Hidari Jingorō (左 甚五郎) was a possibly fictitious Japanese artist, sculptor and carpenter. Although various studies suggest he was active in the early Edo period (around 1596-1644), there are controversies about the historical existence of the person. Jingorō is believed to have created many famous deity sculptures located throughout Japan, and many legends have been told about him. His famous nemuri-neko ("sleeping cat") carving is located above the Kuguri-mon Gate amidst the sacred mountain shrines and temples of Nikkō, Japan. Amongst these shrines and temples is Nikkō Tōshō-gū, a shrine that honors the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Jingorō was a famous Edo period artist, designer, sculpturer, carpenter, and architect. He was an apprentice for the Chief Architect Hokyo Yoheiji Yusa of the Imperial Court in Kyoto where he studied how to build temples, shrines, and sculptures. After someone cut his right hand, he learnt to work with his left hand and became Hidari Jingorou (Hidari (左) means "left") (source: minna no nihongo shokyuu, lesson 37).
Stories about Jingorō are spread in wide regions in Japan. According to one, he once saw a woman of such exceptional beauty that he made a sculpture of her. Jingorō begins to drink in the company of the sculpture, and it begins to move, following Jingorō's lead. At first it had no emotion and could only imitate Jingorō's movements. However, when he places a mirror in front of the sculpture, the woman's spirit enters and it comes to life.
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- Zempei Matsumura, Nikkō Tōshō-gū Shrine and Hidari Jingorō, Nohi Publishing Company, Japan, 1975.
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