Origins of the Yuzu Nenbutsu Sect

View right to left

Historical period(s)
Kamakura or period, 14th century
Ink, color, and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 29.2 x 1463.8 cm (11 1/2 x 576 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Buddhism, Japan, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), makimono
Provenance research underway.

This scroll depicts the life of the monk Ryonin (1072-1132), founder of the Yuzu Nembutsu sect of Japanese Buddhism. Ryonin taught that rebirth in the Western Paradise of the Buddha of Infinite Light, who is known in Japanese as Amida, could be attained by repeatedly the chanting of Amida's name. Followers of the Yuzu Nembutsu believed that the chanting of Amida's name by one individual could be efficacious for all sentient beings.

This section of the handscroll depicts the scene of Ryonin's death. As grieving followers mourn over Ryonin's folded robe, a retinue of heavenly beings descends to receive the master's soul and to transport it to the Western Paradise on a lotus blossom.

Published References
  • Zoku Nihon emakimono taisei. Tokyo. vol. 11: p. 106.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 2: pl. 86.
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol.2, pt. 1, pl. 61.
  • Nihon kaiga shi nenki shiryo shusei. Tokyo. pl. 290.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 14, vol. 2: p. 155.
  • Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics. vol. 2, Washington, London. p. 78, Rutherford J. Gittens, Hermann Kühn, and W.T. Chase.
  • Seiko Tokunaga, Society for the Comparative Studies in Japanese Culture. Journal of Comparative Studies in Japanese Culture vol. 15. vol. 15 Japan. p. 95.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 102.
  • Kazuhiko Komatsu. Unravelling the Mysteries of Hyakki Yako [Hyakki Yako no Nazo wo toku]. p. 187, fig. 56.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Related Objects