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Zigoku-zoshi
Might Show the Troubled World
Date:25, Feb, 2020
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
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Hello, I'm talking about Zigoku-zoshi today. What's Zigoku? It almost means Hell in Japanese language. And Ziguku-zoshi are the Hell pictures (with some letters) painted in the 12th century.



Zigoku-zoshi
Had by Tokyo National Museum
File: Jigoku-Zoushi.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Photoed on Sep. 24, 2007)

Who on earth illustrated those pictures? Nobody know. It is said Goshirakawa the Retired Emperor (1127 - 1192) told some to paint those, but we have no way to know who they were.

Why did Goshirakawa tell them to do it? In fact, he was very interested in art and culture. Probably, he preferred cultural things to politics although he was the most influential person. It is not unnatural to guess so. They say he was absorbed in Imayo-ka (popular songs in ancient Japan) and licensed quarters before he acceded to the throne. He was a culture snob and naturally, was well acquainted with Buddhism popular in the 12th century. In 1169 June, he retired into religion and became a monk-emperor.

Buddhism gives us a Zigoku idea. And it is not a mystery Goshirakawa told some nameless painters to illustrate the pictures.



Zigoku-zoshi
Had by Tokyo National Museum
File: Jigoku-Zoshi.jpg
from the Japanese Wikipedia
(Photoed on Sep. 24, 2008)

Sadly, he brought a true tragedy to the world. As told above, he preferred cultural things to politics although he was the most influential person at the time. Under the government of Goshirakawa, the world got many troubles. Many people had to be killed in wars. Japan's history tells us Heian (Peaceful) Period finished in 1192 when he died. So I believe it is not weird to think the Zigoku pictures might show the troubled world he brought.






 

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