Pictured here is 菊慈童, Kikujidō, "the Grace-Child of the Chrysanthemums," who obtained immortality by writing Buddhist scripture on flower petals and drinking the dew that trickled theredown. (The scripture itself was taught to him by King Mu of Zhou, and possibly written on a pillow.) He then achieved literary immortality by becoming a character in a Noh play, which was the smarter move, career-wise: an endorsement deal isn't just going to float down the chrysanthemum-fed stream out in the mountains, no matter how hard you shred on your flute.

And what were those two lines of scripture, you ask?

具一切功徳慈眼視衆生 福寿海無量是故応頂礼

Translation: "Endowed with all virtue, viewing living things through eyes of grace/ Fortune and longevity, a limitless ocean; therefore reply by giving thanks," I guess?

This is apparently a slightly modified extract from the Lotus Sutra, where the second verse starts 福海無量 ("Fortune gathers limitless as the ocean"?) instead. The 福寿海無量 version is also found in a separate, Kannon-related sutra, though, and is a common theme for calligraphy too.

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Lovely drawing and translation. Where and when is this from?

Myriam Belfer:

I love words & languages... and japanese drawings


For some reason this reminds me of the movie the Fountain.


I am particularly intrigued by the three legs underneath the flat landscape, it looks like a little table. I am sure this is symbolic of something, but what?


Three legs could symbolize something, but I like to imagine that Kikujidō was just sitting on a very large table.


You know I'm ashamed to admit that I completely forgot where I found this. But it was in a book about cooking, in PDF format (so quite possibly from Waseda's collection), so the table probably is fairly literal. IIRC there was one for each season.


This is perhaps a kind of trick art, in which Kikujidō is arranged on a <i>bontei</i> (盆庭). <i>Bontei</i> are miniature gardens made on tables or boxes, which were once popular in the Muromachi and Edo periods.

英語ではうまく説明できそうにないので、日本語で失礼します。この絵を見た時は、私も「何じゃこりゃ」と思いました。この絵に描かれているのは、台の上に作られた庭なので、盆庭のように見えます。でも、それは箱庭のようなものなので、とうてい人が乗れるようなサイズではないはずです。ここに描かれているのが何なのかよくわからなかったのですが、京都文化博物館で開催されている「いけばな 歴史を彩る日本の美」という展覧会を今日見に行って、『立花風俗色紙』というのを見て、疑問が氷解しました。『立花風俗色紙』というのは、江戸時代に描かれたもので、全部で8枚の色紙なのですが、それぞれに、盆庭や、花瓶に生けられた花が描かれており、盆庭や花瓶の上では、小人のような人々が、ちょうど花見をするような感じで、花や生け花を鑑賞している様子が描かれています。ガリバー旅行記の小人国の人々を描いたような絵です。たぶん、この菊慈童の絵も、『立花風俗色紙』と同じように、あり得ないサイズの盆石と人物を組み合わせて描いた、一種のトリックアートではないかと思われます。


Sorry for commenting to this old post. Finally I realized that my comment above was completely wrong.


Please see the last photograph in the above page. It seems that this kind of figure was used as decoration in the room in old Japan, and it is still used in some formal occasions.


Now that is conscientious. Thanks Aki!

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