Publication Details

Kilpatrick, H, Buddhist visions of transculturalism: picturing Miyazawa Kenji's 'Yamanashi' (Wild Pear), International Research in Children's Literature, 2(2), 2009, p 259-277.


This paper analyses the interaction between the 1920s narrative of Yamanashi by Miyazawa Kenji and two sets of contemporary accompanying images. Both books challenge centrist ideologies and nationalist Nihonjinron theories of a homogeneous Japan that arose after WorldWar II. Kobayashi Toshiya’s (1985) more representational rendering of the story’s Buddhist significance of co-existence within nature provides the basis for comparison with the minimalist artwork of Kim Tschang Yeul (1984). While Kobayashi’s multiple viewing perspectives demonstrate how a non-Buddhist like fear of death can be transcended in an underwater microcosm, Kim’s non-replicatory rendering of the story extends this signification towards the transcendence of xenophobia. Comparison of the focalisation strategies of these two artists shows how, through a combination of references to culture and nature, a more transcultural focus is brought to the original Buddhist theme of interdependence. Whereas Kobayashi’s quiet monochromes demonstrate an integrated natural environment, Kim’s famous trompe-l’oeil water drops set against different cultural backgrounds show how this integration is extended to intercultural themes. Both books challenge dominant cultural epistemologies in Japan and elsewhere.



Link to publisher version (DOI)