extended the idea that the Buddha-heart is common to all into a kind of sexual egalitarianism: 'What difference is there between men and women? ' However, the view that men and women are equal in having an identical Buddha-heart made no claim for the equality of all against the social system of hereditarily fixed hierarchy. Secondly, his use of the colloquial meant that he was a more effective popularizer than Shösan, and this was quite deliberate: 'I peacefully ask and answer questions about the Way in a manner which suits the Japanese.
A History of Japanese Literature: Volume 2 The Years of Isolation by Shuichi Kato