Mythological Stories of Japan


This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

This gallery represents the various gods, goddesses, and demons of Japan mythology. These gods are apart of Shinto, Buddhism, and Taoism religions in Japan and have a great significance in history in the country. 

Susanoo no Mikoto and Inadahime awaiting the 8-headed serpent, from the series Mirror of Famous Generals of Japan, Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Publisher: Funazu Chujiro, 1885, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
This painting depicts the Japanese Storm God, Susanoo, and his soon to be wife Kushinadahime. They are both waiting for the eight-headed serpent so that Susanoo can defeat it and save Kushinadahime. The water down below is seen to be moving roughly and emphasizes Susanoo's role over the waters with the storms. The main focal point is Susanoo pointing down below toward the ocean and where the serpent will be coming from.
Noh mask Masukami, Unknown, 18th century, From the collection of: Fukuoka City Museum
This mask was used for shrine maidens who would be possessed by greater goddesses during rituals. This mask in particular was focused on Amaterasu, which was the Japan goddess of the sun. The face of the woman on the mask depicts a wide range of emotions to try and capture the goddesses' reaction to the rituals. The lips are the most prominent part of the mask as they are only thing in color and are a very bright red, perhaps to depict the brightness of the sun bearing down on the country.
KANNON (AVALOKITESVARA) IN WHITE ROBES, Kichizan Mincho, Dated 1425, Muromachi period, From the collection of: MOA Museum of Art
This painting is about Kannon, the god of compassion and mercy in Japan. This painting represents him in white robes and clearly the focal point of the piece. The rough waters below him symbolize the pain and suffering of the individuals who haven't found the light. So Kannon in white robes is very easy to spot amidst the chaos. The circle behind him, perhaps depicting the sun, has him placed in the middle with a lone tree above. This half of the image is opposite of the bottom half and is peaceful, showing people that he can help them find peace among their problems.
Nō mask known as hannya, 1700/1899, From the collection of: British Museum
This is the mask of a Japanese demon known as Hanya. It is usually used in plays to represent a woman who filled with jealousy. The white face represents the face of a once fair maiden and captures the anger and sadness of the woman. The demon face and horns are very prominent and perhaps depict what these kinds of emotions can do to someone who lets themselves be consumed with such negative emotions.
Fukūkensaku Kannon with two Guardian Deities, a hanging scroll painting, 1150/1299, From the collection of: British Museum
This piece represents three Japan Gods. The figure at the top is the most prominent which is Kannon, the god of compassion and mercy. He has two guards to the bottom and guard him when he is on duty. Bishamon, the god of war, and Vajrapani, the god of strength. These two protectors are perhaps the best guards for the god and stay below Kannon to protect him from any threats. The two guards are less noticeable than Kannon but are not completely invisible from the overall message; perhaps to warn people that all is not what it seems in their situations with not finding their light.
Amida Buddha, Artist/maker unknown, Japanese, Late 13th century, From the collection of: Philadelphia Museum of Art
This statue represents the Japanese god of light in the Buddhism religion. The yellow circle of jewels behind his heads depicts the light of the sun and heavens shining down below. The golden robes he wears also further represents the light he holds to the people. He stands atop a great pedestal that seems to look like a type of plant, most likely depicting how all life, including the animals and plants, need light to nurture properly.
Teapot or Ewer in the Form of Ebisu and Tai Fish, Unknown, 19th century, From the collection of: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Ebisu is a good luck god of Japan for fishing and commerce at the ports. This piece is shown as a teapot with Tai Fish. The fish likely show the possibilities of what Ebisu can bring to fisherman out to sea if they are graced with his good luck. The teapot itself can most likely represent a fisherman's boat which depicts the god's nature to the people. Ebisu's laughing face gives the person going at joy and happiness which reflect off to the fisherman in the port.
Fukagawa's Benten shrine in snow, from the series One Hundred Views of Musashi, Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika, Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujiro, 1884.11.10, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
This piece is a painting of a shrine of the Japan goddess, Benten. This goddess is the goddess of good fortune and is among the good luck goddesses. The focal point of the piece is the calm lake in the middle and colored with a peaceful blue tone. The snow is calm laid on the background and is not currently being showered down. The entire scene is at peace and everything in the picture is reflecting this emotion.
Figure on Baku, Unknown, 18th century, From the collection of: Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Baku is a Japanese demon that eats nightmares. This figure shows several things that could show up in a person's dreams and often represent their hidden fears. The piece is very grotesque and doesn't seem to have many obvious features with in it. It is a more of a combination of different nightmares all together. Perhaps since Baku is based on individual's dreams, his appearance would change depending on the person.
Princess Konohanasakuya, Domoto Insho, 1929, From the collection of: Kyoto Prefectural Domoto-Insho Museum of Fine Arts
Konohana is the goddess of flowers, specifically the goddess of the Konohana flowers. She is believed to be very beautiful and this piece depicts her in white robes. The white color tone depicts innocence and peace, which is reflected off the flowers and trees surrounding her. This piece as a whole is very colorful, especially the tree trunk in the background. This most likely shows the variety of the different type of flowers out there, giving the impression of unlimited possibilities of beauty from her.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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