zen garden + minimalist artwork

i’ve put down my roots in osaka for 3 years now, but i still don’t feel like i belong here. no matter where i had lived, or i might live in the future, my roots are always in kyoto. in fact, kyoto’s central area is closer than osaka’s from my town geographically. although i lived there for disappointingly a short period in my childhood, the terraced-house where i was born (technically speaking, i was born in a nearby maternity clinic) still stands on the corner of sanjo-dori and jingu-michi. it looks in bad shape as it’s been empty for decades, though. the whole housing premise belongs to my great-grand mother’s family who used to run a pottery business of awata-yaki, one of a great variety of kyo-yaki.
the house is just a stone’s throw from kyoto’s major attractions such as yasaka shrine, chion-in temple, the national art museum, heian jingu (shrine), higashiyama zoo and gion, the famous geisha district. kyoto is so ridiculously wonderful through four seasons; kyoto is very special. because, this ancient city proudly hangs onto our japanesque aesthetics, which i didn’t notice when i was living in kyoto as a child who never had interest in shrines and temples or i could never consider fun, nor was i a festival goer even when i was a child somehow, while kyoto holds many theatrical festivals especially in summer. for example, the extravagant gion matsturi (festival), in which a series of shinto rituals spans the entire month of july. yamahoko jungyo (floats parade), the peak of the festival, falls on a thursday, this year. i’ve never seen it, however, i’d rather avoid thousands of revellers filling gion than joining in. i am less keen on kyoto’s flamboyant side than its understated beauty.
if i visited kyoto this week i would escape from the crowd to my favourite zen temple complexes of daitokuji or tofukiji, instead. they offer anyone who loves tranquillity an urban retreat. daitokuji is the original place where the art of tea was formed and performed by sen no rikyu so that you can imagine how the secluded location and sacred environment were played as elements to its birth. i can tell that there are fewer people who fancy visiting either of them in summer, when kyoto becomes like a hot pan on a hob, than other seasons. usually, zen temple complex consists of several sub-temples that boast their respective 枯山水(karesansui): dry rock and stone gardens. and two of my favourite zen gardens were built by late mirei shigemori, the artist-turned-garden-architect, for daitokuji and tofukuji. the gardens, of which designs are pretty unsusual, were his abstract expression of modern art, as it were.
in the meantime, whenever i visit a white cube to view some contemporary artwork, i’d feel as if i view a zen garden. between 枯山水 and minimalist work, in a broad sense, such as richard sera’s, anish kapooa’s and rothko’s in particular, i’ve found something in common. the magical ingredients of esotericism in both cases are beauty, simplicity, frugality, austereness and meditativeness that inevitably involves spectator’s state of mind within existing space and time. and I've also found a good thing about aging. that is, i have grown up enough to appreciate its ‘less is more’ aesthetics. i am now happy to be old (well, to be honest with you, only half of me).


Anonymous said...


vosgesparis said...

what an interesting story, I enjoyed reading ;) thank you,.

Les Cotrions said...

Hi!I'm so happy to find a so far blog!It' so interesting reading about you! I've read you are passionate about Puccini.I'm Italian and I live in Lucca where Puccini was born and lived!I work in an art foundation but I like spending my spare time hunting through flea markets and creating for my home and web-site! I hope to hear from you!

NeedfulFriends&Koboldkinder said...

...your post is very interesting. the fotos of the zen garden are fantastic...looking at zen gardens bring so much peace...I love them.

I have some outdoor bonsai in my garden...and I enjoy them so much.

your blog is lovely...if you don´t mind I´ll copy your link into my favoured blog adresses...

luv anja