Hakuin (白隠慧鶴,1686–1769), creator of numerous Zen paintings, was a Zen monk regarded as the founder of the Rinzai sect in Japan. This study focuses on Hakuin’s belief in Akiha 秋葉,and discusses his paintings of the Akiha Gongen 秋葉権現.
Akiha belief refers to various beliefs centered on Enshu Akiha Mountain 遠州秋葉山,which is said to be beneficial for fire prevention. In addition to Enshu Akiha, there are several other places of worship connected to the Akiha belief, such as the Echigo-Jōanji Temple 越後常安寺,whence Akiha belief originated in the mid-18th century. Hakuin used both Enshu-Akiha and Echigo-Akiha as subjects for his Zen paintings. Interestingly, he preferred to distribute to the public pictures portraying Echigo Akiha, instead of the commonly known Enshu Akiha. In this study, I will analyze how Hakuin’s behavior led to an increase of interest in Akiha belief. Additionally, I clarify Hakuin’s ideas behind the two types of paintings of Akiha Gongen.