Japanese, 1913–1996




Sadao Watanabe was born in Tokyo. He was not raised as a Christian, but after his father died when he was ten years old, a neighborhood lady invited him to church. At first, Christianity did not appeal to him because of its foreignness, but with the encouragement of Japanese pastors, he read the Bible and converted at the age of seventeen. The fusion of traditional Japanese visual vocabulary with Christian stories in Watanabe’s prints found wide appeal with audiences after the war.

In Pentecost, four figures wearing kimono-like robes are shown at the moment of the Pentecost, an event described in the New Testament in which the Holy Spirit descends upon the twelve Apostles.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.                                                                                       Acts 2:1-4 

The imagery is fitting for Christian conversion in a land far from Jerusalem, where Japanese Christians would acknowledge that faith must cross the boundaries of language.



Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Transfer from The Pennsylvania State University Libraries Print Collection




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Stencil print; plate: 6-1/8 x 6-3/8 in (15.4 x 16 cm), sheet: 12-3/4 x 9 in. (32.3 x 33.8 cm)