Publication Details

Kilpatrick, H, The Art of Emptiness: Buddhist Nature in picture books of Miyazawa Kenji's Donguri to Yamaneko (Wildcat and the Acorns), The Looking Glass: new perspectives in children's literature, 10(2), 2006, p 1-17.


Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), the author of Donguri to Yamaneko [3], is recognised as one of "the most imaginative spinner[s] of children's stories, of twentieth-century Japan" (Satô xvii). Moreover, Kenji, as he is commonly known, is probably Japan's most renowned Buddhist writer and his work is now taught in schools and universities. [4]He was writing at a time when Japan was undergoing rapid modernisation and much of his work, including Donguri, was created as a protest against the spiritual desolation associated with rampant industrialisation, commodification and consumerism. Donguri should be considered in this context as the story ultimately foregrounds a communion with Nature, although his tales can also be considered as pleas for ecological balance. [5] Despite the fact that he was writing in the 1920s, Kenji's work has found increasing receptivity across the world in recent years and he has become one of the most prolifically illustrated literary figures in Japan, particularly in picture book form.