Miyazawa Kenji and His Illustrators: Images of Nature and Buddhism in Japanese Children's Literature
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In Miyazawa Kenji and His Illustrators, Helen Kilpatrick examines re-visionings of the literature of one of Japan’s most celebrated authors, Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933). The deeply Buddhist Kenji's imaginative dōwa (children’s tales) are among the most frequently illustrated in Japan today. Numerous internationally renowned artists such as Munakata Shikō, Kim Tschang-Yeul and Lee Ufan have represented his stories in an array of intriguing visual styles, reinvigorating them as picture books for modern audiences.
Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) is one of the most renowned figures in the field of modern Japanese literature. He was devout Buddhist whose work heavily reflects his non-humanist worldview. Together with his Buddhist beliefs, he was also a natural scientist, with many other research interests that influenced his thinking and writing, including chemistry, agriculture, geology, education, art, astronomy and other religions such as Christianity. In other words, Kenji was an inimitable modernist who combined an eclectic array of thought into his literary work. Predominantly, however, he showed a real concern with the interconnection between the human and natural world that, from an ecological perspective, now seems prescient. His unique blending of science, nature and metaphysics often results in an idiosyncratic 'otherworld' that was revolutionary in its day and still remains extraordinary. Many of his prose narratives, self-titled as children's tales (dōwa), bring this concern with blending the human and natural world to the fore. This cosmological world view can be seen particularly within the (post-) modern picture books that are finding broad currency today. These books form the focus of this present work