This portly toad, bursting beyond the confines of the scroll’s edges, belongs to a category of Japanese painting known as Zenga, or “Zen picture.” For Zen monks, painting provided a medium to express their own Zen experience and pleasure. The inscription is by Jiun, one of the foremost Buddhist clerics of the time. It can be translated as, “In heaven and among human beings, get back [to the original state],” a Zen admonition to adherents to free themselves from the distraction and ties of the mundane world and to live as purely and naturally as the toad does.
Thanks go to Mark R for passing on the link to this image. Turns out Jiun was quite the monk….