The Bath, Five Hundred Arhats: Scrolls 9 and 10

At right, an acolyte beats drums to announce the hour of baths while, to the left, a group of rakan makes its way into the bathing pavilion, bundled toiletries in hand. Visible beyond reed curtains are two rakan already immersed in the hot water. Personal items such as robes, sticks, and prayer beads are left hanging on a rack. Outside, an attendant prepares a post-bath beverage.

With the codifying of daily rituals observed by monastic communities in China’s Song period, bathing and tea drinking became important subjects of medieval rakan painting. Kazunobu inserted an array of rakan engaged in basic acts of personal hygiene: shaving, clipping toenails, and plucking out facial hair, thus giving them great human appeal.

Kano Kazunobu (1816–63)
Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1854–63
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Collection, Zōjōji, Tokyo