Zen Master Hakuin is called the restorer of Rinzai Zen sect in Japan. Hakuin was born in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture in 1685, during the mid-Edo period, he created numerous Zen paintings in order to Japaneseize the Zen that had existed since the Muromachi period and spread the teachings of Zen to as many people as possible. His Zen paintings are truly innovative, and some of them are full of comic-like humor.
Shogondo is the gallery that exhibits Zen artworks by Hakuin from the temple’s permanent collection.
Many Japanese think that the word ‘shogon’ means “to magnificently decorate a temple’s halls, such as the main hall, with statues and objects.” However, according to the one of the most authoritative dictionaries of the Japanese language, the correct definition is “to spiritually decorate the body of a person and the place he/she lives with the good and beautiful, such as wisdom and virtue.” Hakuin said, “There is no gorgeous building decorated with gold and silver in a Buddha’s pure land. The land is purified and becomes magnificent by bodhisattvas with aspirations for Buddhahood.” The Zen paintings and calligraphy by Hakuin exhibited in the Shogondo hall evoke aspirations for Buddhahood in viewers’ minds.