Thursday, May 30, 2019
Today was a day of temples and shrines, under the wonderful guidance of Fumie, one of our Japanese hosts - who after the Golden Temple, which was both extraordinary, and unmanageably full of school parties, took us to a range of much more out of the way temples. I (and my camera) feel saturated with its beauty, so here are just some representative images ... (also: it's nearly midnight ...).
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
That concrete block to the end of the temple? That's our hotel ... and our rooms look over the complex. I say "our" - Clare and Kitty turned up on the train from Tokyo (and before that, LHR); I came from Takamatsu, which involved a long ride over a terrific suspension bridge. Much of the day, otherwise, was spent catching up with practical stuff, and I managed to have an hour (whilst the others were sleeping) in the Hiagashi Hinkan-ji Temple - huge and magnificent, even if built (after its fourth fire) only in the late 1890s.
And then we were taken out (for this is, from this point out, something of a work trip) to dinner in the Gion quarter, and sat in a booth, and ate a good deal of fish and drank a good deal of sake.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Today contained many stunning works of art on Naoshima - and, alas, only that which was outside is photographable. Even walking up the hill in the drizzle to breakfast (in the basement of the Benesse Museum, and facing another wall of Sugimoto photos, with Warhol's flowers to my left) there were surprises, like this bowl.
And en route to the Chichu Museum - itself a stunning piece of art, or architecture - there's a Monet inspired garden. There are three huge Monet water lily paintings inside, but for me the star of the show was a huge Walter de Maria piece, "Time/Timeless/No Time." Twenty seven groups of three golden posts, with a giant shiny black ball in the middle of the floor - as awe-inspiring, in its way, as the Lightning Field. There was a good Turrell light room, too.
Then walking back down the hill, the Lee Ufan museum - both outside pieces, like this huge boulder, and paintings inside.
The Honmura area contains six official sites, mostly in restored traditional houses, although one is a Sugimoto re-made shrine - just downhill from the town's traditional shrine complex, though this Go'o shrine is indeed venerable. It's in two parts: one above, and one below ground - and the latter consists of a glass staircase descending into water in a dark cave: mystical; extraordinary.
But in lieu of being able to take photos of this, or another Turrell installation, or other pieces - here are some town views:
here's a fox, guarding a shrine.
Yayoi Kusama spots get everywhere.
The traditional walls, made black through charring cedar planks, are stunning.
And here's Yayoi's other pumpkin, by the ferry quay. But by this time it was pouring with rain - no heading out there, even for this small boy -
although he was super-excited to find that the ferry had spots on it!
Sailing, alas, away, one could see, once again, how much of Sugimoto's aesthetic comes from here. I'm sure I'll be back.
Monday, May 27, 2019
Yayoi Kusama's Yellow Pumpkin - indeed, her pumpkins in general - have perhaps become something of a cliché. Or so I thought - seeing this in situ, in Naoshima, with a misty evening over the Seto Inland Sea, it has a presence completely due to being here. And it's a pumpkin that I'm sure looks different, and photographs differently, with every shift of cloud and light. I'll be back down there in the morning - it'll be raining, I think, but that won't hurt my argument.
The day started in Kurashiki, and then a couple of trains to Takamatsu (it's a trip in which I've been very glad to be so confident in navigating trains, local buses, boats, from decades of experience in strange places) - and to Famous Garden # 2, the Ritsurin Garden. It was luminous even under grey skies: a garden designed to walk around in and be surprised by something round every corner.
(including this posing heron);
all that topiary means constant care;
and there's always something in season: late May, that proved to be water lilies
and irises - wonderful swathes of them.
And then by boat across the Inland Sea to Naoshima: mist-filled, it looked like every preconception of maritime Japan you might carry with you: Sugimoto with an island (and at dinner, I was facing a whole wall displaying Sugimoto's Time Exposed, which almost makes this qualify as a research trip ...).
And this is the view from my room ...
Oh, and - I was careful. Cherry-blossom dango make for a tasty lunch (rice dumplings grilled over charcoal, and smeared with adzuki bean paste).