Scrapbook of a Future Nobleman

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

This year, our study abroad program only had 17 people. That’s a good size for a studio. Other years, though, they’ve had so many students that some need to stay in another temple nearby, Shunko-in, also in the Myoshinji complex. Although it wasn’t needed this year, we still went to visit and watercolor their gardens. The head monk at Shunko-in, Taka, gave us a brief introduction to za-zen meditation, too. We did learn one very important lesson about Japanese art while we were there, one that is actually kind of universal: the art is best viewed in the situation in which it was created. All of these temples have beautiful screen paintings in them, many with gold leaf overlay. But they are hundreds of years old, and in the original culture they would have only used candlelight indoors and sat on the floor. We took a moment to turn off all the lights in the hondo and sit on the tatami, and I can tell you it’s well worth your while to do this if you can the next time you see some screen paintings. It was exactly the sort of situation described in Junichiro Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows.” Who knew that book was so right?

As always, more pictures below the fold.

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

Shunko-in

A quick note: This is the end of the photos that I have prepared to post. Until I get my computer working again (Plan C recently failed), which means taking it into a repair place at this point, I won’t be able to sort, clean, or even really download the remainder of my photos. I hope to get this taken care of soon, so I can get back to posting. Thanks for being patient! Meanwhile, you can always look at the entire Japan set – including photos not included in these posts – on my Flickr page.