Archive for July, 2009
In early summer, we spent two days with Yasuko’s family in Nagano visiting Zenkouji, a 1400 year-old Buddhist temple, and one of Japan’s biggest wooden structures. As legend has it, Zenkouji is home to the first ever Buddhist image to arrive in Japan, the Amida Golden Triad also known as the “Ikkou Sanzon Amida Nyorai” which features three standing Buddhas sharing one halo. The image came from Indis by way of Korea in the year 522 and has been kept secret from the public’s view ever since. Every seven years an exact copy of the Amida Golden Triad is revealed in a grand ceremony called Gokaicho, which was the purpose of our visit. During the ceremony, a giant totem like pole is put in the middle of temple grounds, attached by a long rope to the Buddha’s middle finger. By making a once in a life time pilgrimage, visitors can touch the pole and make a direct connection to the Buddha to ensure salvation.
It was a fantastic festival and the people of Nagano made all the stops to make it so. Here are a few images…
Historically open to women when other temples were not, now up to eight million visitors (more than half women) visit the temple annually.
This is my father-in-law geeking out with me…
And some little funny camerashop mascot…
“In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me…I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you…you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.”
Like a solar eclipse, a Halley’s Comet, or a blue moon, meeting a gentleman of this caliber occurs but once in lifetime, twice only if you are incredibly lucky. You’d be smart not to miss any such opportunity.
Met Daido Moriyama san at Place M again. It was at the opening of his show titled “Northern” and had been previously shown at Rat Hole a few months back. The reason he showed it again was because he just released a new book of the same name. This year is the 30th anniversary of his trip first photo adventure to Hokkaido. The images were stunning to say the least. The prints themselves were of top caliber as they always are.
I had a chance to have a nice discussion with him this time, asking him about a few of the images in particular. It was a real treat to hear a couple of stories behind the images. I also asked him what film and developer he uses; Kodak Tri-X in D76, and whether he still soups and prints his own stuff, to which he said “mochiron” (of course), with the exception of the very large stuff, which he sends to a printer.
All in all a very nice time. To somewhat of a surprise, Masato Seto, Moriyama’s ‘protoge’ and Place M’s owner asked me to please have a show there, which I would love to do, had I a sponsor to help with the costs. If you have any suggestions, don’t hesitate to offer them.