The Religious Art of Japan
Works from the Freer's collection of Japanese religious art are on view in several thematically organized exhibitions. Buddhist iconography was first introduced to Japan from the Asian mainland in the sixth century. The complex belief systems and sacred cosmologies of diverse Buddhist sects have since continued to find expression in Japanese art. Buddhism brought to Japan a rich repertory of imagery, music, and liturgy that coexisted and interacted with the native Shinto belief system, in which the gods were closely associated with specific localities and natural features such as mountains, trees, and water. Buddhist sculptures on view include delightfully animated representations of the Guardians of the Four Directions and a serenely poised image of a bodhisattva. Also displayed are a group of masks used in temple dance rituals and a selection of paintings created by monk artists for Zen Buddhist temples.